McKendree History Students Present Papers at International Conference

Lebanon, Ill. — Two McKendree University senior history majors shared their research with historians from across the U.S. at the recent biennial convention of Phi Alpha Theta international honor society, held in Albuquerque Jan 2-5.

Meghan Dohogne, of Cape Girardeau, Mo., presented “Altering American Art: The Hudson River School.” She explained how this group of painters formed the first uniquely American art school and broke the former European connection to create a new style of landscape painting. “Through their interactions they created a close bond that surfaces in comparing their paintings,” she said.

Andrew Olden, of Edwardsville, Ill., researched Southern Illinois gang activity during the Prohibition era for his paper, “Bombs, Booze, and Bandits: The Social Stigma Surrounding the Shelton and Birger Gang Warfare.” He was drawn to the subject by stories and recollections his grandmother has shared. “As I got deeper into researching the topic, I had travel to Southern Illinois University Carbondale to do research and my grandmother accompanied me, which turned into quite the bonding experience,” he said.

“Few undergraduate students ever present or publish their research, and it is amazing that two of our majors had the skill, courage and initiative to put their work out there before the academic community,” said Dr. Patrick Folk, professor of history at McKendree. “Having these seniors present their research papers at such a prestigious conference is a real honor for McKendree University. We are extremely proud of Meghan and Andy and their accomplishments. It was also great that the university paid part of their expenses for the trip, showing our commitment to fostering excellence in our students.”

Phi Alpha Theta promotes the study of history by encouraging research, publication and the exchange of learning and ideas among historians. Both students agreed the chance to meet other historians from across the country was invaluable. “They were all so helpful, open and willing to share their advice on how to succeed in my future aspirations for attending graduate school to become an art history professor,” Dohogne said. “It allowed everyone from the editor of ‘The Historian’ to an undergraduate history major to make connections outside of the usual formal social conventions.”

Olden returned with new ideas for his future as a scholar and a historian. “It was a valuable experience to be able to speak in front of other scholars and field their questions, but the real experiences were gained through the networking opportunities.”