For the Historical Record

For most of American history, women have been underrepresented or misrepresented, if represented at all, for their contributions to our country. It was this reason that national leaders designated an annual month to highlight women’s achievements. After hundreds of years of exclusion, there is a lot of work to be done.

women in biologyRecognizing the vital role of women is part of every day at Saint Mary’s. Through research across the disciplines, Saint Mary’s students have been working to ensure women will be included in historical records going forward. Professor Jamie Wagman’s research with her students is one impressive example.   

“Honoring women’s history is at the heart of Saint Mary’s culture,” said Wagman, associate professor and chair of the History Department and the Gender & Women’s Studies Department. “Recognizing women’s and gender history is a year-round endeavor for us through lectures, our student-faculty research, and public history collaborations.”

The research is also giving her students valuable experience and professional exposure, from publishing in academic journals, to presenting at national conferences.

Here are some of their projects: 

Alison Tipton ’17, Katlynn Dee ’17, and Adrienne Whisman ’17 co-published an article with Wagman about women stereotypes and their misrepresentation in US history, which was included in peer-reviewed journal Seneca Falls Dialogues.

As part of an exhibit for The History Museum in South Bend, students are researching pandemic experiences from gender, class, race, and sexual orientation viewpoints. This work is in conjunction with Professor Julia Dauer’s English literature and medicine class. 

The exhibit will run from fall 2022 into 2023. The National Endowment for the Humanities and Indiana Humanities, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, are supporting this research.

Students in the U.S. Women’s History class designed an Indiana women’s suffrage exhibition for The History Museum in South Bend in 2020 and 2021. This project was supported by Indiana Humanities.

During the 2021 spring term, several students from Wagman’s 1970s U.S. Women’s History class contributed to a national digital history archive project for the University of Houston about the 1977 National Women’s Conference.

Jordan Lolmaugh ’19, Sarah Allen ’19, and Megan Temple ’19 contributed to a transgender oral history project published in Women and Social Movements in the United States. 

Several history students presented their research at conferences across the country during the last several years. Jalyn King ’20, Liz Ferry ’20, Savannah Jackson ’20, Liz Polstra ’20, Lillian Cronin ’18, Alison Tipton ’17, Adrienne Whisman ’17, Clare Maher ’15, and Lydia Hathaway ’15 presented at the 2020 Hoosier Women at Work Conference; labor history research at the 2018 Hoosier Women at Work Conference; gender stereotyping research at the 2016 Seneca Falls Dialogues Conference; and visual culture research at the 2014 Association for the Study of African American Life and History. 

This generation of women researchers and historians are not only committed to making sure women are represented in history, they are using forms of media, like digital platforms for exhibits and oral histories, that allow them to work remotely with colleagues and sources, and reach wider audiences. “Their work and the tools they’re using will inevitably teach them collaboration skills, as they are building a more solid structure for the representation of women in history in the future.” †

More Courier Spring 2022