History Department Offers Innovative New Student Fellowships

Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies Matthew Klingle, with student

A student chats with Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies Matthew Klingle, an expert in urban, environmental and 20th-century American studies.

The Bowdoin’s history department is offering a new summer fellowship program that is designed to support students pursuing a wide range of history projects.

The Alfred E. Golz fellowships, funded by Ronald Golz ’56 in memory of his father, will be awarded for the first time this spring to select history majors and minors. This fellowship joins the history department’s other major student research funds — the Nyhus travel grants and the Spector fellowship.

The Golz grant provides up to $3,000 per student and supports research and internships falling into several categories, furthering the studies of a large number of students with varied interests.

A student makes a point in Assistant Professor of History and Africana Students Brian Purnell's class

Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies Brian Purnell’s seminar. Purnell’s research areas include 20th-century, African-American and urban studies.

One category of Golz grants will support faculty-student collaborations during the summer. “Compared to the sciences and social sciences, faculty-student research collaborations are uncommon in our discipline,” said Allen Wells, Bowdoin’s Roger Howell, Jr. Professor of History. “This might, for instance, involve work on campus or it could mean traveling to archival collections to collect, review and assess documents.”

A second category of grants will fund students who want to work with technologies such as digital media or mapping programs. “The idea behind this fellowship is to encourage students to design research projects which they are passionate about and which employ these innovative technologies,” Wells said. “We expect that some of these summer projects may lay the foundation for future independent work or honors theses.”

Associate Professor of History Patrick Rael, who specializes in African-American history, regularly incorporates digital methods, such as GIS mapping, into his research.  With help from students, for example, he’s created maps exploring critical historical problems, such as “the sources of Republic Party support in the Presidential election cycle that placed Abraham Lincoln in the White House, or the social makeup of free communities of African descent in the slave South,” he explained. Rael has also worked with students to create the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain digital archive.

The third type of Golz grant will be given to students who accept internships with off-campus organizations, such as government agencies, libraries and businesses. Here it is important that the students show that, as interns, they will apply the skills, methods and content they have learned in their Bowdoin history courses. These tasks could be to develop collections by cataloguing items, to act as docents or tour guides, or to work  as instructors for educational programs. “What is unusual about this one is that it’s portable,” Wells explained. “Students find an archive, museum, living-history site or nonprofit they want to work for.”

Although the fellowship would fund internships nationwide, the department is highlighting Maine organizations, such as local historical societies, the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath and the Maine Humanities Council in Portland, as possible internship sites.

The deadline for all Golz fellowship applicants is March 31.

Dallas Dennery class

Associate Professor of History Dallas Denery, a scholar of medieval and early modern religious and intellectual history, in class

Golz originally established his endowed fund in the early 1970s to help the history department bring prominent historians to campus to give talks. As the fund grew over the years, the department began to think about other ways they could use the money to benefit students. Wells said the department is grateful for Golz’s generosity over the years. “We have benefited enormously from the Golz Lecture Series, and we are excited about how these new summer fellowships will not only enrich the experience for students during their undergraduate career, but will better prepare them for the future.”

Wells said he and his colleagues want to provide their majors and minors with ways of gaining experience outside of the classroom. “It’s important for students to have opportunities like these,” he noted. “Having these skill sets and work experiences should help them get a better start when they’re applying to graduate schools or looking for jobs.”

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