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The University of Texas at Austin


Briscoe Center Announces Smith Travel Award Recipients

September 10, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin is pleased to announce the 2009–2010 recipients of the William and Madeline Welder Smith Research Travel Award. This year’s awardees, all doctoral candidates, are:

  • Julia Brookins, Department of History, University of Chicago;
  • Joseph Locke, Department of History, Rice University;
  • Patrick Luck, Department of History, Johns Hopkins University;
  • Christian Pinnen, Department of History, University of Southern Mississippi;
  • Robin Sager, Department of History, Rice University;
  • Rachel Shapiro, Department of History, University of Virginia; and
  • Christopher Joseph Westgate, Department of Communication, Texas A&M University.

"These outstanding scholars will conduct in-depth research at the Briscoe Center through a fund generously supported by the late William A. and Madeline Welder Smith," said Brenda Gunn, the Briscoe Center’s associate director for research and collections.

The Smith Award assists masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral students who reside outside the Austin area by covering the costs associated with travel to conduct research in our extensive archival holdings. The Briscoe Center, with its significant holdings on the American South, Texas history, and music is an ideal research site for all these scholars, and it contributes to their professional development in their academic specializations.

"With the Smith Travel grant, we can make a real difference in whether a researcher can make the trip to Austin or not," Gunn noted. "We are therefore pleased to support these up-and-coming scholars, while simultaneously raising awareness of the depth and breadth of our research collections."

Julia Brookins will conduct research on "German Texas in the American Empire, 1845–1898." Brookins will focus on the significant roles German immigrants in frontier Texas played in the economic and social development of the United States.

Joseph Locke will carry out research on "Prohibition and Pulpit Politicians: The Politics of Clericalism, 1885–1916." Locke will examine how members of the clergy in Texas asserted a large role in the prohibition movement, which dominated Texas politics by World War I.

Patrick Luck will work on "The Business of Planting: Innovation, Calculation, and Knowledge in Lower Mississippi Valley Agriculture 1795–1820." Luck will study planters’ economic decisions regarding the kinds of crops they raised and the consequences of their choices on "the enslaved and the free."

Christian Pinnen will work on "Slavery and Empire: The Development of the Natchez District, 1720–1820." Pinnen will document both the transnational aspects and the westward expansion of slavery during a one hundred-year period in the nation’s history.

Robin Sager will research "Marital Cruelty in Antebellum Virginia, Texas, and Wisconsin." Sager’s work will explore marriage in mid-nineteenth century America as an institution in which men and women vied for power. Her study incorporates "a broad definition of cruelty" and explores its presence in the home.

Rachel Shapiro will conduct research on "Washington Brotherhood: Friendship and Politics in the Civil War Era." Shapiro will study antebellum Washington, D. C., illuminating how social interactions among men and women on opposite sides of the North-South conflict diminished hostilities and committed many of them to the cause of "union and peace in 1861."

Christopher Joseph Westgate will conduct research on his dissertation, "Labeling the Latin/o Popular Music Industry, 1970–2010." Westgate will document the emergence and development of Tejano music. Westgate will study letters, oral histories, sound recordings, and promotional materials to document how this now well-established industry grew out of an intersection of technology, culture, and geography.

Individuals interested in applying for the 2010–2011 Smith Award should visit the Briscoe Center Web site at in March 2010 to obtain application information.

For more information, contact: Erin Purdy, assistant director of communications, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, 512-495-4692.