October 30, 2020

Poska Earns Grant from the Social Science Research Council

Professor of History Allyson Poska

Professor of History Allyson Poska

Professor of History Allyson Poska earned a COVID-19 Rapid-Response Grant from the Social Science Research Council, in partnership with the Henry Luce Foundation and with the support of the Wenner-Gren, Ford, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, and William and Flora Hewlett Foundations. These highly competitive grants went to 62 recipients – out of 1,300 internationally who applied – for projects from across the social sciences and related fields that address the social, economic, cultural, psychological, and political impact of COVID-19 in the United States and globally, as well as responses to the pandemic’s wide-ranging effects. Dr. Poska’s paper was entitled, “Convincing the Masses: Global Public Health and Smallpox Vaccination in the Spanish Empire (1803-1810).” The grant money will mainly be used by Dr. Poska to acquire archival material in Peru, where she had planned to conduct research if the pandemic had not hit.

The abstract reads:

In 1803 Charles IV of Spain initiated a campaign against smallpox, opening vaccination rooms across the peninsula and sending the cowpox vaccine around the globe with the Royal Philanthropic Expedition. This global examination of Spain’s smallpox vaccination campaign analyzes the dynamic between the purveyors of the vaccine and the potential recipients. On both the peninsula and around the globe, the vaccination campaign engaged the diverse populations of the Spanish empire: men and women, rich and poor, Africans (both free and enslaved), Indigenous Americans, Filipinos, mixed-race peoples, and whites (both Spanish and American born). The campaign challenged deeply rooted race and gender hierarchies and asserted new claims to governmental authority. I intend to examine how each of these groups asserted their own expectations about bodily authority and governmental control as they accepted or rejected the vaccine. I have already conducted archival research in Spain and Mexico, but my plans to conduct research in Peru this summer were halted by Covid-19.  This project relates directly to the current Covid-19 as public health authorities grapple with the challenge of encouraging hundreds of millions of people of all races, classes, and cultures to submit to a novel vaccine for a novel virus. This research will result in a series of peer-reviewed articles and a book manuscript.

Harris Publishes Article on the Soviet Jet Age

Photomontage celebrating the Jet Age in the Soviet magazine, Grazhdanskaia aviatsiia, no. 12 (1963).

Associate Professor Steven E. Harris (HISA) recently published the following peer-reviewed article: “Dawn of the Soviet Jet Age: Aeroflot Passengers and Aviation Culture under Khrushchev,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 21, 3 (Summer 2020): 591-626.

In this article, Harris examines how representations of the ideal Soviet passenger became a central feature of aviation culture under Khrushchev and bolstered the state’s broader goals of advancing mass consumption, embracing the scientific-technical revolution, and fighting the Cold War. The research and writing for this article and the broader book project on which it is based were generously funded by an A. Verville Fellowship at the National Air & Space Museum and multiple grants from the University of Mary Washington, including a Waple Professorship. Many of the themes in Harris’s article are also featured in the exhibition, “Cold War Friendly Skies,” which is on display at the entrance to Simpson Library.

Bonds Mentioned in FLS Article on Rt. 1 Name Change

Associate Professor of Sociology Eric Bonds was mentioned in an article on the Fredericksburg City Council’s resolution to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway, a measure that was approved 6-1. The General Assembly will discuss the name change at a special session in August. History and American Studies Associate Professor Will Mackintosh has also been a driving force behind the current effort, Bonds said.

Bonds and two students in his political sociology class had asked City Council to make the change because of Davis’ role in the Civil War and the fact that he’d owned more than 100 slaves during his lifetime.

The request evolved out of Bonds’ desire for the students to do a community involvement project that would help them develop democracy skills and not simply vote in an election and then tune out. The class overwhelmingly voted on the renaming project, and researched Davis and the history of the naming of the highway after him. Read more.

Alumnus Earns Competitive Fellowship to Teach Constitution

2006 graduate Sam Ulmschneider (left), a global studies and history teacher based in Richmond, was recently named Virginia’s 2020 recipient of the James Madison Fellowship.

2006 graduate Sam Ulmschneider (left), a global studies and history teacher based in Richmond, was recently named Virginia’s 2020 recipient of the James Madison Fellowship.

Persistence paid off for UMW graduate Sam Ulmschneider.

The global studies and history teacher was recently named Virginia’s 2020 recipient of the James Madison Fellowship – on his fourth attempt to earn the award.

The $24,000 prize is given to just one recipient per state each year to promote outstanding teaching of the U.S. Constitution in secondary schools. It will allow Ulmschneider to pursue a second master’s degree while he continues to teach gifted high schoolers at his other alma mater, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond.

Two of Ulmschneider’s previous fellowship applications resulted in his being named a runner-up. Undiscouraged, he kept applying, a process that included a lot of essay-writing. “I felt like my students do when they’re filling out their college applications,” he said.

His own education at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School – and the Advanced Placement credits he earned there – allowed him to focus on his academic interests almost immediately at UMW.

“The advising system was wonderful, and it’s one of the things I took away from Mary Washington,” said Ulmschneider, who double majored in history and philosophy with a minor in religion, and joined the University’s club fencing team. Read more.

Alumnus Earns Competitive Fellowship to Teach Constitution

Persistence paid off for UMW graduate Sam Ulmschneider. The global studies and history teacher was recently named Virginia’s 2020 recipient of the James Madison Fellowship – on his fourth attempt to earn the award. The $24,000 prize is given to just one recipient per state each year to promote outstanding teaching of the U.S. Constitution […]

UMW Community Works with City on Freedom Rides Historical Marker

Last fall, UMW students and city residents retraced the route of the Freedom Rides, the historic protest to desegregate interstate travel, organized by James Farmer. Members of the UMW community are working with the City to establish a historic marker on the site of the old bus station in Fredericksburg, the Freedom Riders' first stop on their 1961 trip. Photo by Lynda Allen.

Last fall, UMW students and city residents retraced the route of the Freedom Rides, the historic protest to desegregate interstate travel, organized by James Farmer. Members of the UMW community are working with the City to establish a historic marker on the site of the old bus station in Fredericksburg, the Freedom Riders’ first stop on their 1961 trip. Photo by Lynda Allen.

James Farmer Multicultural Center Assistant Director Chris Williams, Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin and Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation Christine Henry were interviewed in The Free Lance-Star about their efforts to work with the City of Fredericksburg to establish a Virginia state historical marker at the site of the old bus station where the Freedom Riders stopped first in their quest to desegregate interstate transportation in 1961. The station formerly stood on the corner of Princess Anne and Wolfe streets, near where the fire station is now.

Some of the riders were arrested in North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi. In Anniston, Ala., a mob of Ku Klux Klan members slashed the bus’s tires as it attempted to leave the terminal, and later threw a firebomb at it.

UMW students and staff and community members visited the field where the bombing occurred last fall, as part of a trip recreating the journey of the Freedom Riders.

“To our surprise, there was no marker out there. No historical marker saying that right here, the original 13 Freedom Riders were fire-bombed,” said Chris Williams, assistant director of UMW’s James Farmer Multicultural Center, which organized the trip. “I was enraged and so were the students.”

Back home in Fredericksburg, Williams was still thinking about ways the story of the Freedom Riders and James Farmer could be told better—and that led to the idea of placing a highway marker at the site of the old bus station.

Williams, Devlin and Henry, in partnership with the City of Fredericksburg, have started the process of applying for the marker from the state Department of Historical Resources. Read more.

Poska Presents to Center for Disease Control

Professor of History Allyson Poska

Professor of History Allyson Poska

Dr. Allyson M. Poska, Professor of History, presented her research on the first vaccination efforts in the Spanish Empire to the Center for Disease Control’s Immunization Division.

Al-Tikriti Presents “Engaging with Higher Education in Azerbaijan”

On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, Middle East History Professor Nabil Al-Tikriti presented a talk entitled “Engaging with Higher Education in Azerbaijan,” invited and hosted by Drexel University’s Global Education Curriculum. This talk was shaped by Prof. Al-Tikriti’s experiences as a Fulbright Scholar in Baku, Azerbaijan in academic year 2018-2019. In this presentation, he addressed points concerning American preconceptions of post-Soviet societies, Caucasus politics, and challenges of Higher Education in Azerbaijan. He wishes to thank Drexel University Professors Joyce Pittman and Kristy Kelly.

The event abstract read as follows: “In this talk, Prof. Nabil Al-Tikriti will describe his year serving as a Fulbright Scholar in Baku, Azerbaijan. In the course of that year, he compared his experiences teaching research methodology to undergraduates with Azerbaijani colleagues, conducted historical research in manuscript collections and university libraries, and assisted national counterparts in designing a proposed reform of Baku State University’s American Studies curriculum. In the course of his immersion, Prof. Al-Tikriti gained numerous insights into post-Soviet legacies in Higher Education, as well as in alternative models of university instruction.”

Those wishing to screen the presentation can access it via this event series link: https://drexel.edu/soe/resources/events/event-series/gec/May-12-2020-event/.

Devlin Discusses Segregation in National Parks on ‘With Good Reason’

Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin

Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin

Assistant Professor of History and American Studies Erin Devlin will be featured on an episode of ‘With Good Reason’ radio on WVTF Radio IQ beginning on Saturday, March 21. Devlin is working with Shenandoah National Park and four others throughout Virginia to examine the painful past and legacy of segregation in the parks and wilderness spaces and initiate more inclusive practices. Contracted by the National Park Services, she’s currently leading a unique study that will provide a more comprehensive picture of segregation in the parks through archival research and oral histories of those who experienced it. Once finished, the project will be used to develop more installations and resources – such as the one Devlin and her students recently completed at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park – that tell the stories of African American visitors to our national parks.

With Good Reason airs Sundays at 2 p.m. on Fredericksburg’s Radio IQ 88.3 Digital and at various times throughout the week on stations across Virginia and the United States. Check the website for show times.

Devlin Interviewed about National Parks Segregation Study on WVTF

Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin

Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin

Assistant Professor of History and American Studies Erin Devlin was interviewed by WVTF 88.3 Radio IQ about her study on segregation in Virginia’s national parks, commissioned by the National Park Service with the Organization of American Historians:

She’s poured over planning documents, blueprints, and maps in the hopes of understanding how segregation was implemented at the park. She’s built a whole filing cabinet full of sources. One drawer holds documents relevant to the state of Virginia, which resisted federal efforts to desegregate.

That evidence of segregation is right in front of park visitors all over Virginia, it’s just a matter of seeing it. “There are some picnic tables that are in an open meadow and there are other picnic tables that are in a shaded wood,” Devlin notes. “And that is a product of, in some cases, this legacy of planning for segregation and that there was a desire to tuck away African-American visitors in quiet corners of the parks.” Read more.