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A Few Famous History Majors

It’s that time again! I shall again pick a random liberal arts major, and then enumerate either the famous people in possession of such a degree, or the lucrative and unexpected things one might do with that major. So, let us see, let us see...ah, yes, the history major.

The history major is unique among the liberal arts majors, as for as outside perception goes, since, like the political science major, it’s not believed to be quite as “useless” as say, philosophy and theology. Moreover, since “history” is such a broad field, it can overlap with a number of other disciplines, such as economics, literature, art, philosophy, politics, and even business. A history major not only undertakes copious amount of research (with less room to “BS” something then, say, and English major might have), but receives exposure to a wide swathe of human achievement and experience. Some have focused more on the political aspect and entered public life, others saw more significance in the sociological sphere and became reformers and crusaders, while others, fascinated by the intricate stories and fascinating characters history provides, used it as inspiration for a career in the arts or entertainment. Among the liberal arts disciplines, history has proven time and time again to be one of the most versatile. So, without further ado, let us see what doors the study of history has opened for certain prominent figures:

Many political figures, such as…


  1. W.E.B. DuBois, a famous African-American civil rights activist, historian, author, studied first a Fisk university for a degree, then subsequently attending Harvard, earning a second bachelor’s degree in 1890. In 1895, he became on the first Americans, and the first black man, to earn a Ph.D. in history. Among his many, many later achievements was becoming a co-founder of the NAACP.

  2. Now, Winston Churchill doesn't quite count, since he never actually attended college, but I’m including him because he provides an excellent example of a man who was successful in public life without even receiving a university education, pulling himself up through self-education and elbow grease. Growing up, his academic record was generally poor. However, during his military service in India, he wrenched out his soldier and found himself with time on his hands and little to do during the long, hot afternoons in India. Taking his mother’s advice, he spent those dull and stifling afternoons reading books on philosophy, politics, and history, including Gibbons’ and Malcauly’s multi-volume histories and Plato’s Republic. Inspired by what he read and learned, once his tour of duty finished up, he decided to enter public life.

  3. Martha Stewart, that multimedia icon of home decoration and cookery, earned her degree in European and architectural history in 1962. Later on, after mastering Julia Child’s famous cookbook, she became known for her gourmet cooking skills, paving the way for current media empire.

  4. Sacha Baron Cohen is our last, and maybe oddest, representative. Best known for creating bizarre characters in inane comedies like Borat, he attended Christ’s College, Cambridge, receiving a degree in history in 1993, while performing in plays for the Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club.
Allison Dawson 12.31.2016 1 353
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  •  Laura Johnson: 
    Very interesting read, Allison! I didn't know Sacha Baron Cohen was a history major. I think studying history is great for any career in the arts because history, if nothing else, is rich with narratives that one could use for inspiration for his or her craft. Thanks for posting!
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