HHV names new Summer Research Fellows as Women’s History Month kicks off

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Following a competitive application process, the Selection Committee of the Women’s History Institute is happy to announce the 2021 Summer Research Fellows.

Morgan Graham (PhD candidate, University of Minnesota; BA, Utah State University, 2019) has been awarded the Margaretta (Happy) Rockefeller Fellowship. Graham will focus on the letters and diaries of the Hoffman and Storrow families—part of Washington Irving’s extensive social network—to examine how women constructed identity through private correspondence. The work builds on Graham’s study of the use of letters in Thomas Hardy’s and George Eliot’s 19th-century novels. Her proposal to the Women’s History Institute explained that letters and diaries “are both forms of ordinary writing, texts that are typically unseen or ignored because they do not necessarily tell a story or operate within a narrative framework.” Graham said she wants use her research and writing this summer to “amplify the voices of 19th-century women in the Hudson Valley.”

Lucille Brewster (BA candidate, Vassar College) will also join us as a Summer Research Fellow to review a little-studied cache of documents from 1869-1872 related to the divorce of Gertrude Beekman. The Beekman family owned land that was part of Philipsburg Manor and had ties to the Van Cortlandt family. Although the case attracted some publicity in the 19th-century, much about Gertrude’s life remains a mystery. In her proposal, Brewster asked: “How did Gertrude Beekman’s class and racial status contribute to her experience in divorce proceedings? [And] how did both legal access and social stigma vary depending on social class and race [in New York divorces]?” Brewster plans to investigate how changes to the law, such as the Married Women’s Property Act, and the structure of patriarchy and power in 19th-century New York affected the divorce case.

Both fellows will conduct their research at Historic Hudson Valley in person during part of the summer, following HHV’s healthy and safety protocols. They will work under the guidance of HHV’s Research Librarian Catalina Hannan and Associate Director of Collections Jessa Krick. “Once again, we had a strong group of applicants for this fourth year of the program,” Krick said. “We so appreciate the Selection Committee’s careful review and thoughtful consideration of the candidates. We can’t wait to see what the fellows will discover in the course of their work!”

For more on the application process, click here. The application portal for the 2022 Fellowships will open in September 2021.