Category Archives: Grad Student News

Patrick C. DeBrosse, PhD candidate, publishes a blog post, “A Note on Names”

Patrick C. DeBrosse, a PhD candidate in History, has published an essay online for Medievalist Toolkit. His essay, “A Note on Names,” explores the challenges that historians of the premodern world face in deciding how to translate personal names into modern English, including the problem of historiographical biases that lead to different conventions for different groups of people.

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Filed under Grad Student News, Public History, Publications

Scott G. Bruce, Professor of History, and W. Tanner Smoot, PhD Candidate, publish an article entitled “The Social Life of an Eleventh-Century Shrine in the Miraculorum sancti Maioli libri duo (BHL 5186)”

Scott G. Bruce, Professor of History, and W. Tanner Smoot, PhD Candidate, published their article entitled “The Social Life of an Eleventh-Century Shrine in the Miraculorum sancti Maioli libri duo (BHL 5186)” in Journal of Medieval Monastic Studies 12 (2023): 27-51. Congratulations, Scott and Tanner!

Below is the abstract:

The early eleventh-century Miraculorum sancti Maioli libri duo narrated accounts of more than four dozen miracles that took place at the shrine of Maiolus of Cluny in the town of Souvigny, where the abbot died in 994. This article examines the evidence of this little-known source to reconstruct the social life of a popular pilgrimage destination at the turn of the first millennium. It presents a profile of the kinds of people who visited Maiolus’s tomb, including their names, genders, and occupations. Next, it analyses the maladies for which these pilgrims sought relief through the healing power of the saint. Finally, it explores the social networks that facilitated the movement of pilgrims with motor and sensory disabilities from their homes to the abbot’s shrine.

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Filed under Faculty News, Grad Student News, Publications

HGSA hosts “Historic Horror Stories” for Halloween.

On October 31, the History Graduate Student Association (HGSA) hosted “Historic Horror Stories,” a reading of primary sources appropriate for Halloween. The event, held in the History Department, included readings of Walter Map, Orderic Vitalis, and William of Malmsebury.

Graduate students read horror-themed primary sources aloud.
Douglass Hamilton strikes terror into his fellow grads!

To find out about more upcoming HGSA events, contact Benjamin Bertrand and Owen G. Clow!

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Filed under Events, Grad Student News

Jordyn H. May, PhD candidate, publishes a blog post, “‘Bears Do Not Roam the Streets’: Woman Suffrage and the Reimagining of the American West.”

Jordyn H. May, a PhD candidate in History, has published an essay online in the Journal of the History of Ideas Blog. Her essay, “’Bears Do Not Roam the Streets’: Woman Suffrage and the Reimagining of the American West,” explores the important role that maps played in the U.S. women’s suffrage movement, with a particular emphasis on the depiction of the American West in contemporary maps. Congratulations, Jordyn!

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Stephen J. Cerulli, PhD Candidate, quoted in the New York Times.

A New York Times article has cited the expertise of Stephen J. Cerulli, a Fordham History PhD Candidate, on the history of pizza. The article, “The Many Lives of Tomato Pie” by Mari Uyehara, explores different styles of tomato pie which groups of Italian immigrants developed across the Northeast United States. Read the article here before grabbing a slice!

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Matt Mulhern, PhD Student, publishes a book review, “Cold War Liberation: The Soviet Union and the Collapse of the Portuguese Empire in Africa, 1961–1975 by Natalia Telepneva.”

Matt Mulhern, PhD Student, published a book review, “Cold War Liberation: The Soviet Union and the Collapse of the Portuguese Empire in Africa, 1961–1975 by Natalia Telepneva,” Journal of Cold War Studies 25, no. 1 (Winter 2023): 219-222. Congratulations, Matt!

Access the review through MIT Press Direct.

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Matt Mulhern, PhD Student, publishes a book review, “Afghan Crucible: The Soviet Invasion and the Making of Modern Afghanistan, by Elisabeth Leake.”

Matt Mulhern, PhD Student, published a book review, “Afghan Crucible: The Soviet Invasion and the Making of Modern Afghanistan, by Elisabeth Leake,” Journal of Military History 87, no. 3 (July 2023): 878-79. Congratulations, Matt!

To access the review, see the instructions from The Society for Military History.

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From the Archives: Emily Horihan, PhD Candidate, visits the Archives & Special Collections at the College of Staten Island

Emily Horihan – History department PhD Candidate (Cohort 2019-20) working with Dr. Daniel Soyer – is currently working on her dissertation, the working title of which is: “Suburb in the City: Negotiating Change in Staten Island after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.” In this week’s From the Archives, Emily shares some of her experiences while researching at the Archives & Special Collections at the College of Staten Island.

What is your current research on?

My dissertation research looks at how Staten Island residents responded to rising development –  in the form of housing, highways, commercial spaces, and industrial facilities – in the borough following the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964. I’ve been looking at collections organized by local officials and citizen groups during this period.

What archive(s) did you visit and can you describe the archive a little?

Most of my archival research has been done at Archives & Special Collections at the College of Staten Island (CSI). The archive is housed within CSI’s library in Staten Island. The archivist and a college assistant helped me to schedule research appointments,; made sure I was cleared to visit campus (which requires proof of vaccination and a recent negative COVID-19 test); and prepared materials requested for each of my research trips. The archive has limited hours – it’s open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and Thursdays from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm. 

What was an average day in the archives like?

Since I work full-time, I always plan to take vacation time and spend a full day at the archive (which is only possible on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). I email archives@csi.cuny.edu to request an appointment in advance – noting how long I plan to spend in the archive and which materials I plan to look at for the day. I also make sure that I am still cleared to enter campus before each appointment.

I take public transportation to the CSI campus from Brooklyn (along with a bunch of students that commute there from around the city). The bus drops passengers off at the front entrance and the library is a leisurely 15-minute walk to the back of the campus. Once at the archive, I check in with the staff, who set me up with a cart of research materials and a workspace. On most days, I’m the only researcher at the archive.

The research room is pretty cold, so I always bring a sweatshirt to keep warm. To maximize research time, I usually pack a quick lunch to eat outside while the archivist and archive assistant take their lunch break. Unless you want to grab lunch at an on-campus eatery, most places are a short drive away. I connect to the guest wifi and spend much of the day taking photos and to upload and catalog for each collection (taking limited notes as needed along the way). I usually wrap up around 4:30 pm to give the archive assistant enough time to put away any materials taken out for the day.

Was there anything surprising you found in your research?

The Staten Island Advance, a local newspaper that is important to my research, is only available on microfilm. In my archival research, I was surprised to find how many collections contained newspaper clippings from the Staten Island Advance, which helped me to save time sorting through microfilm. If you do need to use microfilm, you can also request it from Fordham’s Interlibrary Loan Office to use during business hours in Walsh Library.

What advice would you give for anyone interested in visiting the archive you went to?

As with any archival trip, come prepared! Schedule an appointment in advance. Set goals. Bring what you need. And have a system for organizing your photos and/or notes.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing historical research?

Start your research online. Many collections are digitized and you should do as much research online as possible before heading to the archives. 

How can people follow your research?

Emily recently published a blog post in SAPIENTIA: Reflection and Revival: Sandy Ground, One of New York’s Oldest Free Black Settlements.

Pen dispensers at the College of Staten Island Library.
Pen dispensers at the College of Staten Island Library. 

From the Archives is a special series for the Fordham History blog which highlights the research experiences of members of the history department in an effort to both showcase their work and provide insight for future researchers preparing for their own archival projects.

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Filed under From the Archives, Grad Student News, Graduate Student, Research

From the Archives: Jordyn May, PhD Candidate, visits the Huntington Library

Jordyn May – History department PhD Candidate (Cohort 2017-18) working with Dr. Kirsten Swinth – is currently completing his dissertation, entitled: “‘A campaign so splendid could not fail’: Reexamining the Woman Suffrage Movement through Interrelationships between the Eastern and Western Branches.” In this week’s From the Archives, Jordyn hares some of her experiences while researching at the Huntington Library in California.

What is your current research on?

My research for the dissertation currently examines the California and New York woman suffrage state campaigns from 1890 to 1920, specifically looking at how suffragists from the East and West influenced each other’s strategies, methods, and tactics. My research also delves into how tensions developed between Eastern and Western suffragists and how that influenced the national movement.

What archive did you visit and can you describe the archive a little?

I visited the Huntington Library in San Marino, California in July 2022. The Huntington is gorgeous as it is also a famous botanical garden. The library and reading room was situated close to the entrance of the garden, but after the end of the day, I was able to wander the whole area. The sunshine and fresh air was definitely nice after being in a freezing archive all day! The reading room was very nice and all of the archivists were incredibly helpful. I spoke to a curator who knew the collections inside and out and who was able to give me great advice on what collections to look at. 

What was the purpose of your trip? What type of documents did you plan to look at? What makes those documents unique for your research?

The purpose of my trip was to find crucial primary source information about how the state campaigns operated in Southern California as I had done a previous research trip to Northern California. I looked at a lot of correspondence between suffragists, organizational records, speeches and essays written by suffragists, suffrage newspapers, biographies of a couple suffragists, and histories of other organizations in California that helped with the campaigns. Reading the correspondence between various suffragists has been the most enlightening. These women were very sassy and did not hold back when discussing their views of other women and the tactics of the movement. These letters give me the best, unfiltered, view of the tensions between Eastern and Western suffragists.

What was a challenge you encountered during your research? How did you overcome it?

No one tells you how exhausting it actually is to sit in a reading room and look through documents all day. I had a month long fellowship at the Huntington which meant I was in the reading room Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm with a short break for lunch and I often went Saturday mornings as well. Research can be very exciting when you are finding documents that you need or find something you didn’t know existed, but the rest of the time is sorting through boxes and folders and can be incredibly mentally taxing, especially when you are trying to decipher handwritten documents! When I got too tired and mentally strained, I tried to change tasks or take more breaks to rest a little. 

The organization of the collections was also not standardized, so there were some collections that had no finding aids. I would have to request every box in the collection just to see if it was even worth looking at. It was frustrating, but I also found interesting material that I might not have requested in the first place.

Did you receive any funding to support your research?

I applied for and received a short-term fellowship from the Huntington to support my research. The application was due in November and was fairly simple. The application consisted of a 1,500 word project description, current CV, and two letters of recommendation. I received the award letter in March and spent my month in California in July. The grant was for $3,500 which helped cover travel and living expenses for the month, but the award money is paid out after you have already been there for a few weeks. Affordable housing was a little difficult to find within walking distance of the Huntington which was my only qualm with the award amount.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing historical research?

It may sound weird, but do your research before you do your research. You want to be fully prepared before you go into the archive. That means looking at all the finding aids for each collection you want to view and marking exactly which boxes and folders you need to see. One of the collections I investigated at the Huntington was over 100 boxes. I couldn’t feasibly look at all of them so I made a spreadsheet detailing what I absolutely had to look at to help narrow it down. You also need to prioritize your research. Make sure you are viewing the documents you know you need and then looking at documents that might be just interesting afterwards. Time goes by quickly in the reading room and you want to make sure your time is well spent, especially if you are only there for a few days.

The Yellow Ribbon was a short-lived suffrage newspaper specifically for the West Coast. The Huntington had all of the issues, and I think they are one of the only archives to have a complete collection.

From the Archives is a special series for the Fordham History blog which highlights the research experiences of members of the history department in an effort to both showcase their work and provide insight for future researchers preparing for their own archival projects.

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Garret J. McDonald, PhD Candidate, publishes an article entitled “Journeys through the Past and to the Future: V. A. Obruchev and Popular Enlightenment in the Natural Sciences, 1886–1956” in The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review

Garret J. McDonald, PhD Candidate, published his article entitled “Journeys through the Past and to the Future: V. A. Obruchev and Popular Enlightenment in the Natural Sciences, 1886–1956” in The Society and Post-Soviet Review. Congratulations Garret!

Below is the Abstract:

This essay examines the life and career of famed Russian geologist, geographer, and academician of the Soviet Academy of Sciences V. A. Obruchev. By emphasizing Obruchev’s commitment to popular enlightenment within and beyond his scientific disciplines, a clearer portrait of Obruchev’s lasting influence in Soviet science and literature emerges. Over the course of his career, Obruchev devised an original model of public science, one that renegotiated the traditional boundaries between science fiction, popular science, and academic discourse. As a result, Obruchev’s scientific research granted form and function to his popular fiction and his fiction, in turn, provided a space to explore the possibilities of scientific hypotheses and promote the active research of the scientific phenomena Obruchev considered significant. By the time of Obruchev’s death in 1956, other natural scientists, especially geoscientists, and science fiction authors had coopted Obruchev’s approach to popular enlightenment, cementing his legacy.

Cover of The Society and Post-Soviet Review

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