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 California State University, Fullerton


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Address: Department of History, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92834. Office: H-815F, (657) 278-3474, E-mail

Department of History

In Memoriam: Gordon M. Bakken
A “Celebration of Life Memorial Service” for Professor Bakken will be held on Saturday, January 24,2015, 1 p.m., in the Mackey Auditorium of the CSUF’s Ruby Gerontology Center.

Noted historian Gordon M. Bakken, who could always be seen with an easy smile and wearing a distinctive cowboy hat while striding across campus, died Friday, December 5, 2014, of cancer. He was 71 years old. The cowboy hat was only one of several that the professor emeritus of history wore during more than 40 years on campus. A prolific author, researcher and commentator on constitutional law and western history, Bakken joined the campus in 1969 and never stopped teaching, advising or mentoring. In the 1970s, he served not only as director of faculty affairs and records, but also as a member of the then-University Planning and Administrative councils, as well as liaison with the Office of General Council and Office of Faculty and Staff Affairs at the CSU. Off campus, he was an inaugural advisory board member on the Committee on History of Law in California, a standing committee of the State Bar of California; elected vice president of the California Supreme Court Historical Society and president of Phi Alpha Theta, the International History Honorary Society; appointed member of the Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Court Records; and served on the editorial advisory board of the California Historical Society - just to name a few. During his career, he authored or edited 24 books, including "The Development of Law in Frontier California: Civil Law and Society, 1850-1890," "Women Who Kill Men: California Courts, Gender and the Press" and “Invitation to an Execution,” as well as hundreds of articles in such publications as the American Journal of Legal History, Southern California Historical Quarterly, Rocky Mountain Social Science Journal and the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly. For his contributions to history over the decades, Bakken was awarded the Western History Association's 2009 Award of Merit and honorary life membership. The University honored him by conferring emeritus status in recognition of his 43 years of service in 2013. In November, the Coalition for Western Women's History bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award o Bakken in honor of his support of the field of Western women's history. Besides his other hats, Bakken added that of donor, supporting a wide range of university scholarships and programs, ranging from the Center for Oral and Public History and the History Alumni Association to Titan Athletics. Bakken earned his bachelor's degree in English, master's and doctorates in history and law at the University of Wisconsin. He is survived by his wife, Brenda Gail Farrington; his daughter, Angela Bakken Henderson; son, Jeffrey Elwood and his wife, Karma Kiang; and three grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:

•    Gordon Bakken Book Fund benefiting student scholarship, attention: Alina Mircea-Trotz, director of development, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Room H-211 (checks made payable to CSFPF) or

•    Phi Alpha Theta Gordon Morris Bakken Memorial Scholarship benefiting for student research, attention: Jochen Burgtorf, Cal State Fullerton's History Department (checks payable to Phi Alpha Theta and indicate Bakken scholarship).
Both can be mailed to Cal State Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton 92834.

A “Celebration of Life Memorial Service” for Professor Bakken will be held on Saturday, January 24,2015, 1 p.m., in the Mackey Auditorium of the CSUF’s Ruby Gerontology Center.


Welcome to CSUF's Department of History. With several hundred undergraduate History majors, about 200 Master's students, 24 full-time faculty, 30 lecturers, 4 office-staff members, and a wide range of course offerings covering all periods of History, most regions of the globe, and many different topics and approaches, this is a vibrant and diverse academic community, and an exciting place to work and study.

CSUF offers the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History, the Minor in History, and the Master of Arts (M.A.) in History. Our department provides academic advisement for these courses of study, as well as the Credential Program (also known as the "Historic Social Science Subject Matter Preparation Program." Our undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to participate in our Internship Program, become involved in our Center for Oral and Public History, apply for membership in our award-winning chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, and submit their research papers for publication in our nationally acclaimed student journal, The Welebaethan.

Training as a historian hones a number of highly valued, transferable skills. Historians turn a challenge into a research question, devise a research plan, conduct systematic research, organize and analyze their findings, and are prepared to present and discuss their results in a logical and appealing manner. Historians pay close attention to issues of difference, context, and process. And, since everything and everybody has a history, historians are naturally inclined toward interdisciplinary work.

One can find trained historians in a wide range of jobs: as teachers and professors on all levels of instruction; as archivists, librarians, information scientists, and museum curators; as writers, journalists, and publishers; as associates and executives in businesses that require exceptional research, writing, and people skills; as administrators in many different fields; as legal professionals, law enforcement officers, and government officials; as charity and volunteer organizers; and as politicians and international diplomats.

Thank you very much for your interest in CSUF’s Department of History. We hope you will enjoy browsing through our webpages, and we look forward to hearing from you.

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News & Headlines 

  • Phi Alpha Theta News: The Theta-Pi Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta at CSU Fullerton has won the nationwide Best Chapter Award (Nels A. Cleven Award) for 2014 in Division VI, the division of the largest universities in the competition. Kudos to Ms. Nicole Arnold, the immediate past president of the chapter.

  • New Publication: Professor Maged Mikhail's new book, From Byzantine to Islamic Egypt, was published in September 2014.

  • New Department Chair: Professor Nancy Fitch is the new department chair as of August 18, 2014.

  • Phi Alpha Theta News: Professor Jochen Burgtorf was elected and installed as national vice president of the society on Jan. 4, 2014.