Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Exploring History: An Undergraduate Research Fellowship Experience

Adriane Musacchio, a student in the Verrazano Class of 2015 who is completing majors in History/Adolescent Education and Dramatic Arts, was awarded an Undergraduate Research Fellowship over the summer.  Read below to learn more about the very interesting work that Adriane has been doing through the fellowship!


My name is Adriane Musacchio and I am a Verrazano Honors Student in the Class of 2015. I am currently pursuing a BA in History/Secondary Education and a BS in Dramatic Arts. Last semester I enrolled in Seminar in Advanced Historical Study (HST401) with Professor Zara Anishanslin. In this research seminar, I wrote a paper based on primary and secondary sources. The topic of my final research paper was how the Patriots influenced the intellect of women during the American Revolution. Once this class had finished, Professor Anishanslin thought that I would be interested in applying for the CSI Undergraduate Research Fellowship. If I got accepted into this fellowship I would become the research assistant for her book, which focuses on a 1765 portrait of a colonial merchant’s wife in a silk dress. Since this sounded like an exciting and interesting project, I applied for the fellowship and was accepted this past June.

As a recipient of the Undergraduate Research Fellowship, I worked alongside Professor Zara Anishanslin as her research assistant for her book, Fashioning Empire. The History Series at Yale University Press will be releasing Fashioning Empire in Fall 2015.

Although I am still assisting Professor Anishanslin with her research, I have completed many different tasks thus far. The biggest task that I have completed was coming up with an image log sheet for all of the images that will be used in Fashioning Empire. On this log sheet I included the name of each image, artists names, price quotes for each image, contact information of the institutions that hold the images, .tiff image files, .pdf permission forms, and whether or not permission rights have been granted. The institutions that I have been in touch with regarding gaining the reproduction rights of images include the Winterthur Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Library Company of Philadelphia, National Trust, Natural History Museum (London), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Rhode Island Historical Society, American Philosophical Society, Newark Museum, Wichita Museum of Art, the de Young Museum, The Huntington Library and Museum, Albany Institute of History and Art, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Atwater Kent Museum, Philadelphia Landmarks Commission, Rhode Island Historical Society, Harvard Law, Harvard University, and Yale University. In order to gain image permissions from each institution, I had to provide information about the book as well as information about the publication. This image log sheet will be submitted to Yale University Press this fall, before Professor Anishanslin submits the book for publication.

As Professor Anishanslin’s research assistant, I have also fact checked and researched eighteenth-century primary sources, images in museums, online history collections, and other information accessed through different archives. Some of my fact checking was done by ordering off-site primary sources to the New York Public Library and the Butler Library at Columbia University. For example, I ordered microfilms of the Boston Newsletter and Boston Gazette, The Antiquarian magazine, History of the Baptist Church of Oyster Bay, Long Island by Charles S. Wrightman, and Extracts from the Court Books of the Weavers’ Company of London. I mainly used these research materials to confirm information having to do with Robert Feke, Simon Julins, eighteenth-century paintings, and Queen Victoria. In addition to this, I helped locate an 18th-century probate inventory taken of Charles Apthorp’s estate, located the probate inventory of Thomas Willing, found information on Judah Hayes and Queen Caroline, came to the conclusion that the painting that once hung above the fire mantle at the Rock Hall Museum was a fake copy of Landscape, by Robert Feke, and located the wills of Reverend Ephraim Garthwaite, Reverend Robert Dannye, Thomas Willing, and Anne Willing.

I am so grateful that I was chosen to receive the 2014 Undergraduate Research Award. Gaining image permissions, fact checking, and researching eighteenth-century primary sources has been intellectually rewarding. Not only have I been able to make connections with professionals in my field of interest, but I have also been exposed to many different career options in the field of public history.

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