Research

2017 - Current

An Academic Approach to Genealogy and Family History

Family history and genealogical research are gaining popularity, especially in the United States, and have developed a substantial following of hobbyists and lay historians. Unfortunately, the movement has not caught on in the academic world. I believe this is for two reasons: 1) genealogy tends to focus on the raw data (dates and locations) to the detriment of the historical context, and 2) family histories have the added complication of memory, which is often at odds with historical research. 

This paper is an experiment in combining genealogy with academic research. The goal is to situate a family history (the Neeley family) within a larger historical trend, theme, or movement. This approach helps fill gaps were the genealogical data is missing and engages memory in a discussion with history, culture, and society. It also helps tie the individuals into the broader historical context and gives deeper meaning to their lives.

This paper was begun during the Spring 2017 semester at Georgia Southern University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Masters of Arts in History degree. The paper is currently being refined and enlarged to more fully tell the story of the Neeley family.

2017

How to Raise a Million Dollars, One Dime at a Time: Basil O'Connor's Anti-Polio Campaign

This research paper analyzes the fundraising strategy of Basil O'Connor, chairman of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (more commonly known as the March of Dimes). I focus on the organization's use of children in its poster campaign and argue that O'Connor visually leveraged the "advantages" of polio in order to out-fund every other disease-based foundation in the US during the 1940s and 1950s. The paper is written from the perspective of cultural history and includes an analysis of the March of Dimes forerunner, the President's Birthday Ball.

This paper was written during the Spring 2017 semester at Georgia Southern University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Masters of Arts in History degree. It is currently being submitted for publication.