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Senior Theses

2010-11 | 2009 - 10 | 2008 - 09 | 2007 - 08 | 2006 - 07 | 2005 - 06

The capstone experience for students pursuing a history major is the production of their own undergraduate thesis. The thesis is written during the Fall semester of one's senior year, when every History major enrolls in History 460: Senior Project Seminar. In preparation for this class, History majors must complete two pre-requisites: History 258 and History 360. These earlier classes are designed to familiarize students the "nuts and bolts" of the research process, as well as the concept of historiography. Each senior project is produced under the guidance of the course instructor and a content advisor. At the end of the semester, majors present and defend their research in a public forum.

2010 - 11 Theses

  • Kala Bohigian, "Slave Revolt Conspiracy in NYC in 1741." Advisor: Richard Bond
  • Jennifer Brown, "Hannah Ropes & Nurses in Union Hospitals." Advisor: Daniel Margolies
  • Rebecca Driscoll, "Women and the Contagious Diseases Acts, 1864-86." Advisor: Sara Sewell
  • Chavon Freeman, "Korean Comfort Women under Japan, 1931-45." Advisor: Daniel Margolies
  • Meagan Jones, "Censorship of Federal Theatre Project, 1936-38." Advisor: Susannah Walker
  • Chelsea Panissidi, "Civil War in Franklin, Virginia." Advisor: Daniel Margolies

2009 - 10 Theses

  • Caitlin Donlan, "1950s Housewives & Image in Popular Magazines." Advisor: Susannah Walker
  • John Maravich, "State-Sponsored Geology in Antebellum Virginia." Advisor: Richard Bond
  • James Sawyer, "Guerrilla Warfare in the Anglo-Boer War." Advisor: Clay Drees
  • Rachel Topping, "Domesticity & Women in Victorian England." Advisor: Clay Drees

2008 - 09 Theses

  • Michael Evans, "The Order of the Knights Templar: Defenders of the Faith or Proponents of Heresy?" Advisor: Clayton Drees
  • Koren Brittney Robins, "Our Mother Who Art in Heaven: The Memory of Ann Lee, Mother of the Shakers." Advisor: Richard Bond
  • Evin Stovall, "Back Door Dealings: National Security, Hegemony, and the Reagan Administration in Latin America." Advisor: Daniel Margolies

2007 - 08 Theses

  • Brandan Adams, "Changing Jamestown: Environmental Conditions and the Starving Time." Advisor: Richard Bond
    • Abstract: In founding the colony of Jamestown in 1607, the English experienced harsh circumstances. By 1609 and 1610, Jamestown looked to flounder due to poor governmental leadership, a weak relationship with the Powhatan Indians, and various environmental issues that the English were ill-prepared to tolerate. The environment, which caught the English by surprise, initially proved to be a larger challenge for them to handle. These various environmental issues, including extreme climatic weather patterns, the introduction of domesticated animals, and the alteration of land due to humans all provide valid explanations as to why the English went through a period known as the Starving Time
  • Sean Coffey, "The Jewish Resistance and Revolt in Sobibor." Advisor: Sara Sewell
    • Abstract: In the summer 1943, the inmates at the death camp known as Sobibor began to organize with the intent of escaping. The brutalities which the Jews were surrounded by increased the desire to rebel. When the Jews were under the conviction of death, they decided to finally escape. In the late afternoon of the October 14th the Jews killed many of the guards and the SS officers which. They broke down the surrounding fences and fled from the camp site. Soon after the insurrection, the Germans leveled the camp and attempted to cover up the site from discovery.
  • Kentoya Downing, "The Struggle over Black Economic Agency on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in the Post-Reconstruction Jim Crow South." Advisor: Susannah Walker
    • Abstract: The Onancock Race Riot of 1907 was a response to blacks trying to gain in on the town's prosperity. As many blacks started to leave the town of Onancock, the shortage of labor became noticeable. Blacks who remained on the Eastern Shore began to realize the value of their work, and began to organize and pass resolutions to fix the price of their labor. Anger and violence over the wage movement escalated when a young clerk failed to pay a rental fee to his white livery owner. In response to a dispute over an outstanding livery bill, local whites rioted and burned black property, estimated at over a couple of thousand dollars. These black leaders provoked fear and resentment among the whites because they represented the symbol of black independence. They were able to advocate to blacks to demand higher wages for their labor. That they could bargain as equals with whites. In the violence that took place these black men actually dared to defend themselves. But in the end, the reaction of the governor, town council, and military did little to redress the basic inequality between blacks and whites on the Eastern Shore of Virginia during the early twentieth century. In the midst of the violence, the two main structures that represented black progress, aspiration, and defiance were quickly destroyed.
  • Hunter Morgan, "Indian Scouts during the Little Big Horn: A Forgotten People." Advisor: Daniel Margolies
    • Abstract: While the story of the Little Big Horn has become a standard history for both scholars and citizens alike, too often has a major piece of the battle been largely ignored: the role of the Indian scouts. While Custer and Crazy Horse are glorified, the importance of Indian scouts in the overall battle and campaign has been continuously overlooked. Those Indians who helped the United States Army locate the enemy not only were looked down upon by their white comrades, but they did so at the risk of losing their family and traditional lifestyle. Documents of the time period show that in fact the scout's contributions made during the campaign were significant, and their role is deserving of recognition.

2006 - 07 Theses

  • Jennifer Gillis, "Female Spies and Changing Gender Roles during the Civil War." Advisor: Daniel Margolies
  • Laura Nogrady, "Racial Relations and Free Persons of Color in New Orleans: 1803-1861." Advisor: Daniel Margolies
    • Abstract: I focused on the social systems within early New Orleans, mainly those dealing with miscegenation. I looked at the French system of placage, where white men lived with and financially supported biracial or multiracial women and their children as a vehicle for social mobility. Using legal records and traveler's accounts from statehood to the Civil War, I highlighted the importance of multiracial dances that were integral to the placage system.
  • Victoria Pendleton, "United at the Rock: The 1969 Native American Occupation of Alcatraz." Advisor: Daniel Margolies
  • Kimberly Stinedurf, "The Political and Religious Consciousness of Quaker Women in Philadelphia during the American Revolution." Advisor: Richard Bond
    • Abstract: A project designed to recover the story of the families of nineteen Quaker exiles who were driven from Philadelphia due to their political loyalties during the American Revolution and were forced to settle in Virginia. It explores the story of the Quakers' wives, who remained in Philadelphia and became increasingly politically active in an attempt to hold onto their property while struggling to bring their husbands home.

2005 - 06 Theses

  • William Baynard, "El Caudillo: Images of Pancho Villa." Advisor: Susannah Walker
  • Benjamin Duff, "The Free German Youth: Constructed Identity." Advisor: Sara Sewell
    • Abstract: Based on my previous experiences in Germany, I chose to do my thesis on the Free German Youth organization that existed in East Germany. I discovered that the members of the FDJ played a pivotal role within East German society. On the one hand, the youth actively participated in the organization, fulfilling their role as the mouthpiece of the communist Social Unity Party (SED). On the other hand, the youth members increasingly showed signs of their own individuality within the organization, creating a very complex relationship within East German society. Trying to understand the complexities of identity issues within former East German society is not only useful to Europeanist historians, it also has major implications in US cultural developments.
  • Jessica Schoenheider, "A Reflection of Society: London Guilds During the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Centuries." Advisor: Clay Drees
    • Abstract: My senior thesis is about the guilds of London during the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, and how they were a reflection of London society. While conducting research, I learned much about guilds and the research process. I learned how guilds developed and were organized. I also learned about the various roles the guilds and their members performed within society.
  • Chris Stine, "The Monitor: Invention of War." Advisor: Daniel Margolies
    • Abstract: The Civil War battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac is the point in naval warfare where wooden ships became totally obsolete and steel became the favorite in naval technology. This project examines the different naval technologies that came about because of the Civil War. Steel hulled ships changed how every navy in the world operated and made most other navies in the world obsolete.
  • Laura Straley, "The Woman Air Force Service Pilots (WASPS): Changing Gender Roles in the World War II Workforce." Advisor: Susannah Walker
    • Abstract: Just as WWI created new jobs for women, so did WWII. Therefore, it is important to note how the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs) reflected these changes. The WASPs challenged gender hierarchy and traditional gender roles by entering the Army Air Force (AAF), in which they competed for aeronautical jobs with AAF men, even though they still accepted their service as temporary. Thus, the WASPs reflected pre-feminist attitudes concerning their roles as women pilots during WWII. Overall, I learned how the WASPs were able to challenge gender roles by entering the workforce of WWII, in which they contributed to the war effort, but also gained the mastery of flying numerous airplanes for the AAF, which enabled the women to accomplish the same aeronautical tasks as AAF men.
  • Robert Thompson, "No Mercy: World War Two Pacific Combat Shaped By Environment, Violence, and Racism." Advisor: Daniel Margolies
    • Abstract: My thesis is centered on the argument that Second World War Pacific island combat was heavily affected by environment, violence, and racism. Those three factors had a profound impact on the Marines who fought most of the land war against the Japanese. Thanks to this project, I have learned a great deal about the personal experiences of many Marines. It is from the personal experiences that I discovered my interest in the impact of war on the individual. This is a topic I wish to continue exploring while at graduate school.
  • Jessica Watson, "They Marched in Print: Print Media Depictions of Three Anti-Vietnam War Protests, 1965, 1967, and 1969." Advisor: Susannah Walker

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