Briscoe Center Announces Smith Research Travel Awards

Feb. 25, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin is pleased to announce that Kenna Renee Acher, Paul Binford, Bryant Etheridge and Kimberly Welch have received the 2008-2009 William A. and Madeline Welder Smith Research Travel Award.

Supported through the generosity of the late William A. and Madeline Welder Smith, the Smith Award assists masters, doctoral and postdoctoral students by covering the costs associated with travel to conduct in-depth research in the Briscoe's Center's holdings. The four scholars join James Nichols and Kimberly Wilmot Voss, whose Smith Awards were announced in October.

"We are pleased to welcome these four outstanding and deserving Smith Award recipients, who will have the opportunity to conduct dissertation research in our archival collections in subjects ranging from environmental and economic history, to industrial history, to the relationship between law and subordinate southerners in the Old South," said Brenda Gunn, associate director for research and collections. "The Briscoe Center is an ideal research site for scholars, and through the generosity of the Smith Travel Award, we can ensure that these can travel to Austin to do work that is so important to their development."

Kenna Renee Archer of Texas Tech University will study the environmental history of the Brazos River. She will focus on both the ecology of the Brazos and human understanding and perspectives of the river. Using an interdisciplinary approach, Archer plans to investigate Native, Spanish/Mexican, and Anglo perspectives of the Brazos. Her approach will allow her to learn how the river was significant in settling Texas during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Paul Binford of Indiana University will do research in the National Council for the Social Studies Records (NCSS), focusing on the period from 1968 to 1978. He will examine the changes in NCCS due to the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and the organization's subsequent retrenchment due to "conservative trends." To gain insight into the shifts in NCSS, Binford will study documents generated by and for the NCSS Board of Directors that demonstrate the changes wrought during this ten-year period.

Bryant Etheridge of Harvard University will study the industrial economic history of Houston, Texas, between 1925-1975, which is considered the "oil boom" era in the Sunbelt city. He will seek to capture the ways that men and women began "understand themselves through their work." By studying ten firms that employed both white- and blue-collar workers, he will endeavor to uncover how the workplace in Houston grew in importance and led to the decline of participation in civic and political life.

Kimberly Welch of the University of Maryland will investigate the connections between "subordinate southerners and the lower courts in the Old South." Welch will study how subordinate southerners—non-slaveholding and poor whites, free and enslaved blacks, and women—effectively used the courts to challenge elites and how legal statutes may have limited their efforts. Welch's approach is part of an emerging scholarship that seeks to reevaluate power relationships in southern planter society.

Through stewardship, scholarship and outreach, the Center for American History increases knowledge and fosters exploration of our nation's past. As a leading history research center, we collect, preserve and make available documentary and material culture evidence encompassing key themes in Texas and U.S. history. The Briscoe Center is an organized research unit and public service component of The University of Texas at Austin.

For more information, contact: Erin Purdy, Center for American History, 512 495 4692.