Student History Conference 2021 Winners

Outstanding Undergraduate Award

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McKenna Crews
“Cassare Marriages on the Gold Coast: The Relationships that Memorialize Danish Men on the Gold Cost in the mid-1800s”

The award for best undergraduate paper goes to McKenna Crews. For her senior seminar paper, McKenna researched the phenomenon of cassare marriage, unions in Atlantic West Africa between European men and African women during the era of the Slave Trade. McKenna’s nuanced analysis of a wide-range of both written and visual primary sources impressed the awards committee. Furthermore, her argument in the paper grasps the pragmatic realities of these unions and the complex emotional attachments that individual European male participants in them could develop for their African partners despite their racism. She also raises an important historiographical point – the record is so androcentric that it is hard to get an accurate view of cassare unions since she and other historians only have documents from the European men. This award recognizes McKenna’s creative analysis of sources and her critical engagement with methodological issues at the core of historical writing.

 McKenna developed her interest in this topic when a history course on comparative slavery introduced her to cassare unions. Years later, she decided to research and write about it for her senior seminar paper in Atlantic history. McKenna is currently a student teacher in Muncie Community Schools where she has brought her knowledge of African – and other diverse histories to high school students in Muncie. McKenna will graduate this spring and has many options open to her including acceptance into an MA program in public history. Bravo, McKenna and good luck in your future pursuits!

Outstanding Graduate Award

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Lucas Cauley
“Politics and Patriotism: The Creation of the Indiana World War Memorial”

The award for best graduate student paper goes to Lucas Cauley. His submission examines the history of the Indiana World War Memorial in Indianapolis. Drawing on meticulous primary- and secondary-source research, Cauley delves into the multifaceted motivations that spurred the construction and design of the memorial. He offers a close reading of the memorial itself as well as the primary documents concerning the memorial, and does an exemplary job of contextualizing this case study within its broader historical and historiographical contexts.

Lucas is a second-year master’s student in Ball State’s Public History program. He has curated multiple exhibits, as an intern at the Early Ford V8 Foundation Museum in Auburn, Indiana, and in cooperation with the Ball State Archives and Special Collections. His award-winning paper is drawn from the research for his thesis, which he plans to complete this Spring. Congratulations, Lucas!