Beacon Street Diary blog

Fellowships announced - Murder to missionaries

The New England Regional Fellowship Consortium announced its 2015-2016 fellows and the Congregational Library & Archives will host four enthusiastic scholars this spring and summer. Their topics range widely and our unique collections will help them develop new scholarship and deliver more information from our collections to an ever-widening readership. As research becomes more nuanced, unique collections like ours become more valuable. We welcome these four young scholars and look forward to assisting them in their pursuits.
  • PhD candidate David Thomas is investigating the 1772 tragedy of a 52-year-old immigrant, William Beadle, who murdered his wife and four children then took his own life. The incident spawned sermons, pamphlets, and newspaper articles up and down the East Coast. How, in a land that offered so many opportunities for improvement and new wealth, did so many find hopelessness and estrangement? Part of the answer may lie in words of ordinary people found in our New England Hidden Histories collections. Using their voices Thomas plans to create a micro-history that explores anxiety, alienation and anonymity in Britain's Atlantic Empire. He joins us from Temple University in Philadelphia.
  • Hailing from the University of Texas, Bradley Dixon proposes to explore indigenous subjects and citizens in early America through the actions of an American Indian noblewoman from the Eastern Niantic and Narragansett Indians who petitioned Charles II for relief from depredations she had suffered from Indians who had rebelled against the crown while her own family remained loyal. Dixon's dissertation compares the legal and political relations between Native peoples living with British colonial boundaries and those in Spanish America. Our rare books related to Indian missions and church records from New England Hidden Histories program attracted him to the Library & Archives.
  • Professor Mehmet Dogan will travel from Istanbul Technical University to delve into our extensive collections from American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, headquartered here at 14 Beacon Street. He wants to offer a new perspective on the journeys undertaken by missionaries from New England to the Middle East so we can better understand the position of religious circles in the region and its relation to growth of the ABCFM. Professor Dogan's own voyage started at the Ottoman Archives in Istanbul and will take him to Consortium partners the Houghton Library and the Massachusetts Historical Society, as well as the Congregational Library & Archives.
  • Associate Professor of History at Illinois College, Jenny Barker-Devine is currently working on a book project, American Athena: Constructing Victorian Womanhood on the Midwestern Frontier. The book examines women's social networks and public discourse in her own town of Jacksonville, IL during the 19th century. Attracting a diverse population from New England, Jacksonville was dubbed the "Athens of the West" due to its rich educational and cultural resources. Barker-Devine's aim is not to write a local history, but rather to "challenge existing narratives in American women's history and the history of feminism." Executive Director Peggy Bendroth assures me that Dr. Barker-Devine will keep our archivists busy with her requests.