Posts Tagged 'Lisa Lamson'

Historians Working: Awards Season

Late winter and spring are often called “award season” by show-business types: the Golden Globes and Oscars, the Grammys and Tonys—the list goes on and on.

Spring is also award season for academics, and MU Historians have had a very good year! Here’s a list of the grants and awards our friends and colleagues in the history department have earned this year.  Scroll down and you’ll see more detailed descriptions of their projects.

Tim McMahon: Way Klingler Humanities Fellowship

Jenn Finn: Way Klingler Young Scholar Award; Scott R. Jacobs Fund Fellowship for Studies on Alexander the Great

Bryan Rindfleisch: Way Klingler Young Scholar Award; Bright InstituteFellow,Knox College

Kristen Foster: Summer Faculty Fellowship

Chima Korieh: Regular Research Grant/Summer Faculty Fellowship

Cory Haala: Schmitt Fellowship, MU;Paul Simon Congressional Papers Travel Stipend; Dirksen Congressional Research Grant

Lisa Lamson: Center for Transnational Justice Graduate Student Research Grant; Lord Baltimore Research Fellowship, Maryland Historical Society; MU Graduate School Dean’s Research Enhancement Award

Luke Greenwalt: Center for Transnational Justice Graduate Student Research Grant

Sam Harshner: Colonial Dames Research Fellowship

Ben Nestor: Funded Attendee: Teaching Anti-Semitism in the Twenty-First Century, York University (Canada)

Maggie Nettesheim-Hoffman: Travel grant from the Economic History Society at the London School of Economics; Tilly Award from the Social Science History Association.

Laura Matthew: Mellon Grant—“Remembering Madre Rosa: Oral Histories of a Marquette Doctor in Highland Guatemala, 1962-1992.”

Alison Efford: Mellon Grant—“HIST 4120 Collaboration with St. Rafael School to Research the Latino History of Milwaukee,”

Lezlie Knox: Mentor of the Year, Arts and Sciences

Jolene Kreisler: Outstanding Staff Member of the Year, Arts and Sciences

Major faculty research awards: The University makes several research awards funded by the Way Klingler fund each; the awards are made at the Distinguished Scholars Reception every March.  This year three historians were recognized for the past accomplishments and for their ongoing research.

Tim McMahon became the first member of the department to receive a Way Klingler Humanities Fellowship—only one is awarded each year, and it provides $20,000 in research funding for three years. Tim’s book focuses on a pivotal moment in modern British and Irish history—that is, the establishment of two separate states on the island of Ireland in 1921-22.  He seeks to understand the emergence of two distinct national identities in Ireland between 1910 and 1930, building on sociologist Rogers Brubaker’s insight that group identities are not static but occur as events in time that are changeable and analyzable. What makes the presence of the Irish border so important to understanding identity formation in the 1920s is that neither Irish nationalists nor unionists had proposed dividing the island in any serious way prior to 1918. Once the Tim acceptsboundary was in place, however, conflicting forces associated with state-formation on the one hand and civil society on the other created a new dynamic, as island-wide institutions (such as churches) and trade networks adapted to link people in new ways. Indeed, until late in 1925, many thought that the border might cease to exist because Irish and British negotiators had agreed to create a boundary commission to assess exchanging territory according to “the will of the people.” That phrase and the mechanism of a commission to assess the popular “will” came almost directly from the treaties written at the Versailles Conference of 1919, and in fact, staff who served on the Irish Boundary Commission had experience serving on similar commissions in central Europe after Versailles. Placing the Irish case into this context is, thus, critical to understanding what the state actors believed they were doing. But it goes only a limited way toward helping historians assess how the people of Ireland—and especially the people along the new border—saw themselves before the boundary existed, while its existence remained in doubt, or after the British and Irish governments suppressed the Commission’s recommendations. (The border remains intact to this day.) Tracking opinions about border identities before and after partition will enable Tim to move beyond the rhetoric of those claiming to speak on behalf of “Irish” nationalists or “British” unionists to assess the wider population’s own self-conceptions, pace Brubaker. Given the ongoing importance of partition in Ireland and elsewhere in the former British Empire, as well as the implications of the Brexit referendum, a detailed study of identity formation on this frontier has both historical and contemporary resonance.

Bryan Rindfleisch and Jenn Finn became the third and fourth historians to receive Way Klingler Young Scholar Awards(their awards also mark the first time two members of a humanities department have earned the awards in the same year). The awards provide a semester sabbatical and $2000 of research funding.

Bryan acceptsBryan’s first book, George Galphin’s Intimate Empire: Intercultural Family, Trade, & Colonialism in Early America, will be published by the University of Alabama Press in 2019. His new project, for which he was named a Way Klingler Young Scholar, is tentatively called From Creek (Mvskoke) to Cherokee (Tsalagi):The Entangled Histories of Native America, 1600-1800. Bryan’s ambitious goalis to change the ways in which historians understand and articulate the history of Native America by demonstrating the complex and multi-dimensional inter-connections of Indigenous societies in Early America.  His topic will be the intertwined histories of the Creek and Cherokee tribes in the eighteenth century southeast, who through intermarriage and other connections came to share territory and to live in shaed communities.  This led a younger generation of Creeks and Cherokees assert their own political interests separate from that of the traditional structures of authority in their societies. “This,” as Bryan says, “only scratches the surface of many such intersections between Native groups in Early America.”

            Jenn published her first book,Much Ado about Marduk: Questioning Discourses of Royalty in First Millennium Mesopotamian Literature, a year ago. Her Way Klingler Young Scholar award will further her work on a second book, History Rewritten: Revisionism in/on the Age of Alexander the Great,will focus on specific—though not mutually exclusive—ways in which history was represented both during and after Alexander’s Jenn acceptsreign. She will accomplish this through a series of case studies that examine the ways in which Alexander himself—as well as those who recorded his history many centuries later—manipulated received narratives of Mediterranean history to create something entirely new in their own period. In addition to helping  us understanding the phenomenon of historical revisionism, a major goal of the book is to make ancient history accessible to a wider audience of scholars in the Humanities.

Bryan received another honor this spring: he is one of fourteen members of the first cohort of fourteen fellows in the newly established Bright Institute at Knox College, a program for professors who teach early American history at liberal arts colleges. They will attend a two-week, in-residence summer seminar for three years on the Knox campus. Each year’s seminar will be co-hosted by an eminent professor of American history before 1848 and a pedagogical consultant who will help participants turn their research into incisive classroom opportunities.

Read more about this exciting program at

Jenn also received a $2500 research grant from the Scott R. Jacobs Fund Fellowship for Studies on Alexander the Great; it will help fund a research trip to Greece late in the summer.

The Committee on Research offers a number of Summer Faculty Fellowships (SFF) every year, along with Regular Research Grants (RRG). The former pays for two months of time to write or do research; the latter provides funding for travel to archives and other research costs.  This year, two history faculty received grants this year.

Kristin Foster also received an SFF for “Finding Cato Adams,” which is part of a larger book manuscript entitled Haiti’s Mirror: Reflections of Race, Revolution, and Equality in Early Americathat sets American ideas about equality in the context of the revolutionary Atlantic World. “Finding Cato Adams” seeks to recover the lives of free black citizens in Foster01the early Mid-Atlantic. To date, scholars have argued that the founding generation did not support racial equality in early America. This project questions and complicates this argument by asserting that the first generation of Americans shaped a republic of propertied citizens, only moving to a white man’s republic after the violence of the Haitian Revolution. While the voices of Cato Adams and hundreds of free black heads of households in the 1790 census have been hushed by time and distance, their lives are significant as testimonies of black citizenship in revolutionary-era America.

Chima Korieh received a Regular Research Grant and a Summer Faculty Fellowship for Chima-Korieha project tentatively called “The Genuine Farmer: Gender and the Dynamics of Agricultural Change in Colonial Southeastern Nigeria,” which will be a history of the gendered nature of colonial agricultural planning and their impact on agricultural transformation in southeastern Nigeria from 1900 to 1960. Chima will explore the specific circumstances under which rural farmers produced, how colonial planners ignored women, and their effects on rural life. He hopes to show that changing gender relations, local perspectives, ecological and demographic variables, and local responses, offer a better understanding of agricultural policies and agricultural transformation during this crucial period in Nigeria’s history.

 Graduate Student Awards and Fellowships:

Several graduate students also received research funding this spring.  Cory Haala s200_cory.haalareceived one of a handful of Schmitt Fellowships from MU’s graduate school. This provides a full year fellowship to complete research and begin writing his dissertation on “The Progressive Center: Midwestern Liberalism inn the Age of Reagan, 1978-1992.”

The MU Center for Transnational Justice awarded $2500 Graduate Student Research Grants to PhD candidate Lisa Lamson and MA student Luke Greenwalt.  Lisa’s grant will help fund research for her dissertation on “Black Girlhood and Education in Baltimore City, 1820-1890,” while Luke’s will help him complete research on “Patterns of Racism and Nationalism in post-WWII Germany.”

40030Lisa has also received a Lord Baltimore Research Fellowship from the Maryland Historical Society and a Graduate School Dean’s Research Enhancement Award. The former gives her expanded access to the Historical Society’s collection, give her the chance to present her research-in-progress in a brown-bag presentation, write a post for the library’s blog, and submit my finished work for possible publication for the Maryland Historical Magazine.  The latter provides a $5,000 stipend to allow her to prepare and write a major extramural research funding application.

HarshnerSam Harshner received a $4000 Colonial Dames Fellowship to help fund research on his dissertation, which is tentatively called “Pope’s Day and Masculinity: An Ideology of the American Revolution.”

Ben Nestor received full funding to attend a workshop on “Teaching Anti-Semitism in the Twenty-First Century,” at York University (Canada), which is Sponsored by the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University, the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto photo-ss-benjamin-nestorand the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University. This intensive summer institute is for advanced graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and early career scholars.

Maggie Nettesheim-Hoffman’s travel grant from the Economic History Society partially funded her travel to the New Directions in American Philanthropy Conference in Sheffield, England, where she delivered the paper, Maggie-Nettesheim“A Menace to the National Welfare: The Final Report of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations & The Progressive Era Critique of American Philanthropic Foundations.”  The Tilly Award from the Social Science History Association recognizes an outstanding graduate student paper at the SSHA’s annual conference (this year in Montreal, Canada); Maggie’s award-winning paper was on“The Philanthropic Factory: Capitalism, Corporate Charity, and Forging New Socio-Economic Worker Identities in Milwaukee,”

Mellon Grants

The College of Arts and Science’s Mellon fund provides funding for projects that enhance undergraduate education. The department has received a number of these grants over the years, many of which have funded public history programming. This year,  Laura Matthew received $13,000 for “Remembering Madre Rosa: Oral Histories of a Marquette Matthew-KS2A8144Doctor in Highland Guatemala, 1962-1992.” She is leading an undergraduate student research team to investigate the history of dozens of Maryknoll Sisters who studied at Marquette in the mid-20th century, then ran a rural regional hospital in the middle of the Guatemalan civil war. The Mellon grant will pay for Laura and the students to travel to Guatemala in the summer of 2018. The  team visited the archives of the Maryknoll Sisters in Ossining, NY, over spring break, with support from the Office of International Education.

alisonAlison Efford received nearly $1000 of Mellon funding forHIST 4120 Collaboration with St. Rafael School to Research the Latino History of Milwaukee,” which enables students from St. Rafael School on Milwaukee’s South Side to travel to campus several times during the course of a semester to work on Milwaukee Latino history projects with students in her immigration history class.  William Denzer, a graduate assistant, blogged about this project last spring at Historians@Work (

Annual Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Awards

            Finally, although not directly related to research, two members of the department received prestigious awards at the annual Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Awards.

Lezlie Knox was named Mentor of the Year.  Honored chiefly for her work as Director of Graduate Studies for half a decade, Lezlie was described by one student supporter in this way:Without her counsel, I may have passed up a number of significant opportunities that proved to be key components in my journey as a scholar. She has a way of listening to her students and understanding the variety of individual strengths we bring to our studies, and makes individual recommendations for success based upon our unique talents. I owe much of my success as a graduate student and as an academic to Dr. Knox. My successes, however, are only one example. She is an advocate for all of her students and has guided many of my colleagues on to similar achievements.  We are stronger students and professional academics, and better prepared for the world outside Marquette University because of Dr. Knox’s work on our behalf.”

IMG_3781Jolene Kreisler was named Outstanding Staff Member. Jolene’s nomination declared thather enthusiastic kindness towards students and her commitment to fulfilling her duties  . . . contributes to the academic mission of the University. Jolene has definitely taken ownership of her position at MU, and considers herself a representative of the university when dealing with students, parents, and other members of the MU community.  She is very, very good at her job, but her demeanor, kindness, professionalism, and good cheer truly separate her from many other administrative assistants on campus.


Frederick Douglass Day: Transcribing History

By Lisa Lamson

After an hour of transcribing for the “Frederick Douglass Day: Transcribe-a-thon,” a student approached me and said that, although she had completed her mandatory Screenshot_20180213-223738hour of transcription, she wanted to continue working on a series of letters written by and about a single family; she wanted to know how their story ended. My warning that “you might not find the ending you want,” fell on deaf ears – she had begun to transcribe documents and she was going to continue until she was satisfied.

This student’s excitement regarding the act of transcribing was one of many responses I received during Marquette’s “Frederick Douglass Day: Transcribe-a-thon.” She was there because Dr. Rob Smith’s African American History class had been assigned to do an hour of transcription, but the mandatory assignment had also parked her curiosity. I coordinated Marquette’s “Frederick Douglass Day: Transcribe-a-thon” through the Ott Memorial Writing Center on Wednesday, February 14th. This was part of a national event celebrating the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass, one of the most well-known anti-slavery and black equality advocates in the nineteenth century. The Transcribe-a-thon was nationally sponsored by the University of Delaware’s Colored Conventions Project, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Smithsonian Transcription Center, to celebrate Douglass’s 200th birthday. I was tapped for this event for many reasons – I am a40030 nineteenth century historian whose work focuses on girls of color in Maryland (where Frederick Douglass was born) and I am a graduate writing tutor at the Writing Center. I also passionately believe in making history and the work historians do accessible to everyone, inside and outside of the academy. The Transcribe-a-thon allowed me to combine these elements of my work at Marquette and, in the Jesuit tradition, service the greater community. On the heels of Service Week and in the middle of Black History Month, I could not pass on this great opportunity to show value in the work that historians do and transcribe documents that share the rich histories found in the papers of the Freedmen’s Bureau.

After Douglass’s death in 1895, black communities established Douglass Day to celebrate his life. Douglass Day was one of the inspirations for Black History Month. Last year, in 2017, archivists at the University of Delaware revived Douglass Day as an occasion to encourage the transcription of the approximately two million image files of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, commonly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau.

For several years after the Civil War, the Bureau aided formerly enslaved individuals during their transition to freedom and eventual citizenship. The Freedmen’s Bureau officers created one of the richest documentary records of African American individuals living in the fifteen Southern and border states and in Washington D.C. The records include letters, labor contracts, lists of food rations, indentureship and apprenticeship contracts, and marriage and hospital registers from throughout the South.

Among the many services the Bureau provided for the newly freed enslaved people and African Americans included securing food, clothing, legal representation, education, helped legalize formally enslaved individual’s marriages, and assisted 40011African American soldiers and sailors in securing back pay, bounties, and pensions. One of the goals of the Freedman’s bureau was to assist many of the newly freed peoples who wanted to find their families that had been separated through enslavement. The documents transcribed during the Transcript-a-thon provided a window into many different stories and narratives. To celebrate Black History Month and the spirit of Frederick Douglass, the Colored Conventions Project decided to honor the efforts of the Freedman’s Bureau in assisting African Americans and formerly enslaved people’s efforts to find their families.

The “Transcript-a-thon” was also intended to “help African Americans discover their ancestors and help historians better understand the impact of freedom and unfreedom in the years following the Civil War” by allowing anyone with an internet connection access to these documents. Digitizing continues the efforts of the ancestors of these newly freed people to find their families.

At Marquette, students– both undergraduate and graduate – and Writing Center and library staff gathered in Raynor Library 227 for four hours (though many students wandered in and out as class schedules permitted) to do some of the practical work of being a historian. They scrolled through images of documents and typed what they read (their transcriptions will later be reviewed by members of the Smithsonian transcription team). My job was to help students work through the lack of standardized spelling and punctuation, to provide a second opinion on words that they were unsure about, and generally celebrate their successes as individuals worked through a phrase, a sentence, and a document.

Through the sponsorship of the Ott Memorial Writing Center, the Center for the Advancement of the Humanities, the History Department, Dr. Rob Smith’s African American History class, and many other campus organizations we were able to celebrate with cake, cupcakes, and other assorted snacks. In fact, the cake was one of the things I insisted upon as Dr. Rebecca Nowacek, the director of the Ott Writing 40006Center, and I planned the event. It wouldn’t be a birthday party without birthday cake. As people transcribed, we listened to a special Frederick Douglass-inspired Spotify list that spanned the decades and included songs like “Free” by Deniece Williams, “Living for the City,” by Stevie Wonder, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron, “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, “Possibility (2nd Movement)” by the Roots, and “Say it Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” by James Brown.

Often, a discussion emerged about what people were finding in their documents, as people shared their struggles and their triumphs as they worked through their transcriptions. One student found a mistake in several of the documents she transcribed, where “Surg” was often transcribed as “Furg, Ferg, or Farg,” and many notes suggested that the previous transcribers were not sure what the official title of the letter writer was. Paging through the image files, she found a typed version of one of the previous letters that contained the individual’s name and title in question, and, after discussion with other transcribers to ensure she was correct, went back through the previous transcriptions and corrected some of them. During her conversations with other students, several noted similar language or abbreviations in their own document, and this prompted several of them to look up guides into nineteenth-century abbreviations to help with their understanding of the documents. The collaboration enriched the experience. As these stories show, the study of history is much more dynamic and alive than books would suggest.

This event and project is not just limited to one day throughout the year. The Freedmen’s Bureau Transcription Project is one of the largest crowdsourcing initiatives ever sponsored by the Smithsonian and is ongoing. The website—–contains all of the information you need to begin your own transcription and to be captivated by the stories these documents hold. Though Douglass Day is over, the transcription goes on.

Lisa Lamson is a PhD candidate in history at Marquette University.

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