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History & Anthropology

Jimmy Rick ’15

A combined major drew him to Butler.

History and Anthropology
Jimmy Rick

Jimmy Rick made the most of his time at Butler. In 3½ years, the history and anthropology major from Dayton, Ohio:

  • Studied abroad in Vietnam, where he did a field research project interviewing people about reverence of their ancestors.
  • Interned with the Indiana Historical Society and in the Butler library with historian Sally Childs-Helton.
  • Worked with a historian researching slaves brought from Virginia to southern Indiana.
  • Helped with a public television documentary on Indiana’s bicentennial.

“It’s a special relationship between historical materials—the things that are left behind—and the people who left them behind and the historians of today,” he said. “I was glad to be part of that.”

Rick grew up with an interest in big questions: How do we make human life work? How do disparate individuals come together and make institutions, make nations, make history happen? He said he chose Butler because, as an aspiring anthropologist or historian, he wanted to go somewhere where his professors would be accessible, his classes would be reasonable size, and he would be taught by professors, not teaching assistants. He also liked that history and anthropology were together in one department.

Sophomore year, he took a history class with Professor Vivian Deno that enabled him to go to New Harmony, Indiana, the site of two early American utopian communities. He visited an archive and worked directly with historical documents of the communities. That trip pushed him in the direction of historical research—and to pursue his internships.

Before graduating in December, Rick applied to several doctoral programs in history. He wants to teach eventually, but he’s keeping his options open. Library sciences or archival history also remain potential career paths.

“The knowledge I have now will help me pursue what I want to do in the future,” Rick said, “whether that’s applying to programs to pursue a career in academics or to work outside that in libraries and archival history. There are multiple ways I could go, and my Butler education has helped me find ways to do that.”

Hear Jimmy's Story in His Own Words

Butler Never Settle: James Rick