Three East Carolina University students from the Department of History in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences have been awarded Joyner Library’s ninth annual Rhem/Schwarzmann Prize for student research.
Established by Ann Schwarzmann to honor William and Emily Rhem and Theodore and Ann Schwarzmann, the Rhem/Schwarzmann Prize recognizes outstanding research papers written by sophomores, juniors and seniors at ECU.
Winning the award for first place — and a $750 prize — was Andrew Colton Turner, a 2017 graduate, for “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Events: The Experiences of Common People During the Siege and Capture of Fort Macon.”
“It’s a great honor to receive an award like this and to use these resources to do the research worthy of such an award,” said Turner.
Senior Noah S. Shuler took second place and a $500 prize for “A Struggle for Growth: The Civil War and North Carolina Religiosity.”
Junior Anna Scott Marsh received a $250 prize and third place for “Life, Labor, & Lasting Legacy: James Yadkin Joyner’s Investment in North Carolina’s Educational System.”
Eligibility criteria required students to use the library’s Special Collections, which houses manuscripts, rare books, university archives and the North Carolina Collection, as a primary source for their research.
“Joyner Library’s Special Collections contain a wealth of primary source materials relevant to every field of study,” said Joyner Library Director Jan Lewis. “We are happy to partner with ECU instructors to encourage the exploration and use of these materials by undergraduate students and to recognize excellence in student research through the Rhem/Schwarzmann prize.”
Papers could be in any field of study but had to be at least 10 pages or 2,500 words in length and submitted by Feb. 17. Entries were judged on originality, quality of research, style, documentation and overall excellence by a panel comprised of faculty and staff from the library.
“Joyner’s Special Collections offers me the opportunity to use really good primary resources located right in my backyard,” said Turner. “It’s really interesting to see how someone’s letters from Rhode Island end up in a library in North Carolina and then can be used for something I’m interested in.”
Turner said he enjoyed how easily accessible the collection is along with the controlled environment that is safe for both the user and the materials.
“When you sit down and hold something that someone 150 years before you held, it’s a totally different experience. You get a better personal connection to your topic than if you were just staring at a computer screen. It’s a full circle.”
Turner also offered advice for students who haven’t yet explored the collection.
“The special collections staff is extremely helpful, so don’t be intimidated. Requesting a document from the collection is completed online. Then all you have to do is show up and your box will be there waiting for you to do your research.”
“My favorite part of working in special collections is getting to see what students can do with our material,” said Sarah McLusky, outreach and instruction librarian in special collections. “It was a pleasure to read this year’s entries, and to hear the winners speak with such enthusiasm about their research.”
This year’s awards were made possible by the Friends of Joyner Library and the generosity of the late Ann Schwarzmann.
“Mrs. Schwarzmann would be pleased to see the enthusiasm and deep subject matter engagement by this year’s prize recipients,” said Lewis.
For more information about the awards and future participation, contact McLusky at 252-328-2444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about manuscripts and rare books, university archives, digital collections and the North Carolina Collection, visit www.ecu.edu/cs-lib/specialcollections.
By: Kelly Rogers Dilda