Introducing the Women’s History Institute 2024 Summer Research Fellows

Summer Research Fellows

To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Selection Committee of the Women’s History Institute has the pleasure of announcing the names of the 2024 Summer Research Fellows. The Women’s History Institute’s Summer Research Fellowship supports the research of college and graduate students into the lives of women residing in the Hudson Valley, particularly during the time period mostly represented in the HHV collections: the 18th and 19th centuries. This year’s recipients will be researching 19th century women’s experiences with marriage, and motherhood.

Shayna Murphy, Margaretta (Happy) Rockefeller Research Fellow
“This fellowship project explores the theme of motherhood and maternal expectations for women in the Hudson Valley during the long 19th century… An investigation of the pressures placed on girls relates to larger questions of who society considered fit to carry children and how the expectations and experience of motherhood differed depending on race and class. The Women’s History Institute of Historic Hudson Valley aims to reveal the narratives of women yet unspoken and a discussion of motherhood unites a wide range of women, free or enslaved, wealthy or poor, to examine how this station shaped their lives.”

Ms. Murphy holds a B.A. in History and Anthropology from SUNY New Paltz and is currently a doctoral student at Stony Brook University where her research focuses on enslaved families in New York during the time of gradual emancipation. Her employment and volunteer work at Hudson Valley museums (Historic Huguenot Street, Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection, the Reher Center, and the Eleanor Roosevelt Center) has given her experience in public history and a motivation to uncover the lives of women from this area.

Chelsea Laurik, Women’s History Institute Summer Research Fellow
“My proposal for the Women’s History Institute Fellowship concerns the identity creation of nineteenth century women in the face of cultural attitudes regarding marriage. Using the library’s collections pertaining to the prominent Irving and Hoffman families, I hope to examine women’s disparate experiences with the institution of marriage, whether or not they fit into the expectations set out for them, and how this affected these women’s personal identity formation. I would also use the library’s extensive secondary literature in order to paint a wider picture of the culture in which these women were operating, and the expectations placed upon them. Through my research, I hope to shed light on the inner lives of “regular” nineteenth century women overlooked by wider scholarship.”

Ms. Laurik is a third year undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, majoring in History. She is also an active member of the University of Edinburgh Savoy Opera Group, University of Edinburgh Footlights, University of Edinburgh Singers, and was the recipient of the Robertson International Scholarship (University of Edinburgh) awarded on academic merit.

Both Fellows will spend time at Historic Hudson Valley’s Regional History Center over the course of the summer, examining primary documents (including letters, diaries, and scrapbooks) from Historic Hudson Valley’s Library and Archives and using the library’s extensive collection of secondary sources and reference works. Their investigations will be guided by Historic Hudson Valley’s Research Librarian, Catalina Hannan, and enriched by behind-the-scenes tours of our important historic sites.

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