The Summersell Scholars Program is an undergraduate history initiative that was launched in the fall of 2021 by Dr. John Giggie and the Summersell Center for the Study of the South.
Dr. Giggie and his students imagined this program as an intentional space for undergraduates to study and reflect upon the meaning of the descriptor, “historian of the South.” Before joining the program, all Summersell Scholars must have taken at least one Summersell course: Race and Injustice; Queer Southern History; Alabama Memory; Religion and Civil Rights; or History of Us. Each of these courses asks students to think about parts of the southern past that have been ignored, forgotten, or suppressed.
Summersell Program students have chosen to continue their work identifying and illuminating the neglected stories beyond one semester. The Summersell Scholars are an interdisciplinary team of undergraduates who, united by a belief in the value of local history, are dedicated to researching hidden histories with an emphasis on developing community partnerships.
The inaugural team of Summersell Scholars chose to focus their research on Tuscaloosa and West Alabama, seeking to create a digital mapping project that brings together Black and Queer history using local sources.
One of the program’s central facets is its integration of graduate and advanced undergraduate mentors who serve to aid the researchers in honing their research and in connecting with different community partners. Though each of these researchers designs their own unique project, this type of work must be done collaboratively.