Five Undergraduates Present at UA’s Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity Conference

Emma Pepperman in front of her poster.

Emma Pepperman, “Where Legends Were Forgotten: Enslaved Workers at the University of Alabama, 1831- 1865.”

Abstract: On The University of Alabama’s web page is a link explaining the Capstone’s slogan: “WHERE LEGENDS ARE MADE is about the past, present and future of The University of Alabama. It speaks to the aspirations of our students and their parents, to the pride of our alumni and donors, and to the devotion of our legions of fans in our state, across the nation and around the globe. It highlights our successes and the legacy we will continue to build upon.” With almost 200 years of history in Tuscaloosa, The University of Alabama has a large number of great legends in its history. Among those legends are the enslaved workers who built and served on campus but their contribution to UA’s success is often overlooked. UA, which opened in 1831, owned some enslaved workers and hired many others from local enslavers between the time that campus opened and the end of the Civil War. Enslaved workers served faculty members and students, made repairs on buildings and the grounds of the campus, built furniture, and assisted professors with teaching and research. This paper will explore sources written by white men to tell stories of the enslaved workers who lived and labored on UA’s campus. By looking at diaries, receipts, notes from faculty meetings, and other sources for and about the leaders of the school, found at the Hoole Special Collections Library, this paper will piece together what enslaved workers on campus did, why they were so often hired by the university, and how certain skills were monetarily valued over others. It will also paint a picture of what daily life looked like for slaves on campus.

Molly Buffington in front of her poster.

Molly Buffington, “A Faith That Sings: Lutheran Liturgy as a Theological Tool in the Reformation.”

Abstract: Martin Luther’s alteration of the Roman Catholic Mass into the Lutheran Gottesdienst (or “God’s service”) has been critiqued as an afterthought or an act of theological compromise to appease the conservative German princes and peasants. However, Luther’s worship rite, especially the ceremonies surrounding the Sacrament of Communion, was crafted to teach and comfort the faithful while also battling heterodoxy. Luther and those in his circle crafted a distinctly “Lutheran” way to celebrate Communion in response to the needs of their congregations, especially with the undereducated peasantry in mind, as a means of explaining complex theological concepts through word and act. Further, they allowed for practices considered unnecessary in order to console the weak in faith or to facilitate the conversion of former Catholics. The early Lutheran Service of the Sacrament was even influenced by the arguments and liturgies of non-Lutherans, such as Zwingli, Karlstadt, Schwenkfeld, and others, as the Lutherans countered other teachings on Communion and even tried purposefully to offend non-Lutherans through their liturgical choices. Thus the liturgy was not intended as a static, repetitive rite as a means to itself, but rather an educational, pastoral, and polemic tool to deliver forgiveness of sins and strengthen the laity in their faith.

Rhiannon Hein in front of her poster.

Rhiannon Hein, “Nationalist Sentiment in the Era of German Unification.”

Abstract: Before its unification in 1871, Germany was a loose confederation of self-governing territories. The unification of 1871, led by Prussia, one of Germany’s largest states, finally forged these heterogeneous territories into a singular political entity. My senior honors thesis for the History Department, a paper entitled “Nationalist Sentiment in the Era of German Unification,” analyzes the dissemination of nationalist expressions in Germany from a small but influential class of bourgeois intellectuals and artists to broader populations at the time of unification in the early 1870s. With support from two University of Alabama Research Scholarships, I conducted research with German and French documents over the course of two months at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, one of Europe’s largest libraries. The project examines why German nationalists in the 1870s disseminated their narratives, the characteristics of these views, and how these messages might have reached citizens beyond the bourgeoisie. I argue that in response to certain intellectuals’ critiques and doubts of the new Prussian-dominated Reich, nationalists strove to propagate patriotic mythology in the forms of new German identity and founding legends through a variety of means to as broad a population base as possible. I have utilized published poems, newspaper articles, memoirs, history texts, images, songs, and monuments of the era in making my argument. Current scholarship focuses on the fact that these ideas were generated by a small segment of the population but leaves room for exploration as to where and how these ideas traveled. My argument builds upon current scholarly conversation in its recognition that although these nationalists messages were generated by few, they had the potential to impact broad swaths of the German population’s collective consciousness.

Lauren Tucker in front of her poster.

Lauren Tucker, “Row Crops to Rocket Ships: How the Arrival of NASA Helped End Segregation in the South.”

Abstract: This paper examines the correlation between segregation in Huntsville, Alabama and the arrival of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the city in 1958. Using various newspaper articles from the time period, it argues that the economic prosperity brought to the city from the new government agency contributed to the process of integration. Based on previous literature in the field, historians have analyzed the federal investment in education and housing in the South. How government programs, such as NASA, affected the segregation issue in the South remains minimal in analysis. Segregation played a strong role in Alabama society and politics during the early and mid-twentieth century. Also during this time, Huntsville experienced varying degrees of prosperity. Placing NASA in Huntsville brought economic profit similar to prior experiences of success in the city. Not wanting to lose financial opportunities, city leaders looked for a way to continue the success. Because of threats leaders received about removing NASA from Huntsville if segregation continued, integration was required. The paper looks at the impact of the government using agencies to develop different areas and cultures. The government used NASA to promote their agenda in the American South. The success of this attempt demonstrates how the federal government can increase spending in one area of society to develop another. By funneling money into the economy of Alabama, the federal government solved a culture issue. This paper also examines the ways the federal government can sway state governments. Segregation was an issue of states’ rights versus federal rights. The triumph of the federal government in convincing Huntsville leaders (then Alabama leaders) to end segregation shows the influence the federal government exercises over individual states. This study held limitations that impacted research. Most of this research was completed in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The availability of data online provided enough evidence and data to conduct thorough research, but if it had been completed in or near Huntsville, more newspaper articles and oral histories could have been obtained. Another limitation was the time allotted to complete research. This paper was researched and written within approximately three months. A greater amount of time to devote to this project would have yielded more results, but making sure the conclusions drawn were detailed reduced the number of findings for this paper.

Brandley Beasley in front of his poster.

Bradley Beasley, “The Admiralty Foreign Intelligence Committee/Naval Intelligence Department Reports Database.”

Abstract: In 1883 the British Admiralty (Navy Department) began systematically to preserve intelligence reports on rivals’ navies, coast defenses, etc., and to produce analyses, policy recommendations, and operational plans based on that intelligence. The most important of these documents were preserved in bound volumes which are now housed in the British National Archives (ADM231). During the summer 2016 Dr. Beeler spent a month working in the National Archives, during which he photographed several thousand pages of those reports covering the period 1883-1902 for a book-length project on British naval policy in the late Victorian era.