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  • pha 2017 Conference Poster Session

The Pennsylvania Historical Association sponsors a poster session at its annual meeting for undergraduate and graduate students to present their research as emerging scholars in the field of Pennsylvania and mid-Atlantic history. Posters are divided between graduate and undergraduate levels with one prize for graduate students and first and second places at the undergraduate level. At the Fall 2017 meeting held October 12–14 in Scranton, there were no graduate entries this year, and third place was not awarded at the discretion of the judges. The two winning posters are reproduced on the following pages, along with their abstracts. A list of all entries follows.


First Place: Alysha Federkeil, Slippery Rock University

abstract: From November 1903 until January 1904, the town of Butler, Pennsylvania, experienced one of the worst typhoid epidemics in American history. While the epidemic was caused by the failure of a private water company to supply its customers with uncontaminated water, it was prolonged by the inadequacies of the local health board. These two factors were the product of the Pennsylvania legislature’s refusal to pass meaningful public health legislation in the decades preceding the epidemic. A study of Butler’s water supply, its consistent issues, and the events of the epidemic reveals the failures of the Pennsylvania legislature and provides insight into the reasons behind much of the public health legislation of 1905. In his recent article for Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, “‘Under the Stimulus of Great Epidemics’: Reformers, Epidemics, and the Rise of State Level Public Health in Pennsylvania, 1872–1905,” James E. Higgins examined the role of epidemic outbreaks throughout the state in the process of establishing Pennsylvania’s public health organizations. Higgins specifically considered the Butler epidemic in relation to the creation of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Building on [End Page 268] this conclusion, a more in-depth analysis of the Butler epidemic and its causes will provide a more thorough picture of the conditions that persisted in Butler prior to the epidemic unchecked by public health regulations. This study makes use of contemporary local newspaper articles, notes and reports from relevant court cases, the Pennsylvania State Board of Health’s report on the epidemic, journals of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate, as well as newly uncovered local government records [see fig. 1].

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Figure 1.

Second Place: Maura Burns, University of Scranton

abstract: This paper, recently presented at the Phi Alpha Theta Eastern Regional Conference, evaluates the effects of poor labor conditions that Scranton anthracite coal miners dealt with and the resulting coal shortage, ultimately causing the federal government to intervene. To do so, I utilize primary and secondary sources obtained from the Lackawanna Historical Society, McDade Park Anthracite Museum, Lackawanna County Library System, and the Weinberg Memorial Library. The poster examines the Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902 within the city of Scranton and the daily struggles of anthracite miners. I intend to demonstrate the reasons why miners took such a precarious risk in striking during the turn of the twentieth century [see fig. 2]. [End Page 269]

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Figure 2.

all submitted projects

  • Maura Burns, University of Scranton: Scranton and the Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902

  • Alysha Federkeil, Slippery Rock University: “A Great Disturbance:” The Butler, Pennsylvania Typhoid Epidemic 1903–1904

  • John Ferrara, Slippery Rock University: Trouble in the Electric City: Scranton and the Great Railroad Strike of 1877

  • Amber Kelley, Misericordia University: American Lithuanian Immigrants’ Response to the Soviet Union’s Attack on Their Cultural Identity

  • Molly Ryan, Shippensburg University: Main Street Revival: Historic Preservation and Community Development in Pittsburgh’s South Side

  • Briana Scorey, Misericordia University: Shipboard Orientation: A Voyage in International Understanding

  • Ashley Sherman, Millersville University: Male-Centered Discourse and its Oppressive Effects on Women’s Literature

  • Allison Torres, Slippery Rock University: The Development of Communism as an Academic Subject Post-American Revolution [End Page 270]



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