Research

Students in the History Department at Elizabethtown College have opportunities to conduct independent research under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

For students planning on pursuing a graduate degree, original research is a vital part of developing the skills necessary to be successful in graduate school. All students, regardless of major, will find that research skills, including recovering, organizing, and interpreting data, are vital to success in a variety of fields and careers.

Recently, history students participated in research on World War II at the U.S. Army Heritage Center in Carlisle, PA. Faculty have also taken or supported student research trips to Chicago, New York, and Connecticut.

Senior Thesis for Honors

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas '15

Thesis: "The Futurists: Futurism, Fascism, and Feminism"

"Presenting my research at conferences forced me to look at my research and decide which aspects were most important to convincingly make my argument."

My senior thesis provided a strong finish to my academic career at Elizabethtown College. It was the largest project I have yet had to tackle, and it put my abilities to the test. I was able to synthesize all of the skills that I have learned as a history major.

My thesis, "The Futurists: Futurism, Fascism, and Feminism," focused on the female members of Futurism, an Italian avant-garde art movement that lasted from 1909 to 1944. I explored how these women adapted and adopted the ideas of a misogynistic movement to fit their own needs and ideologies.

The historiographical skills I learned from my capstone course enabled me to select the best sources on my subject, while my upper-level history courses taught me the analytical skills that I would need to evaluate the roles of women in the Futurist movement.

When the project was finished, I was able to present it at two professional conferences: the Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference at Ursinus College and Scholarship and Creative Arts Days at Elizabethtown College. Presenting my research at conferences forced me to look at my research and decide which aspects were most important to convincingly make my argument.

At the end of the semester, I formally defended my thesis before the members of the History Department. Though the defense was a novel experience, I am glad to have been presented with the opportunity; it made me think more critically about my research and how I would defend it against challenging questions.

Senior Thesis for Honors

Emily Vasas

Emily Vasas '15

Thesis: "Subverting the Strangulation of Creativity: The Influence of Hungarian Fiction Writers under Communism"

"I had refined research and writing skills in past courses and put those skills to use for my senior thesis."

The senior thesis in history offers students the opportunity to build their experiences with independent research and to earn honors in the discipline.

My thesis, entitled "Subverting the Strangulation of Creativity: The Influence of Hungarian Fiction Writers under Communism," explored the complicated relationship of Hungarian intellectuals with Hungary's communist government during the 1950s and 1960s.

The senior thesis program provided a meaningful conclusion to my study of history at Elizabethtown College. In my sophomore and junior years, I had conducted smaller independent research projects on Hungarian intellectuals, but the senior thesis provided the occasion for a more in-depth investigation.

Since was my final project for history here at E-town, I had refined research and writing skills in past courses and put those skills to use for my senior thesis. I was much more critical in choosing my research materials and in examining different approaches, interpretations, and biases than I would have been at the start of my college career. These skills were especially useful since my thesis focused on works of fiction and the lives of the authors who wrote them.

Presenting my thesis for Scholarship and Creative Arts Day and subsequently defending it before the history faculty helped me refine my public speaking skills and prepared me for presentations in graduate school. The senior thesis program is a great opportunity to conduct original research and to present findings in preparation for future academic and career paths.

Internships

Internships provide real-world experience in professional settings that prepare students for their post-collegiate careers. Internships can last a semester or up to a full year.

History majors can intern at an array of sites, including any one of the local historical societies, libraries, and museums. Internships can also be found in nearby Harrisburg, Philadelphia, or even Washington, D.C. There is no shortage of places for students to find an internship doing something that interests them.

Previous internships include:

  • The White House
  • U.S Supreme Court
  • United States Congress
  • Pennsylvania Museum Commission
  • U.S. Congressional Archives
  • Pennsylvania State Museum in Harrisburg
  • Winter's Heritage House Museum in Elizabethtown
  • Pennsylvania Governor's Office
  • Landis Valley Farm Museum in Lancaster
  • James Buchanan Foundation for the Preservation of Wheatland
  • Heritage Center in Lancaster
  • Hummelstown (PA) Historical Society
  • Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas