Founded in the early 1980s, the Center for Early Modern History began when faculty in the University of Minnesota Department of Natural History began organizing a series of workshops and conferences. From this initiative emerged the first center in the country to encompass a global and comparative approach to studying the early modern world. The intellectual energy of faculty and graduate students was further strengthened by the wide range of early modern resources available at the University of Minnesota.
The Center has particularly close ties with the University’s renowned James Ford Bell Library, one of the nation’s largest collections of rare books, maps, and manuscripts from the early modern period. The center also benefits from collaboration with many other affiliates, including institutions, centers, and departments both at the University and within the greater Twin Cities areas. The center also serves as a representative of the Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies Consortium.
Thanks to a generous endowment from the Union Pacific Corporation, the center began hosting activities on a more permanent basis. The Center for Early Modern History has hosted visiting scholars from dozens of academic institutions and has regularly held conferences on a variety of early modern topics. Selected papers from these conferences have been published by Cambridge University Press and are currently published as part of the Minnesota Studies in Early Modern History series. The center has also made funding available to graduate students in early modern history through a variety of short-term fellowships to help defray the costs of travel and duplication during archival research.
As the Center celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012, we embarked on a new campaign to strengthen our program’s interdisciplinary facets. While retaining its commitment to early modern history, the Center has placed new emphasis on being a central node for the study of the early modern from multiple perspectives. To this end, our current Advisory Board includes faculty from departments beyond history, and we are also administrative home to an interdisciplinary graduate minor in Early Modern studies, which is open to all graduate students at the University of Minnesota. Since 2014, the center has been a close affiliate to the Andrew R. Mellon-funded Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World.