History Department
History Department

Student Winner of Gilder Lehrman History Scholars Program

Mon, May 1, 2006

Only 15 students are chosen out of the more than 300 applicants each year for the six-week program. Students receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to do primary-source research for publication by the institute. Every year the institute selects a theme for all the students to work on. This summer's theme is the letters and writings of 1800s slavery abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Students will have the opportunity to study any other documents of their interest at the Gilder Lehrman Collection, as well as meet renowned historians to discuss historical issues and learn more about a profession involving history. Another part of the program includes weekly visits to the vast archives of historical documents on American history throughout the city. These visits are led by local archivists.

Maher said she found out about the Gilder Lehrman History Scholars Program on a visit to the History Undergraduate Advising Office. "I was dropping a class and switching into another class and wanted them to do their magic for me and just happened to see this flyer on the program," Maher said.

She started filling out the application and as the deadline got closer, her advisor for her senior thesis next year, Prof. Carolyn Eastman, sent her an e-mail encouraging her to apply to the exact same program. Eastman worked with Maher to get her essays and other application materials together. Maher will also be able to do research for her senior thesis during her six-week stay in New York City.

History Professor and Honors Director Mark Lawrence also has high praise for Maher. "Stephanie is one of the most talented students with whom I've worked in my years of teaching at UT. She manages to blend a curious mind with a remarkable talent for writing and boundless energy for her research. The Gilder Lehrman award will be the first of many prizes that she will win if she stays with the study of history," Lawrence said.

Maher explained that she originally became interested in this period of history through a family tradition. "My family used to watch the movie, 1776, a musical, every summer. It was sort of comically done, but we always watched this movie every 4th of July. Then my sophomore year at UT I took a 350L history class with Dr. Olwell and I chose John Adams as the subject of my final research paper. I concentrated on his letters and diaries. And during the research for that paper, I realized that the movie had actually been fairly accurate and in some instances had taken passages word-for-word out of his diaries and letters," Maher explained.

What's next after graduation? "Not quite sure what I want to do yet, go to law school or become a historian. It will be just such an amazing experience to be in these archives," she said. Obviously the anticipation of what awaits her in these archives this summer is foremost in her mind--graduation is much too far off.

All in all, it seems to definitely pay to visit your undergraduate advising office and participate in the history honors program. Maher said, "I love the UT History Department, I really do!"

Related Sites:
The Gilder Lehrman History Scholars Program Offsite Link
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Offsite Link
History Honors Program
Plan II Honors Offsite Link

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