Student and Faculty Research

Faculty Research

Faculty members, like students, undertake research projects.  Research forms the basis of our knowledge and enriches the history that we share in the classroom. Our research takes us all over the United States and the world.

Kathryn Tomasek’s current research focuses on digital scholarly editions of account books created by members of the Wheaton family in Norton in the nineteenth century. Wheaton College students have been working with Professor Tomasek since 2009 to transcribe and encode these account books for web publication. Tomasek’s students have traveled to workshops and conferences at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, and in Krakow.

John Bezís-Selfa is at work on a variety of projects related to Latinos and what citizenship has meant historically in the US: a book on Latino voting rights and articles on Puerto Rican migrant laborers in the 1920s and Spanish-language television in the early 1960s.


Dana Polanichka’s current research project examines how sacred space developed metaphorically, architecturally, and ritually in the Frankish world of the eighth and ninth centuries. Moreover, it seeks to understand how early medieval understandings of churches as sacred spaces helped to create religious, social and political communities in the Carolingian realm.

Anni Cecil is studying the lives of U.S. Army wives between the Civil War and World War II.  Using letters, diaries and memoirs, she tells the story of these women as they followed their their husbands on the western plains during the Indian Wars era, and to Hawaii, Panama and the Philippines during the early twentieth century. This project will explore a new facet of the military’s role in U.S. expansion.

Anni is also hosting a website called Military Life Memories, a collection of first-person testimony and artifacts about life on U.S. military bases throughout the world. The collection will be a permanent archive of information about military life for future historians and the public.

Faculty/student research

History Department faculty work with students on research projects. Students work as Wheaton Research Partners or receive support through other summer grants and fellowships.

Anni Cecil and Khalifa Alghanim ’18 received a 2017 Wheaton Student/Faculty Summer Research Grant to continue their oral history interviews with military retirees and family members about their experiences as members of the military community.  These will be transcribed and posted on the Military Life Memories website.

In summer 2016, Dana Polanichka and Alora Buxton ’17 received a second summer of research funding to explore further Dhuoda’sLiber Manualis, a handbook written by a ninth-century Frankish woman for her absent son. They are currently drafting their second co-authored article examining the text.

Jana Griffis, Sahilia Ramirez, Tyana Craig, Bill Funk

In summer 2016, four students worked with Kathryn Tomasek to complete transcription of the daybook of Laban Morey Wheaton, an account book in which Wheaton recorded transactions at a general store he ran in Norton between 1828 and 1859. In July, the group traveled to Krakow, Poland, for DH2016, the international Digital Humanities conference.

Anni Cecil and Khalifa Alghanim ’18 received a 2016 Wheaton Student/Faculty Summer Research Grant to conduct oral history interviews with military retirees and family members, about their experiences as members of the military community.  These will be transcribed and posted on the Military Life Memories website.

Related Links

History majors do original research and write papers in the Senior Seminar course. Recent papers include:

  • Sarah Hartshorn Hilton — Bread and Roses Too: The Acceptance of the New American Order Through Consumerism
  • Grace Kelly — Barriers & Byways: The Changing Face of Paris as Told Through Her Urban Form
  • Sophy Facey — The Wild West: Entertainment of the Wild West, William G. Binder, and American Identity
  • Billy Battaglia — Psychological Warfare: Bunker Hill, The Turning Point of the American Revolution
  • Sybil Krawczyk — The Failures of Off Reservation Native American Assimilation Boarding Schools in the United States from 1878 to 1923
  • Lauren Robinson — Portia, Marcia, and Clio: A Case Study of Women’s Private and Public Political Discourse in the Age of Revolution