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Undergraduate History student capstone research

Searching for Survival: The Division of Dakota Bands and the Roots of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862

By Spencer Kempf 

In the latter months of 1862, tensions between the Dakota Sioux and settlers residing in Minnesota came to a head. Years of treaty making and living side by side with European Americans had not only greatly diminished Dakota lands, but threatened to take away the Dakota way of life. However, not all Dakota resisted this deculturalization and assimilation. In reality, the Dakota were divided between embracing and fighting assimilation into American culture. In both instances, Dakota bands sought the most viable path for their survival. Southern Dakota bands saw the Dakota way of life as viable, and perceived the American presence as a threat. Southern Dakota leaders, then, eventually made the decision to fight to maintain a traditionalist culture. Northern bands would remain loyal to the Americans that dominated the area. The result of the division, and eventual fighting, was the internment and removal of Dakota people regardless of their allegiance. It was threats to the standing culture, coupled with broken promises, that prompted the killing of five Euro-American settlers living in Action Township. Four Dakota men sparked a war that would only last four months, but would impact the lives of every Dakota band and every Dakota member for generations. Through the use of oral testimonies from the descendants of this event, narratives from Dakota people, and treaties, this capstone will demonstrate that the division of Dakota bands prior to the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, was the result of Northern and Southern bands exercising agency in attempts to preserve Dakota life, culture, and traditions.


Published Patriotism of the Eau Claire Leader: A Focused Look at Newsprint Promotion of World War II Home Front Philosophy, 1941-1942

By Zachariah Fure 

The Second World War placed a heavy burden on the United States and the American Home Front upon its entrance into the conflict. It required a monumental overhaul of industry as well as America culture in order to meet the goals necessary to properly wage war against the opposing Axis powers. The fabric of American society became increasingly complex as the United States government attempted to secure its citizenries, complete support through existing government bodies and the construction of new executive agencies under the increased power of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency. In conjunction with separate public and private entities, such as the American Red Cross, American civilian populations would have avenues for participating in the war effort outside of military service. However, the information, jobs, and volunteer opportunities spear headed by the aforementioned categorical organizations would have never reached the vast civilian population of the country without the utilization of available media resources of the time period, newspapers being a prime example. Through the use of the Eau Claire, Wisconsin Leader Telegram from the first six months of United States direct involvement in World War II, this capstone aims to show a location-specific example of newsprint media dissemination in relationship to the broader propaganda tactics exhibited by the rest of the nation. Specifically, how the previously mentioned categorical organizations involved in the development of Home Front practices amongst U.S. civilians were facilitated in their development by that particular media source.


The Light Ages: Medieval Architecture and the Not-So-Dark Ages

By Jessica Ann Koser

The term “Dark Age” is frequently used when referring to the Medieval period. While many people use this label without realizing how it originated, people today still continue its usage. This paper will locate and gain an understanding of the origin and concept behind the utilization of the words “dark age” as well as the negative connotations associated with the phrase. Essentially, why did individuals from the Renaissance and until the recent past see the Dark Ages as dark? What were they seeing that was perceived as darkness? Additionally, the following paper will look at three architectural examples from the Medieval period, spanning the Carolingian, Romanesque and Gothic styles. The shining examples of these styles are the Palatine Chapel, Durham Cathedral and the Abbey Church of St. Denis, respectively. Also explored are the architectural elements and construction of these buildings to illustrate the complexity, level of talent, and intellect that was involved with producing these structures. By examining exemplary buildings such as these, one can come to the conclusion that the Medieval period was not a “dark age” but in fact a time of enlightened and talented artistic and architectural production and output that arguably shouldn’t have had any aspect of darkness attached to it.


Cracking the Spheres of Domesticity: How Female Roles as Nurses and Spies in the American Civil War Gave Women the Tools for Future Activism

By Tanner Locke

This capstone takes a look at what hopes to prove is the beginning of a break from customary gender roles within the American family. The paper takes an in depth look at the work that women do during the Civil War. It looks at the growth of their role within the home. It also looks at the necessary growth of their role outside of the home since the men are off fighting the war. Most importantly, this paper looks at the work that women do both as field nurses and spies for both sides of the war. The culmination of the growth in female gender roles gives women the experience and the tools for future activism.


Thomas Jefferson: The Man behind the Politics and His Personal Relationships with Women

By Eric Hagstrom

This capstone will examine the personal relationships Thomas Jefferson had with various free women throughout his life. Through analyzing Jefferson’s courtship with Rebecca Burwell, marriage with Martha Jefferson, and relationship with Maria Cosway in Paris, this essay will illustrate how Jefferson interacted with the women of his personal life and how he was emotionally weak in regards to those women. By analyzing these three relationships, evidence will be shown that he had extreme trouble with loss, in respect to failed relationships and at the death of a spouse.


Biased Justice: Ethnicity, Gender, and Justice in Progressive Era Milwaukee

By Lauren Gilstrap

This capstone analyzes the relationships between the Irish, Italian, and German-Americans in Progressive Era Milwaukee in the context of the justice system. A particularly dramatic case, the 1914 trial of the Italian immigrant, Carmello Musso, for the murder of her husband, is analyzed. A closer examination of newspaper accounts, arrest records, trial transcripts, and the Wisconsin Governor’s pardon files reveal the local attitudes, alliances, and prejudices that existed in Progressive Era Milwaukee. Within the courtroom, tensions surfaced between German-American District Attorney, Edward Yockey, the Irish-American elected Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Lawrence McGreal, and the Italian immigrant community that fought to protect Carmello Musso. The Carmello Musso case exposes ethnic, religious, gender, class, and political conflicts which collectively resulted in a biased justice system in Milwaukee during the early twentieth century.


Gender Roles and the Salem Witch Trials: Women's Newfound Power in Salem, 1692

By Aurora Froncek

This capstone is meant to analyze the changing levels of power that women encountered during the events of the Salem witch trials. The background and necessary information will be presented related to the trials, and women's expected roles during this time period will be explored, with the overall intention of discussing how women overstepped their intended spheres, and what repercussions that had. Women were meant to have a specific place in their life, with a minuscule amount of power. However, the Salem witch trials was a shifting time when women were stepping out of those bounds and given more power than before. This event left a mark on history and women's roles in a Puritan lifestyle.


Two Spirits: The Dichotomy of Saigō Takamori and Its Portrayal in The Last Samurai

By Aaron Hallingstad

The Last Samurai, directed by Edward Zwick, is easy to pass off as an American movie under the guise of a Japanese motif, but there is something deeper beneath the surface. The movie opened to Western criticism of the portrayal of samurai and Japan and mediocre public reception, but was juxtaposed by the overall positive and appreciative reception by Japanese viewers. While there are historical inaccuracies abound, these romanticized aspects that are commonly mistaken for Hollywood’s blatant disregard for factual events could in fact be indicative of a phenomenon deeply imbedded in Japanese culture. By analyzing the 21st century American movie itself, other popularized iterations of historical figures in Japanese media such as Sakamoto Ryōma, firsthand accounts of the modernization of Japan, and analyzing the Japanese reception of the movie compared to Western reception, this capstone aims to prove that portrayal of Japan and the rebel leader Saigō Takamori is a direct result of Japan’s own sense of tradition, heritage, and culture. Ultimately, this capstone will demonstrate that the glorification and misrepresentation of Japanese rebel Saigō Takamori is less a manufacturing of American design, and rather the mythologizing of a historical Japanese figure through a Japanese public memory that traditionally exemplifies certain characteristics of prominent national characters throughout its extensive history.


All My Love and a Million Kussies: Letters from the Home Front 1941-1943

By Amy Harper

During the American involvement during World War II, letters held great importance for soldiers abroad. These letters from loved ones not only boosted morale among the troops but told them of what life was like back on the home front, a life many soldiers could not wait to return to. From a historian’s standpoint, these letters paint a picture of what society in America was like for citizens who were not fighting abroad. The following paper will provide insight into American society during World War II and how the life of a Milwaukee housewife, Elizabeth “Betty” Upham, compares to the rest American society through letters that she wrote to her husband, William “Bill” Upham who was a soldier in Europe. Through her letters, an understanding of society, the economy, and descriptions of everyday life were described to Bill and reminded him what life was like back on the home front.


President Truman’s Monumental Decision: The Acceptance of the United Nations’ Partition Plan for Palestine

By Trace Osborn

This essay analyzes the decision of President Harry Truman to accept the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. It analyzes the role of the international community in the creation of this plan. This includes the United States Department of State, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the Arabs of Palestine, the Arab League, and the newly-minted United Nations. Furthermore, it details the roles of Truman’s domestic advisers, his personal beliefs, and his desire to win re-election in 1948 in the scope of the situation unfolding in Palestine. This document explains what led President Truman to support the UN Partition Plan; specifically, it will seek to understand why Truman made his decision against the advice of his allies and his foreign policy advisers and to make the decision that he did.


Similarities Through Differences: A Look at the Correlation Between Two Radically Different Civil Rights Campaigns in Albany and Birmingham

By Lucas Henderson

In the early 1960s, two contrasting civil rights protests made very different impacts on the Civil Rights Movement as a whole. The Albany Movement, from 1961-1962, was a drawn-out campaign that struggled mightily to prevail against a pragmatic tactician while spreading activists too thin in their strategies. The Birmingham Campaign, in 1963, resulted in a violent reaction by a short-tempered white lawman, which in turn brought about a call to action by John F. Kennedy, sowing the seeds for Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act in 1964. One campaign kept the Civil Rights Movement at essentially a standstill, and the other gave the Movement momentum it needed to make a massive turnaround. However, I will be seeing how the two are actually more connected than one might originally assume, by analyzing the two movements side by side in an attempt to make a correlation.


A Yellow Uncle Tom vs. A National Hero: How Acting President S. I. Hayakawa Split Support in the Japanese Community of San Francisco during the San Francisco State Strike

By Joseph Orser

November 6, 1968 was the beginning of what was to be the longest student strike in United States’ history. Through 5 months of struggle, confrontations with police, and battling an emergency-installed President, who was just as unwavering as the student protesters, a resolution came on March 14, 1969. The resolution created the first and only School of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State College. The role of Asian Americans, and in particular, Japanese Americans in the strike and the support from the communities behind them has been greatly overlooked by most scholars writing about this strike, except for a few prominent authors. This paper will examine further the roles Asian Americans played in the Strike. It will also analyze how the Asian American and Japanese American student protesters at San Francisco State perceived emergency-installed Acting President S.I. Hayakawa. Finally, it will argue that the support by the Japanese American community in the Bay area divided due to generational variances and divergent political beliefs brought to the forefront by the conflict between the Japanese American students and Acting President Hayakawa during the Strike.


A Right to Half: Regulation of Ojibwe Deer Hunting as a Treaty Right 1990

By Nicholas Dean Schauer

Throughout the 19th century, the United States Federal Government purchased land from Native Americans through treaties in which select groups of American Indians ceded (gave up) their land to the US for payment and annuities but retained the right to hunt, fish, and gather on said lands. After achieving statehood, Wisconsin, like other states that had contained land purchased through treaties began to regulate their natural resources. The State did not recognize the rights reserved by the Indians in the treaties and began to prosecute them into the 20th century for harvesting resources out of regulation. After several legal battles and the intervention of the Federal Supreme Court the Ojibwe Indians retained their rights to hunt, fish, and gather on ceded lands. Before the Ojibwe were able to practice their treaty rights, the State was given the responsibility to regulate Ojibwe harvests so that the resources could be maintained and harvested by non-natives as well. The reintroduction of Ojibwe treaty rights sparked opposition from large numbers of non-natives insisting that Wisconsin’s natural resources would be subject to depletion. Native harvesters faced harassment for all of their practices, perhaps none more than the spearing of Walleye. Resistance groups (often labeled as hate groups) were formed and protests were held where extreme racism ensued. Ojibwe Indians continue to practice treaty rights while attitudes of local non-natives have become less radical but tension remains. The regulation of deer hunting as a treaty right was intended to represent both Indian’s and non-Indians. This paper analyzes the regulation of the deer harvest specifically and its impact within the ceded territories.


In the Land of Freedom?: Early Life of Free African Americans in the Rural Wisconsin Settlement of Pleasant Ridge, 1848-1865

By Rachel Tierney

This research examines the free African American community of Pleasant Ridge in Grant County, Wisconsin from its founding in 1848 to the end of the Civil War in 1865. Through the experiences of the first few families to reside in his area, this study aims to illustrate the ways in which slavery continued to affect lives in the North at this time. These people demonstrate not only that some saw the North as a "land of freedom," but also that this ideal was not the reality. By describing Pleasant Ridge residents' limited freedom, one can see that the implications of slavery were not contained by the borders of the South. In fact, slavery and its consequences were impacting lives well beyond its legal constraints. Thus, this work sheds light on both the myth and the reality of the North through the lives of those in Pleasant Ridge.


Modernization of the State Department: Changes from FDR to Dean Acheson 1945-1953

By Kyle Schwan

This capstone looks at and analyzes the changes in organization and administration of the United States Department of State from the middle of the 1940s through 1953. Looking at the organization of the State Department during these years will show the influence World War II had on the Department as well as how the Department grew in order to manage all of the new areas of interest of the United States Government. It also looks at the role that each Secretary of State played in making changes to the State Department, especially the decisions and actions taken by Dean Acheson. Official State Department documents along with Congressional records are used, as well as the personal accounts of various people including Dean Acheson.


Changing the System: Tobeluk v. Lind and the Alaskan Boarding School System

By Alec Thicke

This paper focuses on comparing and contrasting the American Indian and Alaskan Native boarding school systems and experiences of the students in the continental United States and the state of Alaska. The Alaskan boarding school system was much different than the continental United States in which it eventually changed to help its students, and didn’t just try to “kill the Indian.” Included in this research is a background on boarding schools, why they were created, and how they affected the American Indian and Alaskan Native populations. Boarding schools like Mt. Edgecumbe and the Wrangell Institute will be looked at more closely in regards to boarding schools in Alaska and how they were administered. The main focus of the paper is the Tobeluk v. Lind case that occurred in Alaska in 1972. This case regarded the schooling that was supposed to be available to Alaskan Natives that the Alaskan government had promised, but did not provide. This court case was the turning point in the Alaskan boarding school system and what it would become. With this change in schooling being made better for Alaskan Native students, these students were able to learn the “system” and “fight” back for what was rightfully theirs. The Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act is an example of how some Alaskan Native students were able to do this. Tobeluk v. Lind had a huge effect on the Alaskan boarding school system, and allowed Alaskan Native students to take control of their education and use it to their advantage unlike many of the boarding schools in the continental United States.


Two Sides of the Same Coin: A Comparative Study of the Worship of Dionysus in the City and the Country  

By Megan Ward

Dionysus was one of the main gods worshipped by the ancient Greek peoples. He is most well-known as the god of wine and drunkenness, but there were other aspects to this deity. He was also the god of the vine/fertility, ritual madness, theater, and associated with death in some traditions. Many of the primary sources from ancient Greece are either written or archaeological, and allows a glimpse into the life of these ancient peoples. The ancient Greek peoples acknowledged these different aspects of the god through the myriad festivals and forms of worship in the city setting and the country setting during the 6th and 5th centuries BCE.


“All Were Young, and All Have Stories to Tell:” Wisconsin Children Soldiers and Drummer Boys in the Civil War   

By Jake Whitstone

The American Civil War was one of the most influential events in American history. The profound political, social, and economic changes wrought by this conflict continue to reverberate to this day. The war has an immense amount of historiographical material, primary and secondary, as well. There are still significant amounts of research available for study. Scholarship in the early 21st century has shone a light on the way the war affected children’s lives. Yet these works are focused on a more national, comprehensive scale. The area of study that I am researching will focus on child soldiers from Wisconsin in the Civil War. The primary focus of this capstone will center on how child-soldiers were recruited, the roles they occupied, and their direct experiences during the years 1861-1862. It will analyze how these accounts largely confirm existing historiography of children soldiers, but also note where these accounts diverge from present scholarship. To explore this, I have selected three primary sources: George Cleveland and Edward Downs, two drummer boys age 12 and 15; and one child soldier: Elisha Stockwell, age 15. All are from Wisconsin – Richfield, Milwaukee, and Alma, respectively. Stockwell defied his family to enlist, whereas Cleveland and Downs enlisted with family members. Through letters and diaries, these children attempted to convey what they saw as they grappled with one of the most transformative moments of American History.


Pure as a Crystal, Sparkling as a Diamond: The Development through Tourism of the City of Waukesha from 1870-1900  

By Alex Jelacic

In this paper, I will be looking at tourism in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Waukesha was built on springs that were reportedly magical and could cure disease. The main time frame where tourism exploded in this area was between the late 1870s until 1900. This is the time frame I will be analyzing. My goal will be to prove that through the expansion of the railroad, coupled with the vision of multiple entrepreneurs, this once small village transformed into a tourist attraction no one wanted to miss.