History students’ papers earn awards at honors conference

April 06, 2009

Two students from McDaniel College’s History Department recently had their work recognized as among the best undergraduate papers presented at the Annual Mid-Atlantic Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Conference at Delaware State University.

Laura Kurrle ’09, a History major with minors in Arabic Studies and Psychology, won second prize for her paper “Solemn Attestations and Ingenious Forgeries of Evidence: The Use of Prince Lichnowsky's Memoir as Wartime Propaganda in 1918.”

“I looked at Lichnowsky’s memoir briefly,” Kurrle explained. “A few days later I used WorldCat to find the original digitized copy that I had looked at. When around 80 editions of the book came up in the search results and all were published in 1918, I realized that something was going on!”

Kim Staub ’09, a History major, won third prize for her paper “Real Top-Notch Germans: German Prisoners of War in Carroll County, Maryland, during World War II.” Staub’s paper examined the interaction between the POWs and county residents. She analyzed how the prisoners were covered in local newspapers and how the treatment of the German prisoners compared to the way other “outsider” groups and other POWs were treated.

“I conducted two personal interviews with Jim Shriver and Helen Riley, who had contact with the prisoners, and got their perspective on the events,” Staub said. “There were some really great anecdotes, and it turns out that the prisoners even saved Helen Riley from being swarmed by a hive of bees.”

Kurrle and Staub both credit the unfailingly support of their McDaniel professors for their being able to produce such stellar research. Their work was presented during a conference that was held March 28.

“A lot of the faculty (at the conference) who I was able to talk to commented on how impressed they were with all the papers from McDaniel,” Staub said. “One professor from Mount Saint Mary's said something along the lines of ‘Whatever you're doing over there keep it up,’ because he was so impressed with all the papers that he read from here.”

Stephen Feeley, assistant professor of History, said Staub and Kurrle have much about which to be proud because their work stood out among competition from traditionally strong programs such as Georgetown University, Washington College, and the United States Naval Academy.

Feeley added that McDaniel had the largest group of students presenting papers at the conference. In addition to Staub and Kurrle, McDaniel’s contingent included seniors Matt Cowell, Beth Christovich, Joe Guida, Brenden Aston, John Stewart, Holly Thomas, and Christen Thomas.

“All of our students’ papers earned praise from their panel commentators for strong writing and sophisticated analysis of historical sources,” Feeley said.

Provost Tom Falkner complimented the students on their accomplishments and acknowledged the History Department faculty members – including Theodore Evergates, chair of the department, Donna Evergates, associate professor of History, and Feeley – for their outstanding efforts in encouraging their students to excel as scholars.

“There are few more powerful experiences for undergraduates than the chance to share their own research as young professionals,” Falkner said. “I know the kind of careful mentoring and coaching this involves.”

History honor society members (front row, left to right) Brendon Aston, Laura Kurrle, Holly Thomas, Kim Staub, Beth Christovich and (back row, left to right) Donna Evergates, Stephen Feeley, Matthew Cowell, Joe Guida, John Stewart