Undergraduate historical research at Eastern is supported in a host of ways, including Study Abroad Grants, a plethora of writing awards, and Undergraduate Research and Creative, Scholarship, and Creative Activities Grants (“URSCA”). An example of such research is John Bays who recently used an URSCA grant to travel to Chicago with Dr. Key to conduct research for his Honors Thesis “State Centralization & the 17th Century Court: the Role of Royal Bastards in France & England.” (Yes, even bastards can be subjects of academic scholarship).
A key component supporting undergraduate research has been EIU’s membership in the Newberry Library’s Renaissance Center Consortium. A benefit of this membership is travel grants for EIU students to support research at the Newberry Library. In past years such grants have supported research on Honors Theses concerning Illinois during the American Revolution as well as several research trips by students in Dr. Foy’s Golden Age of Piracy course. On November 7th Dr. Foy and nine students from his piracy course – Laura Adrian, Will Beltran, Clyde Bradford, Michael Glowacki, Alex Hopkins, Bethany Haywood, Lauren Knipp, Emily McInery, and Kathleen Rebbe – woke up before the roosters to catch the 5:27 am City of New Orleans train to the Windy City. A quick cab ride to the library and after an orientation by Will Hansen, the library’s Curator of Americana, the students eagerly dived into reading 17th and 18th century books and manuscripts regarding pirates in the western Atlantic.
Among the students’ finds were Spanish maps showing fortifications used to repel pirates and British naval forces.
After dinner at Eataly in downtown Chicago the group walked over to Union Station for the trip home. Unfortunately, Amtrak did not cooperate as the train returning left three hours (!!!) late, causing the group not to arrive at Mattoon until 3:30 AM. Despite bleary eyes, all had a productive and fun time.