On Thursday, May 12, Lawrenceville’s 2015-16 Heely Scholars – Akash Bagaria ‘16, Eva Blake ‘16, Larry Cummings ‘16, Gina Kahng ‘16, Anna Milliken ‘16, Simran Suri ‘16, Gina Kahng ‘16, Larry Cummings ‘16, and Trisha Mukherjee ‘16 – presented their research through an exhibit held at the vestibule of the Noyes History Center.
During the summer of 2015, the Heely Scholars conducted archival research in the Stephan Archives, under the guidance of History Master Anne Louise B. Smit. The topic of study for the 2015-16 Heely Scholars was the 1960s, a decade that historians typically agree experienced a dramatic cultural shift as the nonconformist new generation opposed established customs and strove to revolutionize society. Through scouring the Archives and analyzing watershed events of the Sixties around the Harkness table, each Heely Scholar soon discovered a specific aspect of this decade that seemed intriguing.
“I hadn’t realized just how significant the Sixties were,” remarked Mukherjee. “As a Heely Scholar, I came to grow fascinated with this decade.”
From the role of media in the Vietnam War to the influence of the counterculture movement on student-faculty relations, the 2015-16 Heely Scholars investigated subjects that directly shaped the Lawrenceville community. The Stephan Archives certainly proved to be useful, as the variety of archival documents truly enhanced the Heely Scholars’ grasp of how the Lawrenceville community reacted to the 1960s.
“The documents, ranging from old Lawrence articles to speeches delivered by Head Master Bruce McClellan, deeply interested me,” said Cummings.
During fall term of the 2015-16 academic year, the Heely Scholars continued their exploration of the 1960s through enrolling in a course titled “Advanced Research Seminar.” The Heely Scholars completed preparing the Document-Based Questions (DBQs), which history classes on campus assigned students as a way of instructing them on the 1960s; furthermore, the Heely Scholars read numerous books, scholarly journal articles, and primary sources in order to write individual theses that spanned roughly forty pages each. The process of crafting a thesis provided insight into the historical process – by exposing Heely Scholars to conflicting viewpoints in historiographies, or by stressing the importance of identifying bias.
In addition to archival research, the 2015-16 Heely Scholars received the opportunity to conduct oral histories. What the oral histories offered was the ability to listen first-hand to the experiences of alumni who attended Lawrenceville during the 1960s. However, oral histories could be tricky: While personal stories could effectively shed light on the campus climate of the 1960s, they could also include hints of presentism as well as historical inaccuracies. Therefore, Molly Graham – assistant director of the Rutgers Oral History Archives – visited campus and discussed oral histories with the Heely Scholars. After meeting with Graham and reading online about the process of conducting oral histories, the Heely Scholars met with almost a dozen members of the Lawrenceville community who were on campus during the Sixties.
“Conversing with people who were Lawrenceville students and faculty during the 1960s was an overall amazing experience,” commented Milliken. “We’d studied the decade in depth, but learning about it face-to-face was entirely different.”
The 2015-16 Heely Scholars transcribed the oral histories and donated both the audio files and the transcripts to the Archives, as a way to give back and promote future research.
For additional information on all Lawrenceville School news, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of Public Relations, at email@example.com.