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Elaine B. Davis Research Award Winner Announced

June 2, 2010

Former DRT Library Director Elaine Davis, left, and current Director, Leslie Stapleton, right. Mrs. Davis accepted the research award at the Texas History Forum on behalf of the winner, Julia Brookins.

At this year’s Texas History Forum, Julia Brookins was announced as the winner of the second Elaine B. Davis Research Award. Ms. Brookins is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Chicago; the award will enable her to conduct research for her dissertation, Immigrant Settlers and Frontier Citizens: German Texas in the American Empire, 1844-1898.

In her application for the Davis award, Ms. Brookins described her project and the significance of accessing materials, particularly unique archival collections, at the DRT Library.

My doctoral research focuses new attention on the relationship between two central narratives of the nineteenth-century United States: continental territorial expansion and the integration of mass migrations from Europe.

Throughout the decades of mass immigration to the United States, the nation consolidated its authority in the new territories of the West and the Southwest. The United States worked to bind these lands to the national core. How did this expansionist project influence the way that European immigrants understood American society and adapted to it? To answer this question, I am focusing on the experiences of Germans in Texas, which was a new state in 1845 and one that played a critical role in America’s conquests…

In studying [the period] from Texan statehood in the 1840s until the frontier ‘closed’ and U.S. imperialists redirected their energies overseas in the 1890s, I concentrate on two important aspects of immigrant acculturation: the experience for the German migrants and the consequences for others [i.e. racial minorities such as Tejanos, Mexicans, African Americans, and American Indians]…

The completed dissertation will not only contribute to Texas history; it will also provide a unique yet feasible case study of a process that unfolded throughout the United States in the nineteenth century, as Europeans became Americans in lands that were themselves just becoming parts of the United States.

I visited the DRT Library at the Alamo for a short time this winter, and the funds from the Davis Research Award would allow me to return to San Antonio and examine a number of specific collections, documents, books, and visual materials I was unable to study before. I located a number of rare and unique items there which would add considerably to the depth and scope of my dissertation, including the Eugen Staffel letters, the Herff and Duerler families papers, and the [George Frederic] Oheim papers. I look forward to the possibility of incorporating more of the Library’s lively and important collections into my doctoral dissertation.

The Elaine B. Davis Research Award, endowed by the 2007-2009 DRT Library Committee chaired by Connie Impelman and sponsored by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, is awarded to bring scholars to San Antonio, Texas, to work with the unique materials housed at the Library. Mrs. Davis served as Director of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library from 1998 until 2008.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Robert Spencer permalink
    November 10, 2010 4:37 pm

    I’m glad to hear that you found the Eugen Staffel letters useful. You may be interested to know that I hope soon (January 2011?) to bring out another volume in the Staffel family archive series. It will deal with the years 1851 to 1865 and focus on Eugen’s parents. In turn, I would be interested in reading your dissertation.

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