Student Story

Ifill Graduate Students’ Thesis Presentations: Abolition, Women’s Social Movements, and Southern Baking

On December 15, 2021, Ifill College students from the Graduate programs in History and Gender & Cultural Studies presented their research at the virtual fall 2021 Colloquia. Thirteen students shared their work in front of peers, faculty, family, and friends. 

We spoke to some of the students about their work and their goals after graduation. Read on to learn more about the fall 2021 presentations.

Gender & Cultural Studies Colloquium 

Karina Sumano (she/her/hers) MA in Gender & Cultural Studies and Master's of Public Policy, "Not Worthy of Equal Treatment: U.S.Women's Social Movements and the Exclusionary Politics of Mother’s Pensions Programs and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)"

“My thesis explores and compares the women’s movements behind the Mother’s Pension Programs (1910’s-1920’s) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (1993). Through this project, I was able to see how women's movements had a strong influence on two distinct policies in different time periods yet produced intersectional inequalities, especially for working-class women and women of color. I hope this scholarship contributes to the conversation regarding the importance of applying an intersectional approach to policy advocacy to create equitable policies for the future.”

Emily Whittington, "Gourmetization Smothered in Gravy: How Biscuits Rose Above Cornbread in Southern Baking"

“I have the blessing and the curse of being interested in multiple areas which is why GCS was a great fit for me. I was raised in Louisiana and moved to Boston for college. I got my bachelors in film from Boston University and then promptly went to Paris and completed a Professional Boulangerie program.

After working as a teacher for film and piano and also a baker, I decided to attend Simmons for the GCS program. There I have been able to combine my interests in food and media as well as find new ones in Southern studies. My capstone combines all of my interests into one project. After graduation I will be finishing out the school year in my job as an after school teacher while researching potential PhD programs and continuing to bake many more biscuits and cornbread.”

History Colloquium

Jo Dutilloy, (they/them or he/him) MS/MA in History and Archives, “The ‘Rights of Travellers’ and the ‘Freedom of Every Citizen:’ Publicizing the Abolitionist Fight to End the ‘Jim Crow’ Car”

“My work is a synthesis of research on the coverage in the Boston-based abolitionist newspaper The Liberator around the fight to end the practice of forcing Black passengers to ride in a segregated car on railroads in Massachusetts.  The research focuses on the newspaper coverage between 1841 and 1843.”

Delaney Sieber (She/Her/Hers), Dual Degree Masters of Library Science and Masters of History, “Challenging Our National Narrative: Reconsidering the Role of Poor Bostonians in Protests toward British Policies, 1765-1774”

Delaney Anne Falenschek Sieber is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, but came to Boston in January 2019 to pursue her dream of becoming an archivist. Her research interests include colonial Boston and the Revolutionary War. Her thesis argues that the Sons of Liberty manipulated the anger of the poor to further their own political ambitions. However, the poor demonstrated political agency through various protest activities. They sought basic rights and accountable government officials rather than representation in Parliament. Even though the poor never achieved their goals, their memorable protests got the attention of those in power.

Other History Presentations included:

  • Corinne Wolfson, “Redeem New Jersey’s Name From Scorn: The Fight to Abolish Slavery in the Garden State, 1839-1846
  • Caleb Goodhouse, “The Right To Remain: Narragansett Resistance to Detribalization”
  • Ben Reagan, “The Yankee Hercules: Ethan Allen and Memory”
  • Remy Biggs, “Questa è Lotta: Women’s Organizing and Political Identities in Fascist Italy, 1935-1945”
  • Cassie Epes, “Reich Girls” and American Boys: Fraternization in Occupied Germany, 1944-1947”
  • William Crouch, “Tennis Activism and Sports Media”  
  • Tom Murphy, “The Cuban Republic and How it’s Remembered”
  • Mary Millage, “The Lost Villages: Jefferson County and the Expansion of Pine Camp”
  • David Heusel, “Western Illinois Teachers College and World War II”

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