Special Collections Awards FY23 Research Grants to Four Scholars

LSU Libraries selected four scholars to receive research grants during the 2022-2023 academic year for their projects using materials in Special Collections’ holdings. Three travel grants cover funds for travel, lodging, and other types of support associated with a research trip to Hill Memorial Library. This year, the Libraries also awarded one support grant to provide digitization funds toward scanning collections and making them available on the Louisiana Digital Library. We look forward to working with the following awardees:

Travel Grant Awardees:

Jared Asser

Jared Asser is a PhD student in history at the University of Georgia. His research uses the conceptual tools of emotions history to re-interpret the Reconstruction period. Believing that emotions are both culturally conditioned and central to politics, his research focuses on moments of political crisis and how emotion influenced the outcome of those crises. This interest includes the state-level problems that shaped the period, but also the quotidian issues influencing the lives of ordinary people. For instance, how dealing with horse theft may have become a political issue, affecting how small communities experienced Reconstruction. With one of the longest-lasting Reconstruction governments, the state of Louisiana is uniquely suited to this research.

Michelle Donnelly

Michelle Donnelly, PhD candidate in the history of art at Yale University, will conduct research for her dissertation, “Spatialized Impressions: American Printmaking Outside the Workshop, 1935–1975.” Her project examines how women artists and artists of color expanded the technical and material parameters of printmaking in five alternative sites: the home, the studio, the outdoor environment, the internment camp, and the science lab. At LSU, she will consult sources that are crucial to her chapter on LSU Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts Caroline Durieux. In the 1950s, Durieux developed “electron printing” with Harry Wheeler, an LSU professor of botany, and a student assistant, Naomi Wheeler, in the LSU laboratories. Donnelly will investigate how Durieux harnessed atomic science for artistic creation as well as how her works materialized corporeal vulnerability in the thermonuclear age.

Samuel NiuSamuel Niu is a PhD student in the history department at Columbia University, where he studies immigration, race, and labor in the 19th century in the U.S. and Atlantic World. He will conduct research for his dissertation, which examines Chinese plantation labor in the post-emancipation U.S. South. Of particular interest to Niu is how labor brokers, planters, and the immigrants themselves tied together the U.S. South and West, the Caribbean, and China, and what the history of Chinese labor can tell us about the shifting meanings of freedom in this thoroughly transnational post-emancipation moment. Using LSU’s extensive collection of plantation records, Niu aims to explore these questions of immigration, freedom, and labor and to tell the history of the Chinese immigrants’ lives and experiences.

Digitization Support Grant Awardee:

David Thomson

David Thomson, associate professor of history at Sacred Heart University, will use his special collections research grant towards his new project on the political power of state debt in the Antebellum period. Drawing on several states, including Louisiana and Mississippi, Thomson wants to reconstruct the role of U.S. state debt growth and defaults. After massive outlays of state debt, eight states and one future state of Florida repudiated their debts in the Antebellum period while another five states barely avoided repudiation. Such actions had wide-ranging implications across the Atlantic owing to the deep ties of European financiers to this state debt. This project will help to demonstrate a greater integration of global capital markets and the larger implications (political, social, and otherwise) of debt from the state to the federal level in 19th century America.

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