Samples of Dissertations
"American Portraits in Spitalfields Silk: Fashioning Eighteenth-Century Identity through Atlantic World Visual and Material Culture"
The Women of Western Electric: Reconsidering Gender Discrimination, Civil Rights, and the Meaning of Equity in Post-1960s America
Creating New Gods: Christianity Among the Cherokee, 1776-1838"
"William I, the Liberal Press and the Foreign Relations of the Netherlands, 1814-1818"
Evelyn D. Causey
"The Character of a Gentleman: Deportment, Piety, and Morality in Southern Colleges and Universities, 1820-1860"
Elise Madeleine Ciregna
"Sculpting for the Ages: Artisans and Artists in the Early American Republic"
"Crossing Boundaries: The Impact of Black Saint Dominguan Refugees on Free African-American Communities in the United States, 1790-1850"
"'To All the Great Interests': Political Economy and the Road to a 'Monroe Doctrine,' 1783-1823"
"A Church in Crisis? Paradoxes in the Rise of American Methodism, 1777-1835"
James C. Godwin II
"They Were Diplomats, Too: The Contributions of Percy Moreton Scott, His Britannic Majesty's Royal Navy, and William Sowden Sims, United States Navy, to the Great Anglo-American Rapprochement, 1888-1918"
"Paddy in Blue: Irishmen, Irish Americans, and Service in the Union Armies, 1861-1865"
"Quilts from Home"
"In Pursuit of Profit: Persistent Dutch Influence in Trade of New York and the Lesser Antilles, 1621-1689"
"Fire and Ice: The Stove and the Refrigerator as Influences on American Foodways and American Culture"
Alan D. Meyer
"Why Fly? A Social and Cultural History of Private Aviation in Post-WWII America"
Michelle M. Mormul
"Philadelphia's Linen Merchants, 1760 to 1815"
"Altho' the Seas Divide:' Perceptions of a Trans-Atlantic Landscape Among Americans in Britain, 1760-1810"
"The Liberal Catholic Role in a Science-Religion Culture
War: The Case of Evolution and Birth Control in America, 1899-1940"
"Catholic Women's Benevolence and Social Change: Baltimore and Philadelphia, 1790-1890"
"Insuring Slaves: Risk, Slavery, and the Life Insurance Business in the United States, 1830-1890"
Christine E. Sears
"A Different Kind of Slavery: American Captives in Barbary, 1776-1830"
Ryan K. Thompson
"From Ornamental to Most Useful," Educational Change Among Philadelphia's
Middling Classes: 1760-1830
Zara Anishanslin Bernhardt
In 1746, a man from Newport, Rhode Island painted the portrait of a Philadelphia woman wearing a dress of Spitalfields silk. On the surface, this portrait captures the likeness of a wealthy colonial North American matron. This portrait is a narrative as well as a likeness, however, and its visual codes tell a complex cultural story that goes far beyond the tale of one woman's life. This portrait, its dress, and the people involved in their creation, tell a cultural history of how Atlantic World visual and material culture reflected and shaped American identity in the eighteenth-century. In the portrait painted by New Englander Robert Feke (1707-1752), Anne Shippen Willing (1710-1791), wife of Philadelphia merchant and mayor Charles Willing (1710-1754), wears a dress made of silk damask produced in Spitalfields, London. Famed silk designer Anna Maria Garthwaite (1689/90-1763) drew the pattern for this silk in 1743, and Huguenot master weaver Simon Julins (1687-1774) wove the pattern into silk in 1744. The silk made its way to America in time for Feke to paint it in 1746. Each chapter takes one of these key individuals as the departure point for discussing an eighteenth-century, visually expressed, American identity grounded in Atlantic World material culture exchange. I focus on these individuals who, as they created and used material culture, also fashioned and displayed identities. I examine identity as a personal, political, cultural, and aesthetic reality of colonial, revolutionary, and early republican life. My timeframe is the lifespan of the key people involved in creating this portrait, the 1680s to the 1790s, with primary focus is on their productive adulthood, the 1730s to the 1790s. Although this is a dissertation about how Americans used visual and material culture to fashion identity, my geographic focus, of necessity, is the wider space of the Atlantic World. Since I focus primarily on the spaces in which Willing, Garthwaite, Julins, and Feke lived and worked, this geography ranges from Pennsylvania to London, and from New England to the Caribbean. My dissertation also looks at the transatlantic visual and material culture that tied together these inhabitants of a global world. This includes spaces, the cities, neighborhoods and houses, in which these people lived and worked; art and decorative arts, the objects that defined and celebrated their lives, notably the portraits they commissioned; and clothing, primarily the silk they designed, wove, transported, sewed, wore, and painted. In particular, I focus on the one object type around which these people's lives intersected: the Spitalfields silk Willing wears in her portrait. I use Spitalfields silk and its associated meanings - both functional and symbolic - to examine the role metropolitan luxury and Anglo-French rivalry played in fashioning eighteenth-century American identity. My dissertation explores the resonance of Atlantic World visual and material culture in America: a cultural resonance forever captured in Robert Feke's portrait of Anne Shippen Willing.
My dissertation, entitled "The Women of Western Electric: Reconsidering Gender Discrimination, Civil Rights, and the Meaning of Equity in Post-1960s America," explores Kyriazi vs. Western Electric (1973-1981), one of the rare Title VII cases of the post-1964-Civil-Rights-Act-era to successfully win a gender discrimination indictment against an employer for women as class. The debates surrounding this class-action suit reveal the many ways in which working women, attorneys, and social justice communities advanced the mantle of civil rights, affirmative action, post-1960s liberalism, and a heightened conversation about gender and work, in ways that were often less about political equality, than they were about social and economic equity. By unearthing this seminal and, until now, largely unexplored case, this dissertation raises important questions about why the gains made in suits like Kyriazi vs. Western Electric failed to generate significant trends towards greater gender equality in the American workplace. By the mid-1970s, legal strategies and public policies were already outmoded to the realities of women's lives, a changing American economy, and the rise of Neoliberal politics. By the 1980s, the most portable politics of the sex-discrimination-as-civil-rights wave of cases was sexual harassment--a politics of the body that embodied both a victory for feminist advocates and an unwitting result of the economic equity working-class activists had fought for.
My experience in the University of Delaware Doctoral Program in American History and the History of Technology and Industrialization has been integral to my work and professional development. The graduate students and faculty within the department offer an engaging and congenial intellectual milieu, while the seminars, workshops, and activities hosted by the department and at nearby institutions, such as the Hagley Museum and Library, the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and the various Rutgers campuses in New Jersey, allow one to keep abreast of current scholarly topics, while also affording an opportunity to meet and network with other historians. The accessibility of archival repositories in the Mid-Atlantic region is hard to top. My own dissertation work takes me to New York University and the Newark, NJ region, all of which can be reached in a one to two hour car ride or by train. Washington, DC, and the National Archives are equally accessible in the opposite direction, with a multitude of state historical societies and archives in between. Various historical conferences are always happening within the region, offering students opportunities to familiarize themselves with these professional activities and to give papers. My own work has been advanced greatly through the conflux of interdisciplinary activity that happens at the University of Delaware and within the regional academic community, allowing me to draw on history, social science, technology and business, and a strong women's studies dynamic.
This dissertation explores the various ways that the southeastern Cherokee interpreted and experienced Christianity in the early 19th century. Knowledge of Christian traditions first spread among the Cherokee when Protestant missionaries preached among them after the American Revolution. By the 1820s several denominations had erected their own mission schools and established regular Sabbath meetings. In the hearts and practices of hundreds of Cherokee faithful, Christian ideas began to commingle with Cherokee customs. I seek to understand how these Cherokee converts conceived of Christianity in the context of their native traditions; what aspects of Christianity appealed to these Cherokee; which Christian customs they rejected, and why. Most Christian inspired Cherokee did not discard their sense of Cherokee spirituality as they adopted new religious practices. I seek to uncover which of their own traditions they maintained along with their Christian beliefs. My dissertation also pays close attention to how Christianity influenced Cherokee social relations, created new loyalties among kin and clan members, and altered concepts of gender.
After the final defeat of Napoleon, the victorious European allies established the United Kingdom of the Netherlands to act as a military buffer along France's northeastern border. The new kingdom's territory consisted primarily of the old Dutch Republic, the Austrian Netherlands and Luxembourg. William VI of Orange-Nassau, the son of the last Dutch statdholder, returned from exile to rule the new kingdom as King William I. His task was neither easy nor grateful. The Dutch Republic and Austrian Netherlands had diverged since their separation two centuries earlier during the Reformation, and William was faced with trying to reconcile his subjects' differing politics, economics, language, and religion. To make matters worse, he ran afoul of the great powers when groups of French exiles and emigres resident in the kingdom began to publish attacks on various European governments. Alarmed that their buffer was itself becoming a center of revolutionary agitation--and hence a threat to the newly won peace--the allies demanded that William act to suppress the emigre press. William refused, citing his kingdom's constitution, which guaranteed freedom of the press and equal protection of the law to foreigners. Allied governments pointed to the United Kingdom's international duty as a bulwark against revolution, and threatened the severest of consequences if William did not yield to their demands, yet William resisted, maintaining that his kingdom's function as a military buffer did not mean that it also had to act as a barrier against progressive thought.
The conflict, which lasted into 1818, produced paradoxical effects for the domestic and foreign politics of the Netherlands. William, often described as a liberal with the temperament of an autocrat, found a defense against foreign interference in a constitution that limited his power. Perhaps the conflict convinced the king that his constitution was too tolerant of political dissent. Furthermore, by considering legislation that bore directly on the conflict, the parliament found itself with a voice on foreign relations, even though formally it had none.
My professors have been generous with their time and patience. It is to their credit that though none are specialists in the history of the Low Countries, their advice and direction have been invaluable to me. During the 1999-2000 academic year, I will be in The Netherlands and Belgium on a Fulbright grant to conduct research for my dissertation.
By studying colleges and universities in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, my dissertation explores how republicanism, gentility, honor, and evangelicalism shaped planter- and middle-class mens understandings of what it meant to be a gentleman. Students, parents, and professors prized education, republican virtue, and self-control as characteristic traits of gentlemen and natural aristocrats. While at college, young men cultivated these traits and learned how to display them through their manners and appearance. College authorities, parents, and orators especially those from evangelical backgrounds argued that Christian piety also played a key role in forming a young mans reputation as a gentleman. But even though evangelicalism became increasingly common at southern colleges and universities, only gross irreverence actually seemed to detract from students reputations. Moral rhetoric within colleges and universities indicates that excessive drinking, gambling, and violence were inconsistent with the character of a gentleman, yet college students enjoyed a persistent reputation for rowdiness and dissipation. This contradiction between rhetoric and behavior derived not from hypocrisy or from a simple adherence to the code of honor, but from students sometimes unsuccessful efforts to suit their behavior to the situation at hand.
My dissertation considers the experiences of black Saint Dominguan refugees to the United States in the 1790s and early 1800s, analyzing interactions between black Saint Dominguans and black Philadelphians and focusing on the social implications of Saint Dominguan emigration. Class differences among enslaved blacks and free people of color of colonial Saint Domingue affected refugee life in the United States. These social tensions reflected similar patterns within African-American communities, such as in Philadelphia, and shaped the nature of assimilation into those communities. Even though enslaved Saint Dominguans gained freedom of a sort in Philadelphia, due to Pennsylvania's gradual emancipation legislation, their indentured status meant that many remained poor, as well as tied to their former masters. By contrast, wealthier black Saint Dominguans moved into the upper ranks of African-American society, often marrying into elite black families. This suggests that any divisions existing among black Saint Dominguans and African Americans were not rooted solely in cultural distinctions of language and religion, as has been previously suggested by the historiography. Whether rich or poor, however, social or cultural differences among black Saint Dominguans and African Americans were diminished by white Philadelphia's racist social structures, and by racial antipathies held by white Americans. Despite their relatively small numbers, the story of black Saint Dominguans in the United States is historically relevant. Their struggles to gain footing in African-American communities tell us much about the nature of race and class in the early republic, and provide insight on the African-American experience during that period.
I propose to offer a sort of longue duree of the public's discussions about political economy from the time after the 1783 Treaty of Paris, through 1823, when James Monroe's message to Congress, made famous by misinterpretation, attempted to stem a swelling tide of self-interest and divisive policy interests that many feared were corrosive of the nation's stated goals for development. My dissertation explores the political economies of four generally recognized regions of the early republic in comparative perspective, focusing on the discourses about political economy in four cities - one in each region - between 1783 and 1823: New Haven, Connecticut in New England; Wilmington, Delaware in the Mid-Atlantic; Savannah, Georgia in the South; and Cincinnati, Ohio in the West. My plan is to follow, as much as possible, a similar methodological approach for each town by organizing lines of inquiry around the issues concerning political economy at national and local levels.
I have focused initially on Wilmington, Delaware as it is the most accessible locale and has allowed me to continue my teaching responsibilities while also testing my research model. My researches have been concentrated at the Delaware Historical Society-where Connie Cooper has provided much insight and assistance, the microforms collections at the University of Delaware's Morris Library, the Delaware Public Archives in Dover, and the Rare Pamphlets Collection at the Hagley Museum and Library. In nearby Philadelphia, the Library Company of Philadelphia's extensive collections of early American imprints have also been very helpful. Throughout the months of concentrated local research, I have received invaluable assistance and guidance from my advisor Cathy Matson, and Carol Hoffecker and Bruce Bendler have been kind enough to share research notes with me that have greatly aided my progress. Peter Kolchin has also taken time to offer thoughtful responses to the many ideas and questions about the post-1815 era which I regularly seem to approach him with. Having wrapped up much of my local research, I have begun researches on New Haven at Yale University's Sterling Library and at the New Haven Colony Historical Society, as well as in the microforms collections here at Morris Library. I hope to move on to Cincinnati this Fall, and alas- Savannah in the Winter!
James C. Godwin II
The dissertation seeks to examine the careers of two of the most important naval figures of the Great Rapprochement. Although both officers have been the subject of biographies, that on William Sims is over 50 years old and Peter Padfield's study of Percy Scott was published some 35 years ago. Furthermore, this study is an endeavor to emphasize the diplomatic nature of their roles and interactions, for until 1914 Anglo-American naval officers served their nations in the capacity of authorized representatives who often negotiated treaties and other agreements with sovereign states. The dissertation has drawn on the George Handy Bates Samoan Papers at the University's Morris Library. Primary source materials for this work are located in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Department of State Archives, the National Archives, and the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C.; the Chester Nimitz Library, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland; the Naval War College Library, Newport, Rhode Island; Brown University Library, Providence, Rhode Island; and the Vermont Historical Society, Montpelier, Vermont, for all of which the University of Delaware is centrally located. British materials include Admiralty Records, Colonial Office Records, and Foreign Office Records, all in the Public Records Office, London, and some papers in the British Museum, London.
Employing prevailing theories, methods, and interpretive strategies originating within material culture studies, American social and economic history, and anthropology, "Quilts From Home" explores the emergence, development, and multiple functions and meanings associated with quilts, quiltmaking, and quilt ownership among farm families in the rural Cocalico Valley of central Pennsylvania's Lancaster County in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. This dissertation seeks to identify relationships between quiltmaking and the broader social, economic, and conceptual eighteenth and nineteenth century contexts within which this phenomenon occurred in American households. Taking a case-study approach, this dissertation will focus on the interlocking kinship, religious, economic, and social communities of women and men of German and English ancestry living and working in the Cocalico Valley of north central Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Utilizing material and documentary sources, this dissertation will interweave data derived from artifact analysis with data and insights gleaned from analysis of probate inventories, tax and census records, letters, diaries, and other written accounts to address the questions driving this study. These fundamental questions are: 1) What were the cultural processes leading to the emergence of quiltmaking among rural Lancaster County women of Germanic and Anglo-Saxon descent in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries? and, 2) What were the meanings and functions of quilts and quiltmaking at the levels of individuals, families, and communities in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and how did these meanings and functions change over time?
This project is driven by an interpretive understanding of artifacts as expressive social behaviors bound by and simultaneously communicating cultural values, principles, beliefs, and ideals shared by members of their authoring group. As such, this dissertation treats artifacts as texts embodying information vital to an inclusive historical investigation. Although artifacts and their analyses are critical to this project's objectives, it is difficult if not impossible to infer beliefs, values, and meanings from physical artifacts alone. Therefore, information embodied in documented quilted artifacts will be interwoven with insights gained from analysis of primary manuscript sources more familiar to social historians. This methodology permits reconstitution of the social, economic, and affective worlds inhabited by individual quiltmakers, their families, and their communities, permitting a view of the culturally coherent conceptual contexts within which quilts were made, used, saved, and passed along from generation to generation. The study will conceptually reintegrate quilts within the systematically reconstructed contexts of their greatest significance--that of their makers and owner's lives--then sets these spheres of meaning within the contexts of family, and ultimately, community. This approach is expected lead to a "thick description" of quiltmaking in the Cocalico Valley of Lancaster County, leading to a holistic interpretation of the functions and meanings quilts held within their contexts of production, ownership, and use. Moving beyond the Cocalico Valley's geographical and psychological boundaries, this dissertation also study household quiltmaking within broader historical theaters, such as emerging capitalist industrialization, the shift from a producer to a consumer economy, the development of the nineteenth-century "cult of domesticity," and the emergence of a self-conscious middle-class.
"Quilts from Home" will contribute to the ongoing dialogue among historians who measure the timing and character of the "capitalist transformation" in the American countryside. Unlike previous studies that focused on the impact of the industrial revolution on wageworking women's lives, primarily those engaged as outwork laborers and mill operatives, this study will explore the impact of the industrial revolution and its products on the lives of rural women and men working not for wages, but as producers laboring within the family farm economy. This dissertation will also examine quiltmaking within the larger context of American economic and industrial development, by probing the relationships between households, markets, and quiltmaking, and by considering the nature of the reciprocal relationship linking quiltmaking to the retail and marketing activities of the American textile industry in the nineteenth century. Finally, by reconstituting the meanings quilts held for their original communities of production and retention, this study will also provide insight into the reasons quilts remain deeply affective and compelling artifacts in American society today.
In the last half-century scholars have endeavored to explain how trans-Atlantic commerce developed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They have detailed the settlement of the New World, charted the expansion of trade, described the production and export of tropical commodities, and demonstrated merchants’ roles in building mighty empires with rapidly developing colonies. However, historians’ focus on the development of separate, competing empires over many generations has caused them to overlook the crucial part played by the transmission of culture, goods, and entrepreneurial activities across the boundaries of empires. My dissertation uses a comparative perspective to consider the importance of this inter-imperial exchange in two particular places in the Western Hemisphere during the seventeenth century: the city of New Amsterdam/New York and the port cities of the Lesser Antilles. In these important trading centers, migrants and sojourners from England and the Netherlands blended their influences to create a distinctive commercial culture. Yet each location retained particular local characteristics that forced Old World settlers and governments to adapt their expectations for power and prosperity.
Since my dissertation requires intensive reading in an eclectic variety of sources (including government documents, court records, customs records, official and private correspondence, inventories, ship manifests, and merchants’ account books) in order to illuminate broad comparisons ready access to a variety of library collections is important. Fortunately, the University of Delaware offers that proximity. Not only is it a short train or car trip to the multitude of collections in Philadelphia, but the libraries at the Hagley Museum and the Winterthur museum are close by. Moreover, alongside the growing interest in the Atlantic World (lead by my advisor Cathy Matson) here at the University, there is an active early American community in Philadelphia.
This dissertation "Fire and Ice: The Stove and the Refrigerator as Influences on American Foodways and American Culture," deals with changes in the technology of cooking and the relationship between those changes and broader social issues. It will examine the use of advertising in effecting the infusion of technology into the kitchen, the reaction of homemakers to the new appliances, and the relationship of those changes within the context of other historical events. It draws upon a wealth of material culture sources including artifacts, diaries, oral histories, trade catalogues, and patents.
This work has been immeasurably enriched by the resources available through Hagley Museum and Library, Winterthur Museum, Library, and Gardens, and Special Collections at Morris Library. Hagley has a vast collection of trade catalogues, manuals, and handbooks relevant to my work. More importantly, Hagley has patent models of early prototypes, and enthusiastic staff eager to hear of my latest treasure. Winterthur has additional trade catalogues and an extensive collection of cookery books and domestic advice manuals. The Manuscripts Department houses records from foundries and furnaces producing stove plate, diaries and day books from general stores and blacksmiths show sold, repaired, and installed stoves. Most importantly, Historic Houses of Odessa, a Winterthur property, conducts a hearth cooking demonstration staffed by knowledgeable and eager hearth cookery experts who have generously shared their experiences. The Special Collections Department of Morris Library houses another fine collection of cookery books, as well as trade catalogues and diaries. In support of the patent collection at Morris, the patent librarian helped me find my way through the tangles of patent research. Finally, the staff at the Interlibrary Loan office has been extraordinarily helpful in tracking down obscure journals and books. These resources, all so near, have enriched my work and my life.
Alan D. Meyer
My dissertation explores the lived experience of private pilots from the mid-1940s through the early 1980s. At the end of WWII, enthusiasts predicted that airplanes would soon become the "cars of the air," but this dream never became a reality. Those few who did take up private flying gave various reasons: to "escape" from everyday concerns, to enhance their non-flying careers or images, or because flying provided a sense of accomplishment lacking in their white-collar jobs. Using archival sources, contemporary periodicals, articles, photographs, and oral histories as evidence, I argue that these reflected broader social and cultural factors including class, gender, and technological enthusiasm. I also contend that the very qualities that made airplanes different from automobiles--complexity, impracticality, their association with risk--were part of what made flying attractive those who became pilots during this period.
This project grew out of a paper I wrote for a research and writing seminar during my first year here at the University of Delaware. The paper, a case study on a program that taught the wives of private pilots to take over the controls in case of an emergency, illustrated how gender norms and power relationships can be used to control access to technology. I relied heavily on the archives of the Aircraft Owner‚s and Pilots Association (AOPA) housed nearby at the Hagley Museum and Library, and continue to draw from this source in my dissertation research.
Michelle M. Mormul
From the closing stages of the British colonial era to the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Philadelphia merchants experienced some of the darkest trading days, an era of tumultuous revolutions, wars, and heightened commercial competition, and also some of the best commercial opportunities that political independence from England could offer. Within the broader trade connections of the Atlantic world, my work tracks the importation of linen textiles alongside the exportation of flaxseed, one of Philadelphia's most important exports to Ireland by the 1750s, and pot ash and pearl ash in a cycle of trade across the north Atlantic. This is also a story about re-exports as most linen imported into America was first imported into England from Ireland and continental Europe, re-exported to Philadelphia, and then merchants here re-exported linens to the hinterland and coasting trade. I show that both British imperial aspirations and American patriotic manufacturing rhetoric could not dismiss the reality that the United States consistently imported more British textiles than before the Revolution, a higher import than any other commodity. I explore the cooperative relationships between importing linen merchants, the retail trade in urban and rural areas, and the export of essential raw materials to the fabrication process. The dissertation chronologically charts how Philadelphia merchants transferred goods from the producer to the consumer, what was available in the midst of political tumult and what was desired, their systems of credit and accounting, the internal organization of their partnerships, the development of marketing techniques for the fairly stable priced linen, and their methods of transportation and distribution of Irish, English, and northern European linens. It shows important trends of material improvements for middling and elite customers from the colonial era to the beginning of the nineteenth century. My dissertation bridges the gap between studies related to the techniques of textile production and a separate scholarship on textile use, between writings on manufacturing and consumption, and showing how common people's textiles were distributed. This dissertation challenges the centrality of trade that was conducted with the West Indies flour and sugar relationships and pushes the gaze towards the north-Atlantic traders' ties and argues that within an interwoven web across the Atlantic with new trading patterns Americans could start to substitute the traditional markets for their fabric with both their own cloth and its eventual replacement, cotton, from new places.
Wealthy and fashionable Americans were frequent members of the cosmopolitan crowd touring Britain in the second half of the eighteenth century, even during the volatile years following the Revolutionary War. By examining the experiences of Americans abroad, as recorded in contemporary travel accounts, this study seeks to explore the role of this travel in constructing or confirming the traveler's membership in a trans-Atlantic or international elite. In an era in which the British landscape underwent striking change in both its physical appearance and political and social significance, American travelers' responses to this landscape hold particular value for the exploration of a coherent mental and social landscape among Anglo-American elites.
The University of Delaware's Morris Library and other regional repositories offer a wealth of resources for the study of this topic. In addition to Morris Library's exceptional collection of secondary sources on British history, the Goldsmiths'-Kress Library of Economic Literature, including numerous eighteenth-century British travel guides, is available on microfilm. Several American manuscript travel journals are also available at Morris Library in the microfilm edition of the Records of Antebellum Southern Plantations, while the nearby archives of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the American Philosophical Society, the Quaker Collection of Haverford College, and the Winterthur Library preserve a crucial body of relevant travel accounts. The collections of Winterthur Museum and Library also offer an extensive range of eighteenth-century published treatises on British travel, landscape design and aesthetics, as well as an outstanding collection of contemporary British topographical prints.
Liberal Catholic intellectuals used the media from 1900-1940 to garner new public exposure for Catholicism, but, in so doing, they ironically helped along a trend of cultural secularization by presenting increasingly watered-down versions of Catholic teaching. This was particularly the case when key intellectuals participated in mainstream debates over evolution and birth control by acquiescing to the strictures of inductive scientific argumentation dictated by mainstream secular intellectuals. By arguing only within these terms, they unintentionally helped de-legitimize theologically or biblically-based argumentation in the public sphere from that point on. After spending the first quarter of the twentieth century fairly segregated from the intellectual mainstream (but being influenced by the lingering forces of the Modernist and Progressive movements), the Catholic voice which eventually appeared in the mainstream media could not offer a coherent alternative to the increasingly popular materialist philosophical worldviews being presented as an inevitable outgrowth of evolutionary science, or to arguments favoring birth control by any means science or technology made available.
My dissertation will analyze the role of Catholic women in benevolent activities, the process of assimilation and adaptation of German and Irish women and their families, and social change in Baltimore and Philadelphia from 1790 to 1890, a time when Catholic parishes grew rapidly with the influx of immigrants. It will discuss the activities of laywomen in Catholic parishes, relationships between nuns and laywomen, and the interrelationships among religion, the family, ethnicity, race, class, and gender. Although the constraints upon women and their activities in the Catholic church and in nineteenth-century society will be recognized, I am interested in exploring how women negotiated and contested such restrictions. In addition to rethinking domesticity, and relating gender to social mobility and religion, I am also considering the role of women in how Catholics understood refinement, gentility, and bourgeois respectability, and whether nineteenth-century Catholics and Protestants understood these concepts differently. I will combine social history and cultural analysis in the dissertation.
Graduate seminars at the University of Delaware have provided an excellent foundation for the dissertation. Although I am not affiliated with the Winterthur or Hagley programs, proximity to them has encouraged me to consider the industrial and material context of the communities I will study. With our university's central location, archival sources such as the archives of the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Philadelphia are readily accessible. My dissertation director, Anne Boylan, committee members, Christine Heyrman and Tamara Hareven, provide valuable comments and suggestions for my research.
The life insurance industry in the United States, in its infancy in the early nineteenth century, experienced an explosion of growth in the late antebellum decades. While most of this growth occurred in the industrializing northeast, nearly all of the demand for life insurance in the South came from individuals desiring to insure the lives of slaves. The dissertation explores the significance of slave life insurance for both the system of slavery and the life insurance business. It examines how perceptions of risk and risk-taking behavior, with respect to financial loss due to untimely death, were affected by slavery. Through a study of southern life insurance agents and their relationships with planters, slave traders, industrial entrepreneurs, medical examiners, slaves, and life insurance company personnel, I try to explore the connections linking the business of insuring slaves with the racism that characterized the life insurance industry in the late nineteenth century.
Christine E. Sears
Roughly seven hundred Americans were held in North African bondage between 1776 and the 1830 occupation of Algiers, and my dissertation will look at their experiences while in captivity in order to understand the context and effects of their captivity. The experiences of American captives varied greatly, depending on how one was captured, by whom one was owned, how long one's captivity lasted, as well as one's class, race, and, sometimes, pure luck. I will be looking at these variations, as well as the processes through which Americans were released from their bondage, and with what frequency this occurred. Also, I explore how American captives were used, how they interacted with each other and with other slaves, and how they interacted with local inhabitants. My work will provide a broader, comparative context for American captivity in Barbary, and will thus sharpen our understanding of North African enslavement of Westerners during this period.
Most of my research has been local: University of Delaware's Morris Library has a wide-ranging microforms collection that has been instrumental; the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and Library Company of Philadelphia are both fantastic research sites; and I have visited the Library of Congress and New-York Public Library. I foresee a research trip to the Huntington Library in California, and perhaps to the Centres des Archives d'Outre-Mer in Aix-en-Provence. Peter Kolchin's thoughtful and challenging guidance is instrumental to my work, particularly in areas of slavery and comparative history. Cathy Matson, Owen White, and Rudi Matthee have also provided essential insights and suggestions.
Ryan K. Thompson
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, education proved to be a powerful tool in helping Americans deal with the tremendous economic and political changes of their era. Those political and economic changes were not experienced evenly across the nation, but were felt earliest and most forcefully in growing urban centers like Philadelphia. My dissertation focuses on how Philadelphians altered educational practices during this transformational period and as a result, helped set important patterns for later developments in education. There are several goals that I hope to achieve with this study of education. First, I hope to reconnect two important eras of educational scholarship, the late colonial and the antebellum period, by emphasizing the important developments that took place during the period between them. Second, I hope to tell a more inclusive story about the changes occurring in education. On the one hand, I will include the colonial views and plans of prominent leaders and educators like Robert Proud, Anthony Benezet, William Smith, and Benjamin Franklin and compare them with those offered by Benjamin Rush, Stephen Girard, Roberts Vaux, Noah Webster, Robert Coram, Samuel Harrison Smith, and Samuel Knox after the Revolutionary War. To complement their views, I will include those of the young students being taught in the schools and participating in the various societies and organizations. Putting the views of both groups into the larger ideological, political, and economic context will add yet another layer of important interpretation and allow me to address other important historical issues beyond education. Finally, I intend to examine the ways in which the changes in the economy and political ideology helped transform education following the American Revolution. While pursuing these three goals may fall a bit short of Bernard Bailyn's call to historians to redefine education to include "the entire process by which a culture transmits itself across the generations," I believe it will provide more than enough material to cover within the scope of this dissertation.