History PhD Student Awarded Fellowship To Study Fatherhood During The American Revolution
Fatherhood throughout the history of America has been a changing role and the relationship between father and son can become complicated, especially during periods of turmoil. History Ph.D. student Travis Jaquess spent two weeks this summer pouring over books and manuscripts to study the complexities of fatherhood in the 18th century during the American Revolution.
“Fathers understood that the revolution meant that sons grew up in a different culture in a different country than they grew up in, so they are going to need different things,” said Jaquess. One of the things that came out of the revolution was that one definition of manhood was independence. We see independence as a major theme between father and son. Fathers want their sons to be independent. It’s the beginning of the American dream, which starts with the birth of the nation.”
Jaquess was awarded a fellowship through the Massachusetts Historical Society and is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to further research his dissertation. He spent two weeks studying in Boston this summer and will continue another two weeks next summer.
“I was thrilled. I was completely blown away,” said Jaquess about receiving the fellowship. “My dissertation is on fatherhood in the era of the American revolution and the Massachusetts Historical Society has one of the largest collections of colonial and early American documents.”
The Massachussets Historical society is an independent library in Boston full of rare documents and national treasures that tell the story of American history. They award only 20 short-term fellowships each year to graduate or postgraduate students, which provides them with a stipend for research and unlimited access to documents.
Jaquess began his American Revolution research as a master’s student and was able to begin his dissertation research in Boston last year.
“My topic came from my master’s thesis which was on Benjamin Franklin. The thesis was on how Benjamin Franklin identified himself as a man,” said Jaquess. He explained that Franklin became a patriot while his son remained loyal to the king, thus ending their relationship. “I wondered if other fathers and sons experience, maybe not to that level, but experienced trauma or transformation because of the American Revolution.”
Jacquess said that he plans to graduate in 2016 and will use his dissertation research to write a book. After graduation he is also planning to teach.
Jaquess was one of the winner’s of last year’s Three Minute Thesis competition hosted by the University of Mississippi Graduate School. 3MT gives students three minutes to explain their research topic and significance to a group of non-specialist judges using one PowerPoint slide.
To watch Jaquess’s winning presentation visit: