It is nice to start the new academic year with an announcement that highlights the research efforts of an EIU History major. Last week the David Library of the American Revolution (“DLAR”) in Washington, PA, the pre-eminent academic research center on the American Revolution in the United States, announced that Michael Bradley was the second place winner of the DRLAR’s Omar Vázquez Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Research. The Vázquez Prize recognizes academic excellence and the use of primary sources in undergraduate research on an Early American topic. Michael’s honors thesis, “Incarcerated, Transported and Bound: Continued Resistance Among the Community of Transported Convicts from London to the Chesapeake, 1763-1775,” was completed under the supervision of Dr. Charles R. Foy. It connects criminal life and poverty in London, Britain’s criminal justice system, transatlantic migration of convicts and convicts’ lives in the Chesapeake, describes and analyzes how a community of convicts evolved and sustained itself across the Atlantic in face of a series of challenging and changing circumstances. In doing so, Michael has demonstrated the centrality of the experience being coercively transported to the development of community ties among London’s thieves and the Atlantic nature of that community. In recognition of the excellence of Michael’s scholarship DLAR will award Michael $250, have an abstract of his thesis read at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies seminar on September 11th and will catalogue Michael’s thesis in its world renowned collection. Kudos to Michael!
Eastern Illinois University History Department undergraduate and graduate of Charleston High School, John Bays, recently presented a poster at the Showcase EIU in March and then delivered a paper at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at Eastern Washington University near Spokane in April on an intriguing group of courtiers.
This week John will be graduating with Departmental Honors after successfully completing his thesis on the political and cultural roles of the royal mistresses and natural sons of King Charles II at the English late-17th century court. Along the way, John received an Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (URSCA) award from Eastern to research this subject, traveling with his thesis advisor, Dr. Newton Key, to both the Rare Book Room at the University of Illinois Library and especially the Newberry Library in Chicago to read rare material from the 17th century as well as genealogical information on the bastards and their mothers. Rather than being ignored, the illegitimate sons were used by the king as part of the magnificence of his court, receiving honors and positions. Younger sons proved remarkably adept at surviving at court past the Revolution after their father’s death, and even into the Hanoverian era.
John began his interest in things historical in courses taught by Matt Schubert at Charleston High School. He was quite interested in the Tudor Court, but moved studying to late-17th century Stuart Court when Dr. Key suggested this subject. It takes a while to decipher the meaning of status and ceremony at courts, but John enjoyed going through “the process of becoming a real historian.” He especially liked the chance to present the material at the Honors Showcase and then at NCUR. NCUR found him in a session with gender and literary studies, where fielding “lots of questions” was “a really good experience.” Writing the thesis, John added, is a good “springboard to graduate school,” and he enters the M.A. program in History at Eastern in the Fall.
From the desk of history major Gabriela Miranda:
Before I become a History major at Eastern Illinois University, I thought studying History meant memorizing dates and learning about specific events or persons; I quickly learned that is not the case!
I have learned that studying history is about being an investigator and doing research, where thinking critically is essential, along with asking questions about new or well-known topics. Research is a collaboration process between a student and a professor. This collaboration begins early, as the first step is choosing a topic to research with the guidance of the professor. Research or the gathering of evidence commonly referred to as, primary sources (like documents, books, paintings, etc. from the time period being studied) and secondary sources (like scholarly journals, articles, books, etc. written to further explain/ provide reputable opinions about the primary source, or to present legitimate arguments about the primary source) is an exciting part of beginning a new project. Research requires time, patience, passion, hard work, effort, effective planning, and determination. Research also requires flexibility, because sometimes interests change or develop, sometimes evidence is hard to find, meaning it takes a while to find a credible and reliable source. Sometimes that credible evidence is impossible to find and that’s okay, it doesn’t mean failure, it just means that a different question needs to be asked or there needs to be a new approach to the question in order to get the right evidence. In the worst-case scenario, it means finding a new topic. This why research requires effective planning because it can be easy to feel lost or overwhelmed, but there are people who are more than happy to help the research process along, like professors and librarians.
I recently experienced the frustrating situation of not being able to find a primary source quickly, and I knew that it existed because the primary source was cited in a secondary source. I was looking for the July 2, 1887 issue of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. I had spent about a month and half actively looking for this document, I used the scholarly reference database offered by the Mary J. Booth Library on EIU’s campus to hopefully find the source I was looking for. I am the type of person who likes to try my hardest before asking for help, so when finally decided to ask for the help of the wonderful librarians I knew I had done all I could to find this document, after all I had “googled”, searched on Bing, and other search engines and databases. It is important to know using different keywords to track a document down can change the results that appear on a page, and the librarians at EIU are amazing at helping with this but still I was coming up with nothing!
Finally on Tuesday, March 10, 2015, I was ready to give up; I had already started to think of new topics and finding potential sources to present to my professor, Dr. Lynne Curry, for my research project. That afternoon, however, I asked myself where is the one the place that houses every journal, every article, every book that has ever been published? The Library of Congress of course! I was so dumbfounded. How could I forget about the Library of Congress; I felt so silly! I quickly logged onto the Library of Congress’s website and searched for the issue only to discover that once again I couldn’t find it, but there was hope because on website there is a tab that says “Chat With A Librarian.” I thought, “no way it could be this is easy,” and clicked the tab. As it turns out, the librarian is only available from Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time and it was past 2 p.m. Central Time. So despite the fact that missed the chat time with the librarian on Tuesday, there was hope for Wednesday!
On Wednesday, March 11, 2015, I logged on to http://www.loc.gov at 1 p.m. and started a live chat conversation with a librarian named Roslyn, who in less than 15 minutes found the journal article and sent it to me via email! It was seriously the most exciting thing to happen to me all week, like I wanted to throw a parade to let everyone know that I found my primary source! I know that my happiness seems a bit strange, but it came from my sense of accomplishment! I spent so much time looking for it and put in a lot of effort and determination to finding it and I did, with the help of a wonderful librarian, of course! Now that I found my source, I get to move on the next step of my research project, which is reading and analyzing the document!
On Wednesday, November 12 students in Professor Brian Mann’s The British Empire and the Islamic World class began a historical reenactment of the transfer of power in India by convening a historically based conference between the British and various political leaders in British India. The role-play simulation begins in India in June 1945 at the British summer capital of Simla and continues through to the actual transfer of power in August 1947. With some modifications, the game is based on Barnard College’s Defining a Nation: India on the Eve of Independence, 1945, one of the historical simulations offered through Barnard’s Reacting to the Past (RTTP) series.
Each student in the class is portraying a prominent figure in the story of India’s independence from British rule, and, like their real-life historical counterparts, each student has his or her own objectives to fulfill. By the end of the conference, the students must decide what India will become post-British rule. Will they agree to partition India into two states, as did their historical counterparts? Will they decide on partitioning India into three or more states? Or will the students (while staying true to their roles) be able to depart from history and find a way to keep India whole and united?
During the first few sessions of the simulation, students will address the British Governor-General and their fellow conference attendees, seeking to persuade their countrymen and the British to sign off on their vision of a future India. Following these introductory speeches the Governor-General will issue an initial proposal for the transfer of power. Over the ensuing weeks, the delegates will debate and vote upon various issues:
Will India be partitioned, and if so, how? Will the post-British government(s) be centralized or decentralized? Will there be guaranteed representation and/or separate electorates for minorities, or will there be majority rule? What will the military situation be like? Will there be a national language or languages? Will the government(s) be secular or religious? Will the economy (or economies) be modern and industrial or premodern and traditional?
Unfortunately for the students, just like in real life, speeches and civil debate may not solve the many disputes that will arise. Each delegate at the conference possesses an extreme special ability which they can invoke during the conference. Depending on the situation, a delegate may invoke this power solely as a coercive threat or may actually use it. For example, the adherents of Mohandas Gandhi might inspire him to go on a hunger strike (and even die) for a specific cause, while the Muslim League could call on India’s Muslims to engage in a “Day of Rage” that could lead to communal violence from which India may never recover.
By utilizing what they have learned throughout the semester, and by employing the analytical, written, rhetorical, and oral communication skills they have honed as history majors, the students will spend the next few weeks attempting to persuade the British to leave India on their terms.
We are all excited to see how our conference will play out: Can the students stay true to their historical characters and avoid partition (and the hundreds of thousands of deaths that resulted from it)? Or is (was) partition and widespread communal violence inevitable? Stay tuned…
The students and their roles (in order of opening remarks at the conference) are:
- Alex Gillespie as the Governor-General of India
- Jessica Schluter as Tara Singh, leader of the Sikhs
- Ben Jordan as Osman Ali Khan, the Nizam of Hyderabad
- Caleb Gurujal as the leader of the Hindu Mahasaba
- Jake Meyerhoff as an adherent of Gandhi and his views on non-violence
- Courtney Sage as an adherent of Gandhi and his views on traditional India
- Taylor Yangas as Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, leader of the Untouchables
- Stephen Szigethy as the leader of the Communist Party of India
- Isaac Mier as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, President of the All-India Muslim League
- Adam Mohebbi as Sayyid Maududi, Islamist leader of the All-India Muslim League
- Mike Ludwinski as Maulana Azad, President of the Indian National Congress
- Emily McInerney as the Brahman leader of the Indian National Congress
- Logan Braddock as Jawaharlal Nehru, leader of the Indian National Congress
- with Prof. Brian Mann as Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee
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.
Dr. Bailey K. Young has partnered with the Catholic University in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, since 1998, offering a one-month immersion experience in historical archaeology — The Walhain-Saint-Paul Project Study Abroad.
The 2014 dig runs from June 28 through July 25 and includes two students from EIU (Nathanial Rees, History, and Bradley Ogilvie, Computer Science) and ten students from nine other universities (alphabetically: Colby College (Maine), Fordham University (NYC), Ohio Wesleyan University, Portland State University; two from the University of Chicago, University of Delaware; University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; University of York, England; Wittenberg University.
The EIU students received some financial assistance to participate this year, thanks to a Presidential Research & Creative Activity Fund grant awarded to co-investigators, Bailey K. Young, director of the Walhain project, and Debra A. Reid, to launch a three-year project focused on the rural and agricultural history of the site.
Reid is also working with Historical Administration student Amanda Hursch to partially fulfill her internship requirement while developing a comprehensive feasibility study for the site’s interpretation and fine-tuning two grant applications).
History graduate program alumns Annie Tock and her husband, Adam Morrisette joined the dig to work on digital humanities components to further the dream of site interpretation. Three more weeks remain, and the future seems bright for finding new features and increasing the data about this important medieval site.
You can follow the progress of the dig at The Walhain Saint-Paul Project’s facebook site.
Each year the Living History Program, sponsored by EIU’s Women’s Studies Program, recruits students to portray women in history at local elementary schools during Women’s History and Awareness Month in March. On February 26, four EIU students partook in The Living History Premier Presentation, an event open to the public, at the Charleston Carnegie Public Library. For more information about the Living History program, please visit the Women’s Studies Program’s website. You also can read about this year’s Living History Premier Presentation over at the the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier, and find more information about this year’s Women’s History and Awareness Month at the Women’s Studies’ WHAM page.
We are proud to announce that Jessica Nunez, a major in History with Social Science Teacher Certification, has won the prestigious Livingston C. Lord Scholarship. This is the ninth year in a row that a history major has won the award. The Lord Scholarship is the only award for which recipients are honored annually during the spring commencement ceremony and is considered the University’s most prestigious award for academic excellence. Please join us in congratulating Jessica on her remarkable achievement!
The History Department at Eastern Illinois University invites all interested students to their first History Careers Day to be held on 22 February 2013 from 10—3 in Room 4440 of Booth Library. Each session will begin with a fast round of brief presentations (5-6 minutes each) and then open it up to questions about innovations in history research, opportunities for grants, awards, and future study, etc. The morning sessions feature current graduate and undergraduate students and a few of the department faculty. The afternoon sessions are devoted to reports from the front from alumni employed in a variety of fields. (Organizers; Sace Elder, Newton Key, Brian Mann, Nora Small )
Register today! (All sessions and the lunch are free; but space/food is limited. So click here to register now – it takes seconds.)
- 10:00-10:50 Student session
- Emily Scarbrough, “Suffrage and Antisuffrage in Illinois”
- Clare Smith, “Stuart Images of Henry VIII”
- Pat Vonesh, “Transcultural Identities Among Blacks and Whites in Britain, 1950-1980”
- Philip Mohr, “Housing E.I.U.’s G.I.s and Married Students”
- 11:00-11:50: Faculty session (Professors of History at EIU)
- Newton Key, “News Networks in the 17th and 21st Centuries”
- Brian Mann, “Researching Modern Iranian History”
- Ed Wehrle, “The View from Camp David”
- Anita Shelton, “Translating History”
- 12:00-12:50: Lunch (provided)
- Study Abroad
- 1:00-1:50 and 2:00-2:50: Alumni session (2x)
- Ryan Blankenship, Managing Director, Mathematics and Statistics, McGraw-Hill Higher Education
- Marc Anderson, Product Manager, Congressional and Historical Collections, ProQuest
- Amanda Bryden, State Sites Collection Manager, Indiana State Museum and State Historic Sites, New Harmony State Historic Site
- Bobbi Kingery, Career Counselor, College of Arts & Humanities
- Amanda Standerfer, Adult Division Head Librarian, Decatur Public Library
- 3:00 Career Day Ends. Note: all participants are invited the keynote talk by Dr. Christopher Olsen, 7 pm in Doudna Lecture Hall.
Eastern Illinois History undergraduate Clare Smith’s abstract on “Seventeenth-Century Perceptions of the Henrician Reformation in Popular Culture,” was approved for presentation at the 27th National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) 2013 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The presenters were chosen from more than 3,500 submissions. Clare received an an undergraduate research grant from Eastern and is writing a department Honors thesis on the subject advised by Dr. Newton Key.