Stevenson University Selected for Public Humanities Initiative; Will Work with Community Partner to Share Student Research

April 4, 2019 7 AM

Stevenson University is among 25 Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) member institutions selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of Humanities Research for the Public Good, an initiative to promote student research at private colleges and universities; address issues of public significance; and showcase the rich archival, library, and museum collections held by participating institutions. Participants were selected through a highly competitive application process, with nearly four applications for every available spot in the program. Each college will partner with a community-based organization to engage members of the public on a topic of local importance.

Stevenson University’s winning submission, Frozen in Time, engages public history students in transcribing a handwritten census from 1847 that provides data on Washington City’s poorest residents. The census is part of the Maryland Bible Society Collection located in Stevenson’s University Archives. The undergraduate researchers will investigate the 1,000 families captured by the census, their backgrounds, and how they fit into Washington City’s pre-Civil War social structure. Families will be mapped in order to determine their distribution across the city and to uncover location patterns. In addition to the handwritten census, students will work with federal census records, city directories, maps, and other primary sources to develop context for the study. Comparing their research results from 1847 with similar sectors of the population today, students will analyze what seems to have changed and what seems to have remained the same in the 172 years since the data were collected.

When announcing the initiative, CIC President Richard Ekman stated, “Independent colleges are stronger when they share their resources with their communities—and so are their communities. Those resources often include significant archival or library collections that can illuminate issues of real public importance. The institutions selected for the initiative—including Stevenson University—will have much to share with their communities.”

Humanities Research for the Public Good is generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For more information, visit