SPUR 2021: WORLD WAR II HOME FRONT THEME STUDY FOR THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

Faculty Name:
Matthew Basso

Department:
History

Faculty College:
Humanities

Email:


Project Description:

**This project is a part of the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR), which provides undergraduate students with an intensive 10-week research experience under the mentorship of a University of Utah faculty member. SPUR 2021 begins on May 26 and ends on August 5. If you are interested in this project, please review all program information on the SPUR site. If you wish to apply to this project, you must apply using the SPUR 2021 application.**

Prompted by recent federal legislation, the National Park Service (NPS), in collaboration with the National Council for Public History, has launched a major effort to revitalize its presentation of the World War II home front story. The NPS selected me as Principal Investigator for this four year project. There are three major components of this project.

  1. Update the NPS World War II home front theme study written in 2000.
  2. Produce home front histories for all 50 states and 5 territories.
  3. Conduct a reconnaissance of properties on the current NHL property list and produce one or more National Historic Landmark nominations for World War II home front sites from this list or from newly recognized sites.

This research will be of vital importance to the NPS as they continue their effort to provide the over 275 million annual visitors to NPS sites with a history of the U.S. that reflects the diversity of individual experience and the complexity of our national saga.

To put it bluntly, this is a truly remarkable opportunity for students to have their research impact what millions of people learn about U.S. history.

SPUR students will work with Dr. Basso and a team of graduate students on the state and territory home front histories. We will teach any SPUR student selected for our project how to conduct primary and secondary source research in digital archives following best practices in the humanities. SPUR students will read and analyze federal and state documents and historical sources that speak to the culture and society of the WWII era.



Opportunity Type:

This is a paid research position


Student Role:

SPUR students will work with Dr. Basso and a team of graduate students on the state and territory home front histories. We will teach any SPUR student selected for our project how to conduct primary and secondary source research in digital archives following best practices in the humanities model. They will have near constant access to a faculty and grad student mentor, but will also be trained to work independently. SPUR students will read and analyze federal and state documents and historical sources that speak to the culture and society of the WWII era. These will include newspaper articles, oral histories, and propaganda posters. World War II subjects of particular research focus include the environment, gender and race relations, the role of the government, the wartime economy, home front popular culture, and the experience of diverse communities including Mexican Americans, Latin@s, Chinese Americans, Filipin@ Americans, Black Americans and the LGB community both in the civilian and military sphere. Remote Contingency Plan: This project is very easily transferable to remote research. Indeed, the above description is written with both the possibility that there could be in-person research and the likelihood that we will continue to need to work remotely. Because all research materials are available digitally and because Zoom works well for the above type of work, I am utterly confident in being able to deliver an excellent SPUR experience. Notably, I am working with at least one undergraduate student researcher on this project this year through the support of the Pacific Islands Studies Mellon Grant. This will help me refine my remote mentoring approach. I have also extensive experience mentoring undergraduate researchers from my time as Director of the American West Center and from my teaching, including overseeing UROP and honors projects. My work in these areas has been a contributing factor in my winning the Distinguished Teaching Award, the Distinguished Graduate Student Mentor Award, the Public Service Professorship, the Honors Humanities Professorship and other commendations. I will absolutely be ready to go remote if need be.


Student Benefits:

Students will learn to find and analyze primary and secondary sources. They will work with faculty and grad student mentors to create a database of information about each state's home front experience. They will learn how to take large amounts of historical data and turn it into a compelling story backed by a variety of different evidence. The benefits of these skills are profound. They are the cornerstone of liberal arts training that corporate leaders around the country have said is precisely the sort of training they want new employees to receive. Likewise, these skills will be of enormous use to those that continue on to graduate and professional schools or into the government or non-profit sectors.


Project Duration:

35-40 hours per week on research and program-related activities, begins May 26, 2021, and ends August 5, 2021


Minimum Requirements:

Admission to the program is competitive. Applicants must meet all of the following criteria: 1) be a matriculated, degree-seeking undergraduate student in the Fall 2021 semester (beginning or continuing college career in Fall 2021 and not graduating before December 2021; concurrent enrollment while in high school does not meet this eligibility requirement). Applicants do not need to be a University of Utah student. 2) eligible to work in the United States: If you are a University of Utah Dreamer (with or without DACA), you are eligible to participate. If you are a Dreamer from a different institution: If you have DACA, you are eligible to participate. If you do not have DACA, you are able to participate and gain research experience, but might not be able to be compensated. For more information, please contact Megan Shannahan at megan.shannahan@utah.edu or 801-581-2478. If you are an international student or scholar, you must either a) be a degree-seeking undergraduate student at an American institution of higher education and verify with your institution’s international center that your visa allows you to participate in this program, OR b) possess documentation that establishes your eligibility to work in the United States (if you hold US citizenship, it is likely you have these documents). 3) able to commit to approximately 35-40 hours per week of employment at the University of Utah for the entire duration of the program (May 26-August 5, 2021). 4) at least 18 years old by May 24, 2021 (required if you wish to use on-campus housing; preferred if you will not be using on-campus housing). Please note that no previous college coursework or previous research experience is required.