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History grad top scholar

{Dr. Willeen Keough}
Dr. Willeen Keough

Dr. Willeen Keough, a graduate of the doctoral program in the Department of History and currently a postdoctoral fellow with the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), has been awarded the prestigious Gutenberg-e Prize of the American Historical Association for 2002. The announcement was made on Jan. 3, 2003, during the AHA's annual meeting in Chicago.

The Gutenberg-e program was launched by the AHA in 1999 to deliver high-quality, innovative scholarship on the Internet through the creative and thoughtful use of digital technology. Each year, a panel of distinguished historians selects the most outstanding of recent dissertations in North America for e-publication by Columbia University Press. Dr. Robert Darnton (Princeton), past president of the AHA, describes the review process as "so rigorous that it serves as a guarantee of quality control." He added that "the Gutenberg-e prizes represent the highest distinction that can be bestowed by the American Historical Association. The prize winners, six a year, stand out as the most talented historians of their generation."

Dr. Keough's award carries not only recognition and prestige but also funding in the amount of $20,000 US to develop her thesis into an e-book. Working with the electronic publishing staff at Columbia University Press, she will convert the dissertation into a digitized multi-media monograph, including features such as hypertextual documentation, active cross-references, and links to audio and visual clips. The anticipated publication date is December 2004.

The title of Dr. Keough's dissertation is The Slender Thread: Irish Women on the Southern Avalon, 1750-1860. Some central themes addressed by her work were source areas and motivations for migration, adaptation and community formation, work and the sexual division of labour, property and inheritance, women and spirituality, class relations, the negotiation of ethnicity and gender, and women's informal power in family and community.

Through her innovative use of traditional and non-traditional sources, she was able to make significant findings on the migration and early-settlement experiences of a group of women who, until now, have been very thinly represented in the written historical record. Her research was carried out under the supervision of Drs. Linda Kealey, Shannon Ryan, and Peter Hart, and was supported by a fellowship from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and a research grant from ISER.

Dr. Keough was excited by the honour and the potential that the award offers.

"Of course, every new academic dreams of having her or his dissertation published," she said. "And to have it acknowledged by such a prestigious body of historians and published by one of the premier academic presses in North America is very gratifying indeed.

"I am also delighted to be involved in such an innovative venture in historical writing. The AHA and Columbia are moving in challenging but exciting new directions in academic publishing, and I am thrilled to be part of the process."

{Memorial University of Newfoundland}