Professor Allyson Poska Awarded Rapid Response Grant on Covid-19

Professor Allyson Poska portrait History Professor Allyson Poska has been awarded a Rapid Response Grant on Covid-19 and the Social Sciences for her project “Convincing the Masses: Global Public Health and Smallpox Vaccination in the Spanish Empire (1803-1810).”

Presented by the Social Science Research Council in partnership with the Henry Luce Foundation, this competitive grant is intended to “examine the wide-ranging impacts of Covid-19—including on education, the workplace, health care, and religious practices—from the perspectives of a range of disciplines, from anthropology to political science to psychology.”

Poska offers a rich project summary that describes both the history of the 1803 Spanish smallpox vaccine campaign and its current-day relevance, as she writes:

In 1803 Charles IV of Spain initiated a campaign against smallpox, opening vaccination rooms across the peninsula and sending the cowpox vaccine around the globe with the Royal Philanthropic Expedition. This global examination of Spain’s smallpox vaccination campaign analyzes the dynamic between the purveyors of the vaccine and the potential recipients. On both the peninsula and around the globe, the vaccination campaign engaged the diverse populations of the Spanish empire: men and women, rich and poor, Africans (both free and enslaved), Indigenous Americans, Filipinos, mixed-race peoples, and whites (both Spanish and American born). The campaign challenged deeply rooted race and gender hierarchies and asserted new claims to governmental authority.

I intend to examine how each of these groups asserted their own expectations about bodily authority and governmental control as they accepted or rejected the vaccine… This project relates directly to the current Covid-19 as public health authorities grapple with the challenge of encouraging hundreds of millions of people of all races, classes, and cultures to submit to a novel vaccine for a novel virus.

Professor Poska has also received grants for this book project from the American Philosophical Society, The Council of American Overseas Research Centers/NEH Senior Fellowship, and The American Council of Learned Societies. She recently presented work from the project to the Center for Disease Control’s Immunization Division.

Internship Diary: Ethan Knick at the James Monroe Museum (’20)

Ethan Knick on siteOver the past two semesters, I have had the honor to intern at the James Monroe Museum as part of the Albert J. Bowley scholarship program. As I intend to enter the field of public history after graduation, interning a such reputable museum with such an incredible collection (the largest collection of Monroe artifacts in the world) has been an invaluable learning experience. During my time at the museum, I worked with staff on projects related to education, interpretation, exhibit preparation, research, collections management, archival work, and digital history. Thus, it would be impossible for me to relate all of my experiences on this website. However, here are brief overviews of two projects to highlight my experience.

Ethan Knick in costume at the museum siteThis semester, the James Monroe Museum worked with historian Joann Freeman to produce a short internet documentary film about the troubled relationship between Alexander Hamilton and James Monroe, who almost dueled each other in 1797 over a dispute involving the infamous Hamilton-Reynolds Affair. In preparation for shooting the film, I documented provenience on several Hamilton family documents in the museum’s collection and helped to write interview questions for Dr. Freeman. Later on, I appeared in the film itself, which you can view here.

I also had the opportunity to work on an upcoming exhibit focusing on the hundreds of enslaved laborers owned by James and Elizabeth Monroe during their lifetime. For the most part, I conducted research to find any possible information on the lives of these individuals. While information was scarce, I did uncover the stories of several people. For instance, Thena Hemmings became one of James Monroe’s most trusted enslaved servants before tragically passing away at an early age, leaving behind several children. Discovering and bringing to light the stories of individuals like Hemmings proved to be challenging and saddening, but ultimately rewarding.

 

Professor Steven Harris Awarded NEH Summer Stipend

History Professor Steven E. Harris received a summer stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to complete research on his book project, “Flying Aeroflot: A History of the Soviet Union in the Jet Age.” He will conduct this research in summer 2021.

Like many faculty here at UMW, Professor Harris draws upon his scholarly research to develop innovative courses—in this case, the upper-level seminar, “Empires of the Air: Histories of Aviation and Space in the Modern World.” To be taught again in spring 2021, this course examines the history of flight from ballooning in the 18th century to the privatization of space exploration in the 21st. Along the way, students explore the impact of aeronautics and astronautics on global politics and warfare; gender, class, and race relations; imperial and national identities; and popular culture, travel, and commerce.

Professor Harris’s ‘Flying Aeroflot’ project uses commercial aviation to rethink how Soviet state and society evolved from the end of World War II to the communist system’s collapse in 1991. Aeroflot’s dramatic growth from an undeveloped sector under Stalin to the ‘world’s largest airline’ under Brezhnev tells the broader but still little understood story of the Soviet Union’s postwar transformation from an inward-looking terror state focused on industrial production to a superpower that wagered its legitimacy on fulfilling consumer needs at home and establishing a formidable global presence abroad.

By examining Aeroflot as a microcosm of the Soviet system, Harris’s project explains the country’s broader, sustained growth in the postwar era as the result of the state’s successful attempts to create a consumer-oriented, but not consumer-driven economy, propelled by technological development, global expansion, and the legitimizing discourse of Marxist-Leninist ideology.

Image: “Time is What I Gain: A Day by Train or an Hour by Plane” (Aeroflot poster, 1961) Source: Gleb Kotov, ed., Istoriia v plakatakh Aeroflota: K 85-letiiu grazhdanskoi aviatsii Rossii—dniu Aeroflota (Moscow: Aeroflot, 2008), 87.

Cultural History Fellowship – Virginia Outdoors Foundation

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) is seeking candidates for a Cultural History Fellowship position based at their Bull Run Mountains Preserve in Fauquier/Prince William counties. The position will perform research about the diverse people who once called the mountains home. For more details and to apply online, please visit https://www.vof.org/jobs/. Students or recent graduates are welcome to apply.

Full description is at : https://recruiting.paylocity.com/recruiting/jobs/Details/270748/Virginia-Outdoors-Foundation/Fellow

Sarah Pietrowski Earns National Phi Alpha Theta Award


The Department of History and American Studies is delighted to announce that Sarah Pietrowski has earned the national Phi Alpha Theta Undergraduate Scholarship award.

This award is granted for excellence in scholarship to competing History majors in their senior year, along with a $1,000 scholarship to accompany it.

We are happy to cheer Sarah and celebrate her success!

Book Talk – Black History Month Speaker: Dr. Richard Bell

 

Dr. Richard Bell —

“The Reverse Underground Railroad: Slavery and Kidnapping in Pre-Civil War America”

– A talk based on his book Stolen

Tonight, 2/26, 7 pm, Lee Hall 441

All are welcome!

Talking History with Dr. Richard Bell – Today at Noon!


Talking History
with
Dr. Richard Bell,
“Doing Microhistory”

Today (2/26), noon, Monroe 210

Join the Department of History and American Studies as we gather for informal conversations with working historians about their ongoing research. For more information, contact edevlin@umw.edu.