Faculty Mentor: Prof. Lucy Salyer, History
Topic: Explorations in Archival Research: The History of Immigrants and the Law
REAP is an apprenticeship experience designed for highly motivated, first-year students in the Honors Program. The REAP experience provides a fast-track for talented students, enabling them to explore topics of interest, prepare for advanced work in their field, and develop a close academic and professional relationship with a faculty member. REAP students must be nominated by an Honors instructor in order to be considered for the program. For summer 2014, students must be nominated by February 28; the complete application is due by April 1.
Joe, please tell us about your research topic.
My research was somewhat two-fold. Initially, I learned about the best practices in modern historical research by assisting my mentor, Professor Lucy Salyer, in her project on the Fenian crisis in mid-late 1800s. The Fenians were a group of Irish radicals naturalized in the United States who launched a series of attacks on Canada and eventually Ireland, seeking freedom for their homeland. However, despite their status as U.S. citizens, they were tried for their crimes in Ireland. Towards the end of the summer, I laid the groundwork for my own research topic on the 1920 Palmer Raids―a series of arrests carried out against suspect anarchist and communist radicals throughout the United States as an indirect response to the Bolshevik uprising in Russia during 1917. On the whole, these raids targeted eastern Europeans such as Poles, Lithuanians, and Russians. They were largely denied due process and thus faced harsh interrogations and detentions prior to unwarranted deportation hearings. My project will examine the effects of these raids in New Hampshire and will focus on the stories of individuals to humanize the Palmer Raids as a whole. I am largely fascinated by the U.S. legal system and its history of drawing the line between what does and does constitute a citizen's civil liberties.
What surprised or challenged you in carrying out this project?
I was most surprised by the kinds of time management required for the project. There were many days I was required to synthesize massive amounts of documentation in small periods of time. I learned to quickly, but closely, skim newspapers and diaries for keywords and phrases and evaluate their significance in relation to the project's scope.
Has this experience inspired further research?
As of now, I intend to continue with my Palmer Raids project, hopefully with additional funding from the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research.
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