Nyhus Travel Grant Recipients
Nyhus Large Grant Awards, 2014-2015
My summer research initially focused on the role of black nurses during the American Civil War. This demographic is an under-researched group that had fascinating potential for an honors thesis. With the generous help of a Large Nyhus Grant, I travelled to the archives in Washington, D.C., and started looking for anything and everything I could find about black women who had served in the medical field during that war. At the historical societies of Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia, and in the National Archives and Library of Congress, I found many fascinating accounts, letters, and other primary sources that referenced black women in hospitals and in the field. Much to my chagrin, I found little that could be pulled together into a cohesive honors project.
However, I did find Charlotte Forten’s Civil War journals, which are held at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University. In this decaying journal (and the carefully typescript pages that accompanied it, the work of another, extremely patient, historian), written by a woman who had lived and worked in the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina during the war, I found references to individuals whom I had come across in other readings. Susie King Taylor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Dr. Seth Rogers… All of these names were floating around in Forten’s diary. When I went and examined the diaries of Taylor and Higginson, I found that they, too, were replete with a few select names. What became clear to me the more I read was that Laura Towne, Dr. Esther Hawkes, Dr. Rogers, Colonel C.T. Trowbridge, Higginson, Taylor, and Forten were all writing to and about one another. Despite their differences in race (Forten and Taylor were black, the rest of the individuals were white) and gender, these individuals formed a clear network in the Sea Islands during the Civil War. I then knew that I had the beginnings of an honors project before me: I would examine, re-examine, tease out, challenge, and interrogate this network, in an attempt to determine how it was constructed. What assumptions were these individuals operating under? How did their respective classes, races, and genders influence their interactions with one another?
Although many of the sources that I am now working with have been published and can be found through CBBcat, the Nyhus Grant that was awarded to me by the History Department was essential to getting my honors project started. Without it, I would not have been able to travel around DC or go to the Historical Society in Richmond. I would not have been able to gather a wealth of (disparate) primary sources concerning black women and their diverse roles during the Civil War. In many ways, the Nyhus Grant helped me determine which projects I did not want to do! Yet even as I was sifting through sources that will probably not end up in my final paper, I was piecing together evidence and making connections between people. The Nyhus Grant gave me an extraordinary opportunity to do unique primary source research in some of the most amazing archives this country has to offer. I am grateful for the chance to get my hands dirty and really experience historical research at its core.
Nyhus Large Grant Awards, 2013-2014
Jennifer McMorrow, 2014
Since I began my research last summer, the focus of my project has shifted based on the availability of primary sources. Originally, I had intended to examine the role of religion versus the role of secularism under President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s regime in Egypt. In gathering primary sources this summer and in the ensuing months, this issue was present in much of the source work, but it ended up making more sense to shift to a broader focus on Nasserism itself, and the ideological components of Egyptian politics during his presidency. Public memory of Nasser centers on his role as an Arab nationalist, but in practice his ideological leanings often became muddled between Arab nationalism, anti-imperialism, and his own autocratic tendencies, which led to his creation of a cult of personality. Through the Bowdoin library, last semester I was able to collect a wide array of Nasser’s public rhetoric in the form of speeches and press interviews. These sources were useful in demonstrating the image Nasser strove to project of his ideology, as these public pronouncements allowed him to espouse his loftiest and purest ideals without facing certain difficult political realities that might sway them. With the Nyhus Grant, I had the opportunity to travel to the British National Archives in London where I uncovered a very different angle on Nasser’s regime. At the archives, I examined correspondence of British diplomats throughout the Middle East with the Foreign Office in London that disclosed details of their dealings with the Egyptian government. These sources, though biased in a different way toward British interests, nonetheless provided a more realistic picture of how Nasserist ideology operated beyond the rhetoric on a day-to-day basis, and how political reality affected Nasser’s ideals. The use of these archival materials has enriched my project immensely.
Georgia Whitaker '14
I used my Nyhus grant to travel to Santiago, Chile for two weeks in January 2014, where I conducted archival research and oral histories for my History honors project. My project focuses on civilian-military relations in Chile and Argentina, transnational migrations, and the regional roots of Operation Condor—a cross-border, intelligence-sharing operation designed by six South American military dictatorships to track, monitor, and annihilate leftist subversives in the mid-to-late 1970s. Although scholars have researched the final stages of Condor’s institutionalization and the United States’ orchestration of Southern Cone collaboration, my aim is to refocus Condor studies on regional politics in order to understand how the transnational Left community, the international student movement, and the politics and practices of exile all precipitated an unprecedented level of cooperation between the Chilean and Argentine governments. The archives of the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (the Museum of Memory and Human Rights), where I worked in Santiago, were crucial in helping me research this gap in the existing scholarship. The documents that I worked with—Argentine Embassy immigration records, Argentine secret police surveillance documents, exile testimonies, old Chilean and Argentine newspaper articles, and Chilean government publications—provided me with crucial primary sources and gave me a transnational perspective on the period that I could not have ascertained from just North American records. In Santiago, I also interviewed a Chilean author and professor who was exiled in Argentina for his involvement with the student movement; this conversation helped put a face to this period and gave me a better understanding for the day-to-day characteristics of life in exile.
Hillary Miller '14
In January 1959 two major events changed the course of history. In France, the Fifth Republic rose from the ashes of a downtrodden government to establish a more modernized and driven France under the leadership of iconic leaders such as Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou. Across the Atlantic, the dictatorial regime of Fulgencio Batista was officially overthrown by Fidel Castro’s July 26 Movement, and marked the beginning of one of the most controversial governments of our time. The relationship between France and Cuba has been fairly neglected by scholars. My honors project hopes to contribute to the understanding of this subject by analyzing the relationship between Castro’s Cuba, the government of the Fifth Republic, and a group of New Left French intellectuals from 1960 until the early 1970s. My analyses will be divided into three parts that each focus on a series of events that altered the relationship between France and Cuba; the Algerian War of Independence, The Bay of Pigs/Cuban Missile Crises, and the Student Revolts of 1968/the Padilla Affair of 1971. Through this chronological analysis I hope to trace the ups and downs of the complex dynamic between these two countries during the height of the Cold War.
As a recipient of a Large Nyhus Grant I was able to travel to Paris, France over winter break to do archival research for my honors project. During my two weeks in Paris I was able to visit four major archives; Les Archives Diplomatiques à La Courneuve, Les Archives Diplomatiques à Nantes, Les Archives Nationales à Pierrefitte, and Les Archives de la Bibliothèque Nationale de France. The Grant covered my lodging and research (inscription fees) costs and also facilitated a day trip to Nantes to go to their Diplomatic Archives. The purpose of my archival research was to find primary documents concerning intergovernmental relations between Castro’s government and the Fifth Republic and to find newspaper articles reflecting French public opinion on the Bay of Pigs/Cuban Missile Crises, documents which were very difficult to come by in the United States.
Though I ran into many obstacles, I ultimately found material that will fill the gaps in my scholarship and allow me to provide a more comprehensive history of Franco-Cuban relations from 1960-1973. In terms of documents concerning intergovernmental relations, the bulk of documentation consists of economic treaties and correspondence between the Paris and Havana embassies. Among these documents are interesting letters that reveal France’s motives for engaging in trade with Cuba. In terms of newspaper articles showing public opinion, I found a plethora of articles from four different French newspapers (Le Figaro, France-Soir, L’Humanité, et Le Monde Diplomatique), which paint an interesting picture of French reactions to the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crises. These articles will allow me to discern how events in Cuba affected the French people and if/how public opinion influenced the political decisions of the French government.
John Mensik '14
My honors project examined the relationship between the Cuban government, the Chilean government, and the Chilean guerrillas Leftist Revolutionary Movement (MIR) during the presidency of Salvador Allende in Chile from 1970-73. Allende became the first freely elected socialist leader in Latin America and his presidency consisted of attempts to bring sweeping socialist reforms to Chile while trying to maintain political decorum with the Chilean right and left, as well as building an alliance with Castro’s Cuba. He was unsuccessful, however, and dissatisfied those on both the right and left. This led to the infamous coup of September 11, 1973 in which President Allende commit suicide and replaced by a military dictatorship.
For my research I travelled to Santiago, Chile. There, I examined documents in the Historical Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, National Library, and the National Archive. In the Ministry of Foreign Relations I examined embassy records from both the Chilean Embassy in Havana and the Cuban Embassy in Santiago. In the National Library I examined newspapers from the time. The National Archives contained the papers of Orlando Letelier, the Chilean Ambassador to the United States under Allende who was murdered by secret agents working for the dictatorship in Washington, DC. The Ministry of Foreign Relations archive was less helpful, as relations between Cuba and Chile during this time were conducted primarily through intelligence officers as opposed to diplomats. However, the National Archive and Letelier papers yielded helpful newspaper articles and other primary sources.
Wilson Dippo '12
Under Professor Strother Roberts, he completed an advanced independent study that examined Montana’s American Indian Tribes. Specifically he looked at the first fifty years of reservation life for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai on the Flathead Reservation in Northern Montana. Wilson’s project traced the ways in which American Indians exerted their agency despite national policy that effectively stripped them of their autonomy. Wilson examined hunting, general allotment, and bison ranching on the Flathead Reservation. Unexpectedly the bison from the reservation became the nucleus for the herds today in Yellowstone National Park as well as both the Canadian and United States National Bison Herds. The Mansfield Library houses primary documents including correspondence, newspapers, photographs, and government records that cannot be found anywhere else. Of these materials, the records relating to the death of deputy State Game Warden Charles Peyton in 1908 were exceptionally interesting. Peyton confronted a Pend d’Oreille Indian hunting party in at least two different occasions, and in a firefight, the details of which are murky at best, Peyton and three Pend d’Oreille Indians died. While the national press at the time generally reported that Peyton had acted in self-defense, records of the investigation suggest that the reverse may have been the case.
Sean McElroy '12
Thanks to a Nyhus Travel Grant from Bowdoin’s History Department, I was able to travel over the past winter break to conduct research at the Orwell Archives, located in University College, London. The Orwell Archives are an extraordinarily rich source of not only Orwell’s own manuscripts, letters, and possessions, but perhaps the foremost collection in the world of published and unpublished material relating to appropriations of Orwell after his death in 1950 in the old University Hospital, a hospital which stood only a few hundred meters from the archive.
In my work at the Archive, I was given access to an extraordinary wealth of primary materials that has greatly enhanced my project. I was able to access and read many of Orwell’s letters, as well as the correspondence of his second (and final) wife, Sonia Brownell, which highlighted how the Orwell estate attempted to control Orwell’s work. I was also able to access many original and unpublished adaptations of Orwell’s work, which enabled me to understand how various individuals and groups appropriated and manipulated Orwell’s ideas, along with a wealth of other invaluable primary materials.
My project discusses the history of Orwell’s appropriation, focusing on elements and agents that attempted to claim and shape the Orwell image during the Cold War. More specifically, my project presents a history of how various ‘conservative’ elements and individuals transformed the Orwell image into a mechanism to gain popular support, whether for the Cold War prerogatives of the 1950s, or to provide an intellectual ‘forefather’ to the emerging neoconservative movement of the 1980s. This project has been greatly enriched thanks to my research at the Archive, which was fully enabled by this grant.
Fatoumatta Kunjo '10 completed a senior thesis under the direction of Professor David Gordon on the role of griots, artisans who relate and perform—both orally and musically—the history of their culture in Senegal and the Gambia in West Africa. Her project, entitled “Casamance Histories: Lalo Kebba Drammeh’s Performance of the Ngansu-Masing Epic” interprets one historical epic in particular, performed in 1972 at the Gambian national radio station. Touma needed funds to travel to The Gambia to work in the National Radio Archives this past winter, where she researched the epic’s performance and its relationship to politics in the Casamance region of Senegal. She also interviewed local scholars and musicians who specialize in the role of griots in the Sengambia region of West Africa and visited the National Archives in Senegal. We’re thrilled to report that Touma will pursue a doctorate in African history next year at Stanford.
Brian Powers '10 completed an honors thesis entitled, “Practice and Protest: Early Black Physicians and the Competing Demands of Professional Life and Racial Activism,” under the direction of Professor Patrick Rael. The essay recovers the history of early African-American physicians in the antebellum North. Brian asks what did it mean to be a black professional at a time when many of their brethren were still enslaved. To quote from Brian’s successful Nyhus application, “this project will seek to understand the nuanced ways in which parental upbringing, medical education, and the realities of medical practice combined to create a unique set of circumstances for each physician…” Brian utilized Nyhus funds to track down primary materials on black physicians at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, the New York Public Library and the Kings City Medical Library (all in New York), and the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Harvard Medical School Archives and the Massachusetts Medical Society. Brian will begin a two-year position this fall as a Program Assistant with the Roundtable for Value and Science Driven Health Care, which is affiliated with the Institute of Medicine in Washington, DC. Long-term, he’s considering medical school, including those that offer a M.D. along with a PhD in the History of Science/Medicine.
Nicholas Pisegna '11
During his senior year at Bowdoin, Nicholas completed an honors thesis in history under the direction of Professor Allen Wells. The project focused on the development of baseball in Cuba and the Dominican Republic and how the sport’s development influenced the growth of the sport in the United States as well as how baseball influenced the political, economic, and cultural relationship among the United States and the two Caribbean islands. He used the Nyhus Travel Grant to fund two separate trips to the A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center in Coopertown, New York, the Baseball Hall of Fame’s historical archive. The archivea houss an extensive collection of unique and rare items that document the complete international and domestic history of baseball. Both trips proved to be vital to the completion of his project, as they allowed him to collect the majority of the primary source material—from newspaper clippings to correspondence among American and Caribbean ballplayers and baseball personnel—that were the backbone of the final version of his thesis.
Scott Ogden '10 completed an honors thesis also under the direction of Professor Rael on one of Bowdoin’s own, President Franklin Pierce. Professional historians have given Pierce short shrift. Thanks to his Nyhus award, Scott located documents about Pierce at the New Hampshire Historical Society and he interviewed Dr. Peter Wallner, “the only Pierce scholar.” His honors thesis entitled, “An Uncommon Devotion: The Marriage of Franklin and Jane Pierce and the Reassessment of a President's Personality,” assesses the role of personal matters on Pierce’s misunderstood and neglected one-term presidency. After taking a breather from academics, Scott is considering pursuing a doctorate in U.S. history.
Darius Alam '09 used the Nyhus Travel Grant to conduct research at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. as well as at the Harvard University Libraries. His project, entitled "From Ummet to nation: Islam, the Alevis, and the development of Turkish nationalism," explored the shift from a predominantly religious concept of political community that structured the Ottoman Empire to an emergent racial and ethnic concept of the nation-state. By focusing on state-treatment of the Alevis, a minority Shi'a religious group within the predominantly Sunni state, Darius was able to trace both the emergence of a race-based state rhetoric and policy, and the continued salience of religion in the formulation of modern nationalism. Darius' project was one of exceptional depth and sophistication, not least as it involved extensive research in both Ottoman and early nationalist (Kemalist) Turkish. The Nyhus Grant enabled Darius to access a tremendous range of little-explored documents for this powerful case study of modern nationalism at the borders of Europe.
Emily Guerin '09 was awarded a large Nyhus Travel Grant to support her research on the forestry industry in modern Chile. Emily's project explored the role of multiple actors in the plantation and native forestry sectors - the state, the private sector, unions, NGOs, and indigenous activists - during a period that spanned Socialist and Neoliberal military regimes. Emily had conducted some preliminary research in Chile during the summer before her senior year; the Nyhus Grant enabled her to travel to Chile again during the winter break to complete her primary research, conducting interviews with environmentalists and indigenous rights activists who were strongly involved with the anti-plantation movement. Although Chile has abundant natural forestry resources, this era saw the general abandonment of the native forestry sector, in large part through extensive government support for exotic species plantation forestry. One of Emily's most interesting findings was that the policies of the Neoliberal Pinochet regime from the mid-1970s through the 1980s in fact diverged little from those that had been instituted by the Socialist regime of Salvador Allende in the early 1970s. Her research enabled her to conclude that state interest in maintaining political control over a volatile region led the Pinochet regime to continue policies of continued state ownership and regulation of the forestry sector.
Jacob Hearst '09 conducted a two-semester advanced independent study on education policy in twentieth-century Nepal. A Nyhus Travel Grant enabled him to conduct research at the Library of Congress into Government of Nepal and Nepali Educational Commission documents from the middle of the century. Jake developed an interest in the question of education while studying abroad in Nepal during his junior year. What Jake sought to understand was the emergence of an ideology of modernization and development and how it took shape among ordinary people during the decades following the overthrow of the monarchy in 1951. Jake's research led him to realize both the longer history of an ideology of education for national development, going back to the early twentieth century among Indian-educated Nepali elites, and the distinctive break marked by the 1951 revolution: not least in that only from this moment did the state formulate an education policy. Jake's research also uncovered the extensive role played by American advisors and the U.S. Operations Mission in supporting and shaping this policy during the Cold War era. Jake's project was able to place this American role alongside that of Nepali elites, both of whom sought to create a modern, unified Nepali people through education.
Jimei Hon's ('09) project took her back to her native New York, where she explored the culture of alcohol consumption during the early twentieth century. In particular, Jimei was interested in the ways alcohol consumption both shaped and was shaped by changing ideas about male-female relationships and social class. She used a Nyhus Travel Grant to explore the newspaper and pamphlet collection of the New York Public Library. Through this research, she was able to trace the emergence of a mixed male-female working-class public drinking culture during the early twentieth century, but also the ways in which the temperance movement enabled middle-class women to assume new public and political roles. Surprisingly, however, her research showed that by the 1930s, working-class women became major advocates of prohibition because of the effects of alcoholism on their families, while middle-class women were able to claim a space for themselves as genteel social drinkers. Alcohol consumption thus not only became a major subject for reformers concerned with "urban vices," but also took on new meanings and enabled new social relations between men and women and new public roles for women.
Wallace (Scot) McFarlane '09 conducted a project close to Bowdoin itself: a history of the early environmental efforts to address the pollution of the Androscoggin River during the middle of the twentieth century. His project focused on the role of a Bates College Professor of Chemistry, Walter Lawrence, who was appointed River Master of the Androscoggin river in 1947 with the task of addressing the deplorable pollution caused by the paper mills. As Scot's project explored, Lawrence developed and elaborate method of daily gauging the smell of the river, attempting to apply empirical science to the sense of smell and to use smell as a measure of pollution. Lawrence's methods were highly controversial even at the time; Scot's research shows the force of the environmental aesthetics and of scientific knowledge in the formulation of environmental policy. The Walter Lawrence Papers, housed at Bates and opened to the public just last year, formed the core of Scot's project. A Nyhus Travel Grant enable Scot to make multiple trips to Bates, where he was the first person to access this invaluable material.
David K. Thomson '08 used his Nyhus Grant to visit two separate archives in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress and at the Moorland-Springarn Research Center at Howard University. David's fascinating and ambitious research agenda revolved around the study of Bowdoin graduate and military man, Oliver Otis Howard (class of 1850). Less famous, and unfortunately, less successful than Bowdoin's revered Joshua Chamberlain, Howard served as a general in the Union army during the Civil War and later, during the campaigns against the Native American tribes of the American Midwest. Not only was Howard a military man, he was also deeply religious, so much so that even during his life he was known as "The Christian General." In his senior honors thesis, "Oliver Otis Howard: The Paradox of the Christian General," David examines the deep conflict that shaped Howard's personality and, likely, prevented him from being a successful leader. David writes, "Every attempt to resolve the paradox only further exacerbated the problem for Howard and contributed to the larger perception of him as an inept general whose religiosity led him to be weak and effeminate."
Munny Munford '07 spent her senior year researching the role of women in the nineteenth-century organization, The American Colonization Society. The American Colonization Society was an organization that founded Liberia in 1822 and transported free blacks there from the United States. Some charged that the ACS was a racist society, while others point to its benevolent origins and later takeover by men with visions of an American empire in Africa. Munny's research culminated in an honors project entitled, "Bound Together By History." As Munny notes, "Women were crucial to the movement that sent freed blacks to Africa and spawned the country of Liberia. They also provide an interesting alternative to those women involved in the Abolition movement." Few scholars have studied the role that women played in the ACS. Munny took advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Nyhus Grant in visits to the Library of Congress, where she explored this fascinating piece of U.S. history, and where she was able to identify and research the women involved in the male dominated ACS.
Mark Viehman '07 also used his Nyhus Grant to visit the Library of Congress and, like Munny, his research resulted in a fine honors thesis. Mark's thesis, "Lynching in the Jim Crow Era: A Study of Southern Counties," depended heavily on recently aggregated census data from a large number of nineteeth-century southern counties. Many have studied "typical" instances of lynching. But by examining southern counties that evidenced atypically high rates of lynchings, Mark hoped to identify discrete factors that contributed to this horrible practice. The Nyhus Grant allowed Mark to give this statistical information a broader cultural context. Using the resources of the Library, which offered him an otherwise impossible opportunity to investigate newspapers and other records from his sample counties. "The result of his research in Washington," writes his faculty advisor, Professor Patrick Rael, "was that he was able not simply to invoke statistics to illustrate patterns of lynching, but also to discuss the economic, social, and cultural conditions affecting lynching rates in local areas."
Kathryn Ostrofsky, a senior from Bangor, Maine is pursuing an honors project under the direction of Patrick Rael on the "life, career, and audience reception of a black opera singer form the 1850s, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield." She will use the Nyhus funds to conduct research at the Philadelphia Historical Society. While pursuing her research in early January, she will attend the American Historical Association annual meetings, go to sessions relating to her area of interest and meet with scholars in the field. Kathryn plans on pursuing a doctorate in American history after graduation.
Stewart Stout is a junior from Berkeley Heights, New Jersey and is completing an independent study with Matt Klingle on wooden boat building in Maine. Stewart is interested in the wooden boat renaissance that began in the 1970s, its relationship to consumer culture in the post-Vietnam era, and "the search for authenticity and art in traditional crafts." He will be locating sources at a host of Maine archives and collections, including the Portland Public Library, the Maine Maritime Museum and a number of wooden boat shops along the coast.
Erin Turban, a senior from Northfield, Illinois is pursuing an honors project under the direction of Page Herrlinger on the Nazi occupation of Britain's Channel Islands during WWII. Although the islands had only a small Jewish population, its British Jewish population and those Jews from the continent who had relocated there during the 1930s were later sent to concentration camps in Germany and Poland by the Nazis. Erin's thesis will examine how the British government and Anglo-Jewish organizations reacted to the Reich's anti-Semitic policies. She will travel to London in December to conduct research in the Home Office at the British National Archives in Kew and the London Metropolitan Archives.
Jennifer Bernstein, '06, from Forest Hills, New York is completing a senior honors thesis under the direction of Jill Pearlman on the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union's efforts to build 500 cooperative apartment units in the Bronx during the 1920s and 1930s. The Amalgamated "was the only large-scale housing cooperative to survive the Depression years." Jen will be conducting research at a number of archives and collection in the New York area.