Millett, Bickford, Lessard, and O’Neill Present at Phi Alpha Theta

On Saturday, March 27, Saint Anselm College hosted the Phi Alpha Theta New England Regional Conference. This year’s conference was virtual on Zoom. Four Saint Anselm College students joined 22 other history majors from 11 New England colleges and university to share their research. Faculty advisors from other institutions once again recognized the high quality research of Saint Anselm College students, awarding Christopher Millett and Emma Bickford prizes. 

One Thing After Another caught up with Christopher Millett ‘21, Emma Bickford ‘22, Madison Lessard ‘22, and Connor O’Neill ‘22 to ask them about their experiences.

Chris Millett ’21 

Q: What was your presentation about?

A: I presented a paper on my senior thesis, which is entitled “False Generosity, Oppression, and Residential Homogeneity: A Freirean Perspective on the Unintended Longevity of Massachusetts’ Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) Program.” METCO is a one-way program that buses students who are racial minorities from Boston to mostly white suburban school districts. The program was founded in the mid-60’s with the intention of only lasting a few years. Fifty-four years after its inception, METCO still exists today.  In short, my research and presentation tried to provide an answer to the question: why is METCO still around when it was supposed to last only a few years? Relying heavily upon the work of education sociologist Paulo Freire, I claim that since METCO deals with a much larger problem that remains unaddressed—namely residential segregation that has contributed to persistent inequality—the program has continued.

Q: What was it like to present your research at an academic conference?

A: It was fun! It was great to meet students and professors from colleges and universities around New England and share our research. It was also great to attend the presentations of fellow Saint Anselm College students. Emma Bickford and I were in Professor Moore’s History Research Seminar class this past Fall (2020) together and to see the progress that we each made in the span of seven months, from beginning our research in August to presenting our work at a regional academic conference in March, was really cool.

Emma Bickford ’22

Q: What was your presentation about?

A: I presented on my thesis “The Concord Writers’ Block: An Exploration into Historic Literary Tourism and the Changing Outsiders’ Image of Concord, Massachusetts.” Concord is a hub for literary tourism as it was home to authors Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathanial Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. My paper analyzes how historic literary tourism played an integral role in shaping outsiders’ image of Concord, especially when this image changed over time in conjunction with major historical events and movements happening at the beginning and end of the twentieth century.  

Q: What was it like to present your research at an academic conference?

A: I enjoyed the opportunity to share my findings with a larger audience and to hear from other dedicated students on a variety of unique topics. Receiving questions and feedback from history professors and students at various colleges opened my eyes to new ways in which I can further research on my topic. It was valuable for me to sharpen my skills in presentation and public speaking. 

Madison Lessard ’22

Q. What was your presentation about?

A: I presented my research on the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of Saint James. This is a pilgrimage to the city of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, which, according to Christian tradition, is the burial site of Saint James the Great, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. The Camino has resurged as one of the most popular pilgrimage routes in Europe, especially for Christians, in recent years. The pilgrimage has roots in its massive popularity during the Middle Ages. My project, entitled “Four Ways to Santiago: Mapping Pilgrim Itineraries,” follows the journeys of four different pilgrims from the medieval and early modern periods as they made their way to the city of Santiago from various starting points in Western Europe. I used primary source documents from the four pilgrims to examine their travels, and mapped the pilgrimage routes using ArcGIS spatial history mapping software, to compare and contrast different routes taken during different centuries to reach the same destination.

Q. What was it like to present your research at an academic conference?

A: This was my first time formally presenting my research outside of a class setting, and I’ll admit that I was slightly nervous before the conference, simply because of lack of experience. However, I very much enjoyed presenting my research. Because a good portion of my project was visual, what with my various maps and comparisons of itineraries, I prepared a PowerPoint as part of my presentation and felt that this added an important dimension to my talk. I was lucky to be on a panel with a good turnout (even over Zoom!), and we had great conversations about many topics related to the Middle Ages, as the other student presenter on my panel gave a fascinating presentation on Frankish knights and feudalism. It was wonderful to have so many people in one place who are as interested in medieval history as I am. Sharing my research with an audience is something I definitely hope to do much more often in the future, and I’m looking forward to doing it in person once that’s possible.

CONNOR O’NEILL ’22

Q: What was your presentation about?

A: My presentation concerned Roman opinions of the Near East, specifically examining what the Romans though of the Parthians and the Black Sea peoples during the late Republican and early Imperial periods. My presentation examined relevant literature, archeological evidence, events, and written history, and strove to understand how the Romans viewed Parthia and the Black Sea region.

Q. What was it like to present your research at an academic conference?

To present my research at the Phi Alpha Theta conference was a great experience. I was able to share my scholarship with others interested in my area of research as well as listen to the research of others pertaining to various eras of history. Those in attendance were truly interested in what all of the student presenters had to say and were eager to learn and engage with the presenters in meaningful discussions, which furthered the knowledge of all. I hope to be able to present again next year, and I look forward to the conference being in person. 

Professor Moore on Evangelicals and Presidential Politics

Professor Andrew Moore had edited a collection of essays—Evangelicals and Presidential Politics: From Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump—for which he also wrote an introduction. This work will be published by Louisiana State University Press in April 2021.

The research of faculty in the History Department has always interested One Thing after Another, so this blog decided to ask Professor Moore about his book.


Q: How did you come to edit this book?

A: This project started way back in 2017, when I hosted a conference at the NHIOP. That conference originally was intended to mark the 40th anniversary of a Newsweek cover story that labeled 1976 as the “Year of the Evangelicals.” That was the year, of course, when Jimmy Carter was elected president. Carter was a self-described “born again” Christian, a claim that one third of all Americans made about themselves. Even President Gerald Ford, an Episcopalian, claimed to be a born-again evangelical, and voting guides and campaign platforms for the first time were designed to appeal to evangelical Christians. Newsweek’s cover story attempted to explain this phenomenon to others. Newsweek captured what has come to be the conventional wisdom—namely, that the election of 1976 brought evangelicals back into the political arena after some fifty years of self-imposed exile.

So to mark this anniversary, I planned this conference, obtained grant funding from different sources, and invited scholars to come and present their research about the election of 1976 and the history of evangelicals and politics since then. All the authors in this book presented at the conference—including Saint Anselm College’s own professor of theology, Ward Holder. These contributors either expanded their conference presentations or, in one case, wrote something new that was still relevant to the topic.

Q: What’s the book about?

A: Overall, it’s about the role that evangelical Christians have played in American politics between the elections of Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Donald Trump in 2016. It’s a collection of essays written by other people, so there isn’t one argument. Instead, there are several themes and ideas running through the book. A couple of the essays address the question of when evangelical political influence actually began and what its motivating impulses were. These chapters de-emphasize the importance of the election of 1976. One essay traces evangelical political engagement back through the Cold War and anti-communism, and another argues that race, not gender, mattered more for white evangelicals. Most of these evangelicals were white, and one chapter on Eldridge Cleaver (whose own dramatic Christian conversion made national news in the 1970s) shows how even this former Black Panther struggled to push against the whiteness of the movement.

Several of the essays also address issues of gender and sexuality—particularly abortion rights and the pro-life movement—that were central to the evangelical political mobilization of the 1970s. For instance, the election of 1976 helped to politicize abortion, encouraged a realignment of political alliances (between Catholics and Protestants, most notably), and altered evangelicals’ expectation for political candidates. The consequences of these changes would continue into the twenty-first century.

Q: With a title like Evangelicals and Presidential Politics, it sounds like it might be relevant today.

A: I think it is. In the Bible creating and worshipping golden images got God’s people into all kinds of trouble; but at least today’s evangelicals don’t seem to worry so much about that. Seriously, the essays in the book take us through the election of 2016. The statistics then were striking—80 percent of white evangelicals supported Trump. That’s pretty much the same figure as in 2020. White Catholic support was also strong, although it dropped off some in 2020. The essays in the book demonstrate how we got to this point, where evangelical Protestants are such a steadfast Republican voting bloc—”the Republican Party at prayer,” as some have described them. There’s a lot here to help today’s observers understand that relationship.

Savard Reflects on His History Major and Career

You might have read the recent Portraits story that featured Robert F. ’71 and Susan Savard who graciously donated to the new Welcome Center, now named after them. One Thing After Another was intrigued to see yet another former History major doing good and doing well in the world. Bob recently joined fellow former History majors John Vaccaro ’92 and James L. Hauser, Esq. ’91 on the Saint Anselm College Board of Trustees. We decided to follow up and learn more about Bob’s life and career.


Q: Tell us a little bit about your career. You started out at an insurance company?

A: Yes, after graduation, I started with Aetna Life and Casualty in Hartford, Connecticut. In that kind of big company there are multiple career paths. You need to come in adaptable, curious, and creative, with an ability to listen and switch gears. For example, I worked in the actuarial department for awhile despite my math anxiety (I actually came to Saint Anselm in part because it had no math requirement for graduation). But gathering facts on mortality, morbidity, and natural disasters was like the historical research I had done at school. The work of a financial analyst is related—researching the context of a company’s past performance in an attempt to predict what will affect its future. After a stint managing the information systems, I moved to managing the staffing department for the company. Part of this function involved on-campus recruitment for entry-level positions. I found that students with a broad liberal arts background were best suited for the different entry-level positions offered by the company.

After a variety of previous positions, recruitment was something I enjoyed and became particularly good at. In 1990, I left Aetna and started a new career as an executive search consultant. Initially, I worked for several large international executive search firms building my own client portfolio. In 2005, I formed my own executive search firm from which I retired in 2019.

Q: Clearly flexibility was a hallmark of your career!

A: Yes, that actually began at Saint Anselm. I started out as a political science major, but found the curriculum too tightly structured. History gave me more choices regarding areas, regions, cultures, and periods of time to study. Plus Professor John Windhausen just made history interesting! My career has followed in some ways a similar path. After a while I felt the large corporate environment was too limiting—I wanted more flexibility and choice.

The study of history prepared me for a successful career recruiting high-potential executives for corporate clients. Understanding the history of an individual in terms of academic study, previous professional work, and personal pursuits, is key in predicting future professional success. Understanding the history and culture of a corporation is also key in the successful hire of senior level executives.

Q: Sometimes current students think there is a clear and direct path from a given major to the job market. As a former recruiter of college students, did you look for students in specific majors?

A: Yes, in the liberal arts majors (history, English, sociology, and others). As long as the company had a training program, we wanted creative and flexible thinkers. I was seeking potential employees who knew how to learn, and knew when and how to question. They did not take facts at face value but understood how to look for nuance and what might be shaping the facts. I really looked for creative and effective problem solvers. The world doesn’t just throw itself at you—you have to be curious, willing to take chances, and able to sell your ideas and ability for the company.

Q: Obviously you were able to do that, to sell your skills and ability within Aetna and then in your own company. Did you have time to pursue your love of history in your free time?

A: Yes, especially in my recreational travel and previously in business travel. Whether it is domestically or abroad, I like to seek out museums or historic preservations.  I can easily spend hours reading every museum panel or historic sign. It makes the experience of a place so much deeper when I know the history of its people and its past experience. I also watch a lot of the History Channel and read novels set in the past. I’m drawn to the power of the story, of narrative, to explain the connections of our past to the present.

Deshaies Runs for State Rep

It recently came to this blog’s attention that Brodie Deshaies ’21, a History-English double-major (and Philosophy minor), is running for the New Hampshire House of Representatives in District 6 of Carroll County. One Thing after Another could not resist asking Brodie some questions about his experiences.


Q: Why did you choose to attend Saint Anselm College?

A: I chose Saint Anselm College for two very practical, but also important, reasons: the campus looked aesthetically nice and the food was excellent. These were my top concerns when touring colleges around New England. Other things that really solidified my decision to go here were the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and the school’s RCIA program. I was actually already going through a process of conversion prior to my freshman year; attending Saint Anselm College allowed me to complete this process by becoming baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith. I was previously agnostic.

Q: Originally, you were a Politics major. Now you’re a History and English double-major with a Philosophy minor. Why the change? What brought you to History and English?

A: I decided to drop the Politics major after my freshman year because the classes did not interest me. Nothing against the professors or anything, but I was not passionate about the subject matter. It would have been a terrible four years of college if I did not like what I was studying. I decided to become a History major because I was good at history courses in high school, and I had two AP credits that counted towards the major. I have always really enjoyed history, too, so it was a fitting change. I added an English major because of my EN105 professor freshman year, Kristin O’Brien, and my EN106 professor sophomore year, Ann Holbrook. Both of these professors made me passionate about writing. I enjoy literature, but I have always favored writing and communication. They feel like lost arts. The Philosophy minor was a spur of the moment thing. Second semester junior year, I realized I could fit two more philosophy courses into my schedule for senior year. I have really enjoyed all three philosophy courses I had taken thus far: Formal Logic and Mind and Cosmos, both with Professor Staley, and an ethics course with Professor Brown. Both my theology courses—one with Professor Pilarski and the other with Professor. McMahon—also drove me to my Philosophy minor. I am a strong believer that faith seeks understanding, and my Philosophy minor allows me to continue exploring the Catholic faith.

Q: When and why did you get interested in New Hampshire politics?

A: I became interested during the summer of 2016 because I needed a job, and Senator Kelly Ayotte was hiring. I come from a family with a fairly strong background in Massachusetts politics, but again, this choice was definitely inspired by practical motives. I needed money. My father and I became paid Field Representatives in southern Carroll County. I loved door-knocking and meeting with voters, and after Senator Ayotte lost, I got even more involved. I started going to local and county party meetings, helped local candidates with their campaigns, and ran for state delegate to the party convention in my hometown (Wolfeboro, NH). Eventually, I started getting paid for my work, and now I manage and consult for political campaigns.

Q: In an article that appeared in The Conway Daily Sun, you stated that “the biggest thing I think a representative should do is be an advocate for the people they represent.” What is Wolfeboro like, and what do its people need? What are the biggest problems confronting that part of New Hampshire?

A: Wolfeboro is the second-largest town by population in my county; it has around 6,400 people. It is a mixture of suburban and rural voters, and the average resident’s age is 58.5 years old (making us the second- or third-oldest community in New Hampshire). It suffices to say that we have a lot of retirees. Additionally, Wolfeboro is a resort town and a big summer destination for people all around the world (Wolfeboro is actually dubbed “The Oldest Summer Resort in America” and “The Jewel of Winnipesaukee). Our community is very dependent on tourism. Because of this, people in Wolfeboro demand a business-friendly climate. This means low taxes for individuals and small businesses and realistic regulations that will not overburden any small, local enterprises. Keeping and promoting this business-friendly climate also helps create more jobs and encourages young families to move into town.

The biggest issues affecting my part of New Hampshire is drug addiction, lack of job creation, and housing costs. In my opinion, all three of these issues are interconnected. Many people in New Hampshire struggle to find a well-paying job because they either live in an area lacking economic development or they lack the skills to do many of the technical jobs that already exist. This makes affording a home or place to live much harder, and the cost of housing in New Hampshire is already high. Due to these unfortunate circumstances, many turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to address the stresses and anxiety of life. The vice of choice tends to be opioids. Wolfeboro needs a state representative willing to fight for it down in Concord, someone who wants to help create a stronger economy and better job training programs, promote and incentivize private developers to build more housing, and someone who will work to combat the Opioid Crisis. These are all things I plan to do if I’m elected.

Q: Do you think that your studies in History and English have made you a better candidate?

Both majors have helped me become a better candidate. They will also help me be a better public servant. My History major has improved my analytical skills and my ability to solve problems. Additionally, it has furthered my knowledge of political systems and my understanding of politics. My English major has helped me better communicate with voters and future constituents. I have noticed you need strong writing skills for everything in life.

Q: What has the campaign trail been like so far, and what’s next?

A: The campaign trail has been fun but obviously busy. I am always working to get yard signs up and to raise funds. I constantly write letters in my local paper, the Granite State News. The next part is to execute and win the election. And after that, I am unsure. If I win I need to start writing some legislation.

Q: Do you plan to make a career of politics, or will your aspirations take you in a different direction?

A: I am unsure if I will ever make a career out of being a state representative, especially because you cannot do that in New Hampshire (they make $200 a term). However, I do see myself continuing to work on political campaigns (for now). I may even start a business with a fellow Saint Anselm College graduate. We will see. I try not to live too far in the future or in the past. I need to win an election first.

Lessard Labors at Literary Agencies

The History Department recently hired Madison Lessard ’22, a History and Theology double-major, as a department student assistant. The History faculty is very pleased to bring her aboard. Soon after she was hired, One Thing after Another learned that Lessard has some uncommon experiences, and this blog thought they were worth sharing.


Q: What brought you to Saint Anselm College, and why did you decide to become a History major?

A: This may sound like a bit of a college admissions cliché, but I came to Saint Anselm after I visited campus and it just “felt right.” Of all the schools I visited my senior year of high school, I felt far more comfortable and welcomed at Saint Anselm than at any other school. The Catholic, Benedictine environment here was also important to me.

I began my freshman year undeclared, but history had long been my favorite thing to learn since elementary school. History was always the subject I chose to spend extra time outside of school researching because it was interesting to me. After a little experimentation with majors, I finally declared my major in history in the second semester of my freshman year, and I couldn’t be happier with where I’ve wound up.

Q: We understand that you’ve been working for different literary agencies since you were 17. Why did you apply for that kind of job? How did you obtain that position at such a young age?

A: One of my oldest hobbies is writing. I’ve been a novelist for many years, and writing and attempting to publish fiction was how I first learned how the publishing industry works. I applied for my first literary internship because I was very interested in reading, editing, and understanding what happened “behind the scenes” in the publishing process. This was the summer before I became a senior in high school. I happened upon the first internship posting online and applied to it because I saw that it was remote and knew that remote publishing jobs don’t come around very often. I participated in an interview process which involved the sample edit of a manuscript, and I eventually learned that I’d gotten the position.

Q: Could you describe to us what you did at a typical day of work? What kind of books did you review? How have your responsibilities changed over the years?

A: I began my literary work as a “reader” or an assistant whose primary job was to review submissions. Literary agents represent writers and negotiate publishing contracts. To add new clients to their list, agents field unsolicited submissions from aspiring authors. My original job was to review these unsolicited submissions and make recommendations about whether my boss should represent them. I originally was responsible for reviewing fiction across a variety of genres. I worked for several agents over the course of two years, and my responsibilities expanded as I gained experience. I now have experience sorting through agents’ submission inboxes, gathering rights information for sales to publishers, and running agency social media. Presently, I’m the assistant to the president of a literary agency in New York City, and I’m set to be promoted again this fall to associate literary agent.

Q: What are the most important skills you’ve learned at this job? Have you learned anything else while working in this capacity?

A: The most important skill by far is the ability to read and evaluate text with a critical eye. Working in publishing means that it’s very important to keep in mind that what you are reading is a text prepared with the goal of being published. In other words, I have to be picky in going over submissions, and I’m often expected to make many notes and comments for writers. This has honed my editing skills and, in fact, improved my own writing quite a bit over the years. I’ve also been grateful to learn the various ins and outs of the industry in general. I will soon to be trained to negotiate book contracts.

Q: Do you plan to make a career of literary work? Or do you have other plans for the future?

A: To be completely honest, I am surprised, but grateful, that I have been able to progress so much in my literary work over these past few years. Because I went into the industry knowing it would be a rather difficult field to break into, I expected that it would take me much longer than it has to move up in position. When I started out at Saint Anselm, I hoped to make a career as an editor or something similar; this is one of the main reasons I sought out literary internships to begin with. My literary work deals mostly, though not entirely, with the fiction side of publishing, and as I’ve gone through college, I’ve become very fond of research and nonfiction writing as well. With this in mind, I most definitely plan to continue my literary work on my own time, but after college, I hope to attend graduate school and work towards a Ph.D. in history. My eventual goal is to conduct academic research and teach while continuing to participate in the publishing world, and hopefully publishing works of my own.

Bickford Interns at the Eisenhower National Historic Site

Emma Bickford ’22, a History-Marketing double-major in the Honors program, just completed a prestigious summer internship at the Eisenhower National Historic Site in Gettysburg, PA. Although she had to carry out her duties remotely due to Covid-19, Bickford still learned a great deal this summer. One Thing after Another is always interested in the experiences of our students and had some questions to ask Bickford upon her return to Saint Anselm College.


Q: Even before you set foot on this campus, you were interested in pursuing a career in public history. What sparked this interest?

A: I became interested in public history when I visited Old Sturbridge Village in middle school. What drew me to the field is the way it makes history come alive by engaging us in stories of the past that stick with us long after we’ve left a museum or historic site. It’s a way of using history as a form of outreach that connects people with history to create a better present and future. I am fascinated with how museums and historic places inspire and educate people by showing them how they are part of a much bigger human story.

Q: How did you find out about the internship at the Eisenhower National Historic Site? What was the application process like?

A: After volunteering with the Boston National Historical Park at Faneuil Hall, I knew I wanted to work with the National Park Service again this summer because of the way they create meaningful connections between visitors and history. While researching different college internship opportunities through the National Park Service, I found the Interpretation Intern application for the Eisenhower National Historic Site. The application process consisted of a resume, cover letter, and two letters of recommendation. After I was selected to move on to the next steps of the application process, I completed a phone interview where I got to share more details about my experience, answer further questions, and learn about what the internship would look like if I was selected.

Q: Originally, before Covid-19 struck, what were your duties and projects supposed to be at this site?

A: Before my internship went remote due to Covid-19, I was originally supposed to live on site in Pennsylvania with other interns. I would have acted as a tour guide for the Eisenhower home and worked at the information desk at the site’s reception center. I would have also researched and presented any other interpretive programming I’d worked on during the summer. Finally, I was supposed to work on social media posts with the goal of connecting Eisenhower to people in the 21st century. The goal of the internship was to work with the Eisenhower staff to formulate interpretive programming that applied Eisenhower’s history to modern day conversations and experiences.

Q: How did your assignments change as a result of the pandemic?

A: My readjusted remote internship offered me the opportunity to learn more about writing for public history and how to engage a community online that is centered around history. I was invited to write two articles on any Eisenhower topic I chose; these will be posted on the park website. I wrote one article exploring the ways in which Eisenhower lived out the advice that he gave students during his commencement speech at Dartmouth College in 1953. My second article centered on how Jacqueline Cochran, a leader for the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, helped inspire Eisenhower’s campaign for the White House. I also found photographs and researched information for Facebook and Instagram social media posts on various Eisenhower topics. The final aspect of my internship included using Adobe Acrobat to make oral histories more fully accessible for people with disabilities.

Q: What exactly are your career goals? How do you think this internship will prepare you to attain these goals?

A: After leaving Saint Anselm College, I hope to attend graduate school in Museum Studies so I can continue working towards my goal of becoming a Museum Director. This internship, combined with my double major (History and Marketing), has enhanced my understanding of public history as well as strengthened my social media skills. The whole experience has allowed me to see how social media can connect people with historic places and stories while also revealing the degree to which history can make an important contribution to modern conversations. I hope to bring both of these insights with me to graduate school and beyond.

Menice Maps Monasteries over the Summer

Katie Menice ’22, a History-Secondary Education double-major and Medieval Studies minor, received an Honors Summer Research Fellowship for 2020. One Thing after Another asked her about her research which had to do with Emperor Joseph II’s Secularization Decree (1782) which dissolved about a third of Austria’s monasteries.


Q: How did you become interested in Joseph II’s policy towards monasteries in late 18th-century Austria for the Honor’s summer research grant? 

A: I took Professor Pajakowski’s class on the Habsburg empire, and Joseph II stood out as a particularly interesting emperor with the number of reforms he implemented. I specifically chose his religious reforms for my project because I was interested in seeing the extent to which the Catholic Church was impacted by his work; the empire was a stronghold for the Catholic faith.

Q: What types of sources did you use for this project?  What challenges did you face doing the research for this project in light of Covid-19?

A: I mainly used Derek Beales’s book Prosperity and Plunder along with monastery websites to find the information I was looking for. In order to use ArcGIS (the mapping software), I made a spreadsheet organized by the different services (i.e., many monasteries operated parishes, hospitals, and schools). The spreadsheet below is the overview spreadsheet, which had all the monasteries I was researching along with the services they provided. Then the following sheets covered one individual service (e.g., parishes) and included only the monasteries that had that specific service. Originally my project was supposed to be a map of all suppressed monasteries under Joseph II. Sadly, due to Covid-19, I was unable to get the source material from Austria.

Q: Can you tell us about using ArcGIS (Geographic Information System) for your research and share some of the maps that you created for this project with us?

A: Using ArcGIS made my project more interesting because I wasn’t just compiling facts—I was also creating a map and looking at the spatial data. My favorite map, which is a bit nerdy to say, is the one that showed the parishes and churches built by the monasteries I researched during the time of Joseph II. I think it is very cool to see their placement and how the monasteries closer to Vienna created more parishes. The creation of new parishes had an impact on the monastic economy. However, creating these parishes was necessary to avoid suppression at the hands of the state. The problem was that the monasteries sacrificed their sense of community because of the monks being placed in the newly created parishes.

Another interesting map shows the resources of the three monasteries in my data sets that created the most parishes. These three monasteries were Melk, Klosterneuburg, and Gottweig. In the map the brown lines connect to Melk, the green lines to Klosterneuburg, and the teal lines to Gottweig. These monasteries are all within 50 miles of Vienna. Melk had an average distance of 42 miles between its services and the monastery, Klosterneuburg had an average distance of 34 miles, and Gottweig averaged at 17 miles. The average distance between monasteries and their services is about 21 miles. The map shows that monasteries had a wide range of influence with parishes even ranging more than 20 miles away from the monastery. And, these distances meant that monks working in the parishes or hospitals often lived more than a day’s walk from their home monastery and thus were not able to participate regularly in the communal live of the monastery. It would be cool to see how suppressions had an impact on the influence or services of monasteries and if there was any correlation, but my project did not have the data for it.

Q: What did you learn about Joseph’s policy towards monasteries from this project?  Did anything surprise you?

A: I learned that Joseph II had a very logical approach to suppressing monasteries. He assessed the finances of the monasteries and used the information he obtained to inform his suppressions. I think what surprised me the most was the number of monasteries Joseph II suppressed, which was 700.

Q: What was your experience doing research over the summer?  What skills did you develop?

A: It was a great experience to learn how to research a topic and be able to do so for two months. It definitely taught me time management and patience. It also introduced me to the research path of my major. While Covid-19 made it a bit difficult it was still really cool to research Joseph II more in depth.

A Message from the Chair of the History Department to Majors in the Class of 2020

Professor Dubrulle (lower right) poses with most of his suitemates shortly after they graduated from Pomona College.

Professor Hugh Dubrulle, chair of the History Department, sent the following message to the majors in that department who will graduate this year.


Dear History majors in the Class of 2020,

Every year at the senior dinner, the department chair makes a few remarks to the graduands majoring in History and American Studies. The chair usually issues a few pleasantries, tells the students how much the department will miss them, asks them to stay in touch, and reminds them that in the future the faculty stands ready to help them in any way possible. In other words, once a history major at Saint Anselm College, always a history major.

This year, of course, we’ve had to cancel the dinner in the same way that we’ve had to cancel so many other things. I realize that anything I write online is a poor substitute for a senior dinner where you can socialize with your favorite professors and fellow seniors. But I’d feel negligent if I didn’t issue a heartfelt farewell of some sort to the history majors from the Class of 2020.

Long ago, I received my BA in History from Pomona College. There are three things that every alum of that college shares: a mystical reverence for the number 47; a perverse pride in our mascot, Cecil Sagehen (alums frequently punctuate observations on social media with “Chirp! Chirp!”); and a clear recollection of the inscriptions on the college gates that flank North College Avenue. My attitude to each element of this triad varies. Frankly, I’ve grown tired of the “Mystery of 47” which is fatuous, and I die a little when yet another alum posts on the Facebook alumni page, “Hey, I was at the meat counter in the supermarket, and I got ticket number 47!” As for Cecil Sagehen, he’s certainly distinct if a bit ridiculous. Of the three, it’s the inscriptions on the gates that seem most worthy of attention (and by the way, these gates—surprise, surprise—are far smaller than the ones at Saint Anselm College).

One side of Pomona College’s gates at the intersection of North College Ave. and 6th St. (ca. 1930).

The gates were erected in 1914 when James A. Blaisdell was the college president, and he provided the text for the inscriptions. On one gate is written:

Let only the eager, thoughtful and reverent enter here.

On the other, the inscription reads:

They only are loyal to this college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind.

Years later, Blaisdell admitted to one of his successors that the first quote was “a trifle too prohibitive,” and that he should have left out the word “only.” That was a good insight. I know that when I first marched through the gates as an 18 year old (a rite of passage that all freshmen endure) I was certainly eager (perhaps in the wrong ways), moderately thoughtful on a good day, but not at all reverent. Blaisdell felt much less ambivalence about the second quote, claiming it was “exactly as I still would wish it.” It’s this latter inscription that I’d like you to keep in mind.

I know I speak for every professor in the History Department when I write that, at some point, we made a pledge to study history. Perhaps our attraction to the discipline began because we found it entertaining and engaging. But as we got older, we began to see that history is interesting. When I write “interesting,” I use it in the same sense as John Robert Seeley, author of The Expansion of England (1883), perhaps the most influential history book written in English during the 19th century. When he employed that word, Seeley did not signify “romantic, poetical, and surprising.” Instead, he meant something that “affects our interests, which closely concerns us and is deeply important to us.” History, he intimated, provides special insights into the past, the present, and the relationship between the two.

History is truly interesting because it helps us recognize the degree to which we are surrounded and thus limited by the past. As the text on the department website asserts (and we must thank Professor Pajakowski for these lines), “We live in the shadow of the thoughts and actions of those who lived before us. To ignore this legacy is to live a sort of collective amnesia.” However, studying history also includes realizing that we are not imprisoned by the acts of previous generations; by studying past societies we can understand values that differ from our own and imagine alternatives to the world in which we live. This immersion in the experiences of the past (as well as the methods we use to interpret that past) enhances one’s judgment of people, places, and things today.

Having made our pledge, it was with these riches that we left college and later graduate school. We thought they were so important that we decided to become academic historians and devoted our professional lives to sharing them with others. You must have found history significant because you also devoted much of your time here over four years to this discipline. Now that you are graduating, we ask you to do as we did—to bear your added riches as a trust for the people you will serve in your own careers.

If you majored in Secondary Education and are bound for a job teaching history in high school, this responsibility should be fairly clear. But even if you are not going to be a teacher, there are still important ways you can bear this trust in service to your country, your work, and your community.

The foregoing probably sounds portentous. After all, I’ve taken my keynote from an inscription that appears on a gate, and such inscriptions are invariably solemn and pompous. And I’ve made the study of history sound like a sacred inheritance passed from one generation to the next (which, if you were paying attention in some of my classes, will remind you of Edmund Burke’s arguments in Reflections on the Revolution in France). Still, the ideas expressed in Blaisdell’s quote are no less true for all that.

After all, take a look around you. Is the world doing so well these days that it has no need of the historical understanding as well as the analytical and expository skills you obtained in college? Can it really dispense with the riches you acquired during your four years?

Although the department chair repeats the following sentiments every year at the senior dinner, they are still sincere. The department will miss you, and we ask that you stay in touch. We will always be happy to hear from you. If you drop by, even in the midst of a busy day, we will make time to speak to you because it gives us joy. If you need references or any other assistance, do not hesitate to call on us because we are happy to help. After all, we share a common understanding that history, as Seeley put it, is interesting; we are all in this together.

Best wishes,

HD

Senior Profile–Tyler V.

The class of 2020 is having an unusual final semester, to say the least. While it is no replacement for a graduation ceremony, we thought it would be nice to have a little feature for each of our graduating seniors.

Tyler

Today’s featured student is Tyler V. from Pelham, New Hampshire. Tyler is a History Major with Minors in Political Theory and German.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities?
Hiking, Camping, most things outdoor, Reading, watching sports (specifically hockey)

Why did you become a history major?
I was always interested in history for as long as I remember, which I owe to Grandparents and Great-grandparents who told stories about family history and brought me to museums. One of my earliest memories is going to the USS Constitution with my Great-Grandparents. These events really inspired me to read almost anything history. Studying history in college, then, only seemed natural.

What is one book from a history class that will stick with you?
Jerzy Andrzejewski’s Ashes and Diamonds from Eastern Europe in the 20th Century. Although fictitious, the book painted a powerful picture of communist Poland in the aftermath of WWII.

What is a fond memory you will have about your time as a history major?
There are numerous memories I have, ranging from memorable Paj-isms to works of Soviet art such as Pass me a Brick. Reading about the South Pacific during the post-World War II and early Cold War era for my research project was also memorable due to the strange stories arising from a confusing political situation. For example, the British, Americans, and Australians teamed up with the Imperial Japanese Army in Indonesia to restore Dutch rule.

Who was the most interesting or intriguing historical figure that you learned about while at Saint Anselm?
David Livingstone. I hadn’t heard of him before Prof. Dubrulle’s British Empire course. I found his story intriguing because he was for the most part unremarkable and a failure until he decided to just become an explorer, which he turned out to be rather good at.

If you could live in a time and place that you studied, what would it be?
This is a tough question. I frankly enjoy more modern things like plumbing, effective medicine, and not being a peasant so that rules out a lot of periods. Though I would be intrigued to witness the North America frontiers, the Plains/Prairies region of the US and Canada or perhaps even Alaska/Yukon, during the latter half of the 19th century. The frontier was viewed as an integral part of North America identity so just seeing what it actually was like would be interesting. I would also get to see a lot of the natural, albeit sometimes dangerous, beauty of the west before widespread settlement.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
With the uncertainty around the goal is to simply find a job and grow my skillset. Right now I am leaning towards a career in the public sector, but that might change as I work or as the world changes.

Senior Profile–Bobby H.

The class of 2020 is having an unusual final semester, to say the least. While it is no replacement for a graduation ceremony, we thought it would be nice to have a little feature for each of our graduating seniors.

Bobby

Today’s featured student is Bobby H. from Manchester, New Hampshire. Bobby is a History and German double major.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities?
Watching sports, playing video games, exercising.

Why did you become a history major?
I’ve always been interested in it and I excelled in the subject matter in high school. One of the main reasons I became a history major was because I wanted to go to law school, and history is one of the recommended majors. They also recommend a second language, hence German.

What is one book from a history class that will stick with you?
One books that stands out to me is Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder. I just found it to be a really compelling read. Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century are kind of my thing, so this book was mesh of the two most famous of those regimes.

What is a fond memory you will have about your time as a history major?
One fond memory I have as a history major is presenting my thesis. I was really nervous before hand, but it went perfectly. That’s something that happens whenever I present: I’m always nervous, but I quickly turn on “playoff mode” and usually do well.

Who was the most interesting or intriguing historical figure that you learned about while at Saint Anselm?
My favorite figure that I learned about was Otto von Bismarck. I think it’s cool that one man through the machinations of planning basically founded and ran the German Empire for the time he was in charge as chancellor.

If you could live in a time and place that you studied, what would it be?
If I could live in a time and place, I would choose late Wilhelmine Germany (1890-1914), just before things went really bad.  I think I like imperial Germany so much because all things considered, it was a pretty successful state.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
I actually accepted a job today to work at RiverStone Resources, a reinsurance company in Manchester.  I’ve interned there for four years, and it’s a great opportunity. Reinsurance companies do great in times of economic hardship, so I am set. Long term though, I plan to attend law school.