Mellon Scholars – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Mellon Scholars

Beyond the Horizon: the Detroit Observatory’s Early Women Astronomers

Yasmeen Berry | Mellon Scholars

The year 2020 marked the 150th anniversary of the admission of women to the University of Michigan. “Beyond the Horizon: the Detroit Observatory’s Early Women Astronomers” is an expansion upon an online exhibition. It was created to showcase the development and impact of higher education in astronomy for women at the University of Michigan. Created in collaboration with the Bentley Historical Library and the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), this exhibition gave a unique look into the lives of early women astronomy students at the Detroit Observatory. In an effort to increase the online presence of information regarding these early women astronomers, biographical sketches were adapted to accommodate for increased online accessibility. In addition to these online awareness efforts, information was added on previous women astronomers showcased and on new additions to the exhibition. The collection currently includes Harriet W. Bigelow, Agnes Ermina Wells, Hazel Marie Losh, Helen (Walter) Dodson Prince, and Laura Elizabeth Hill Mclaughlin.

Black Families After Civil War – Creating Network of Care

Gideon Kortenhoven | Mellon Scholars

How did African American families survive and care for themselves during the transition for slavery to freedom? Our research investigates this question by following the lives of widows after the Civil War. After the war, the wives of Black soldiers who died filed for pensions from the federal government. These files include biographical information of the families and testimonies from those that could attest to the fact that the woman filing for a pension was married and had found support or taken up with a new husband. The goal of this research is to understand how Black women formed networks of care and how Black families and friends maintained ties from slavery, to freedom–through the Reconstruction period and into Jim Crow period. This research compiles genealogical data from the census, analyzes secondary literature, and examines pension files. We find that Black women held closely to their immediate familial relationships and their friends through common experiences and interactions. However, separation of Black families and friends due to geographical movement caused a strain on relationships. We hope to uncover more intimate information regarding the families being researched. The networks created among Black people represent the past and contemporary need for a sense of community among African Americans.

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