Graduate Students on the Road: Casper Grants Fund Graduate Student Research Travel

Edited by Lezlie Knox.  This past summer the History Department awarded research grants to four graduate students thanks to a generous endowment provided through the Casper Fund.

Casper Dissertation Fellowships support advanced doctoral students who need to travel to research collections needed for dissertation research. Casper Research Grants support travel for early-career doctoral students who are beginning to plan their dissertation project or for MA students who intend to pursue a doctoral degree and are working on a project requiring travel to collections.

Below, the 2015 Casper fellows describe their projects and results, beginning with the two Dissertation Fellows and followed by the two MA students who earned Casper Research Grants.

Matthew Douglas, ABD, “The Huguenot Experience: Gender, Violence, and the Courts in Nîmes from 1685 until 1788” (Julius Ruff, Director)

As a scholar working on religious toleration within the city of Nîmes, my interests drew me to pamphlets published concerning the religious conflict down at the Newberry library in Chicago. One of the most fascinating set of pamphlets I came across concerned the reception of the Bagarre de Nîmes (1790). This “brawl” featured a massacre of Catholics by Protestants. The blatant violence was another example of continued religious tensions between the groups. Hundreds of conservative Catholics came into Nîmes in mid-June for votes concerning local governance. With the Catholics arriving to vote for their conservative candidates, Protestants moved in from the surrounding areas and eventually mdouglasassacred hundreds who opposed the new Revolutionary electoral measures (namely the election of Protestants to office). In a pamphlet entitled Le Fanatisme Écrasé (Fanaticism Crushed), the Protestant author detailed how Catholic fanaticism had been eliminated from the city as a result of the violence. For my own research, I found it intriguing that the idea of labeling a religious group as fanatics had come full-circle. Catholics who arrested Protestants after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes had always referred to Protestants as either religionnaires or as phanatiques. Now, after civil rights had been granted to Protestants with the Edict of Toleration of 1788, Protestants now thought that conservative Catholics were the fanatics. The trips provided me hundreds of excellent pamphlets that now form parts of the second, third, and fourth chapters of my dissertation. This pamphlet and others concerning post 1789 religious conflict in France speak to cyclical tensions of violence and toleration that my dissertation traces in Nîmes from 1685 onwards. The period between 1685 until 1702 remained rather tolerant, while the years of the Camisard Revolt (1702-1715) were especially bloody. Outside of the cases popularized by Voltaire against Protestants, the years from 1715 until 1788 tended to have less overt violence. The violence returned with the outbreak of the Revolution, and long held religious grudges returned to the surface once Protestants had attained full recognition and civil rights.

Michael Pulido, ABD, “Transmitting a Revolution: Nationalism and the 1953 East German Uprising,” (directed by Julius Ruff and Peter Staudenmaier)

My research into the origins of the 1953 East German Uprising took me to Dresden, Germany, in 2013 where I completed a good bit of my research for a localized study. Unfortunately, German archives do not let researchers take pictures, which limited the amount of material through which I could sift. I complained loudly, but of course only to fellow researchers and friends back in Milwaukee who are probably pretty sick of hearing about it. Flash forward to 2015, and my archive now offers cheap self-service copying, which, combined with the Casper Summer funds and a weak Euro, meant an extra month or so in Dresden to do check sources and examine some new documents.

My dissertation examines the means by which opponents undermined the socialist regime of East Germany in the early 1950s. I’m especially interested in rumor-mongering, leaflets, and foreign radio listenership. RIAS (Radio in the American Sector), the most popular “enemypulido station” in East Germany, continuously critiqued the socialists’ plans and advocated for a united Germany while linking East and West Germans in an alternative public sphere. I spent much of my time collecting evidence of local listenership and other “enemy activity” leading up to the 1953 Uprising. I also spent a week or so researching the postwar construction of the local radio and loudspeaker systems (for the socialist regime to blast its slogans in public spaces) and efforts to counter foreign broadcasting. (Translation of passage on image: (RIAS wants to turn Germans against Germans with its lies.”)

Patrick Bethel, MA student

I used this research funding to examine the Parliamentary Paper Collection at the Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, in order to further research the Irish Orphan Emigrant Scheme, a government program set up in 1848 in order to transport orphaned females from Irish workhouses to the Australian colonies. To this end, I examined reports generated by employees of the Irish Poor Law Board, the body charged with managing the workhouse system in Ireland, during their visits to the various workhouses across the country. To my surprise, I found relatively few mentions of the program, despite its relatively widespread adoption during its roughly 18 months of existence. However, out of the mentions of the program that I was able to find, one, from the Donegal workhouse stood out as an example of how the systems of aid during the Famine period were collapsing under the weight of challenges they had not been designed to face.

The Board of Guardians of the Donegal workhouse sent a letter to their superiors in Dublin on the 27th of March 1848 expressing their desire to enroll as many women as possible in the program and requesting that an inspector be sent to them to evaluate the bethelwomen who had volunteered. On April 8th, the Dublin Board received a second letter, stating that the Donegal board had re-emulated the cost of enrolling in the program and had decided that their finances could not support the expense. Lastly, on May 1st, they reversed the decision of April 8th, as they had been able to collect delinquent local taxes in the interim period. This anecdote, and the data regarding workhouse admittances, will allow me to re-work the portion of my seminar paper dealing with the workhouse situation, which had been based on secondary literature, to incorporate the primary source material that I was able to find during my research trip.

Ashley Meddaugh, MA Student

I travelled to the Newberry Library this summer to examine their collection of French Revolution pamphlets to expand upon my research project from Dr. Hay’s gender seminar last spring. That paper focused on the journey of an English aristocrat to Paris and Switzerland in 1791, and most of the information I included about the Revolution in that paper came from secondary sources. Since this project will be edited and revised into my Master’s thesis, I wanted to include as many primary documents as possible, and the resources at the Newberry have allowed me to do this. The pamphlets I looked at included a good number of petitions to the National Assembly from 1791, as well as speeches made by the representatives on the question of whether to try Louis XVI. One document was published by the Department de Paris, and detailed the Flight to Varennes from the National Assembly’s point of view.

The best find, however, came near the end of day on my final visit to the Newberry. I requested first edition works by Frances Burney and Anna Seward, both of whom were the focus of my undergraduate research project. At the end of Anna Seward’s meddaughLouisa, was the signature of the author herself. Already feeling like I just seen the autograph of a celebrity, I found an unpublished poem from Seward to a close friend, at the end of the Llongallen Vale. Even though I started this trip believing I was just looking into materials for one project, I ended up walking away with a renewed interest in this earlier project that I now hope to expand after (hopefully!) more trips to the Newberry.

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