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History professor to present award-winning book at monthly lecture

Submitted by Jayme Goad on February 26, 2014 – 7:31 pmNo Comment

Illustration by Paige Mason

History professor Susanah Romney will be discussing her new award-winning book, “New Netherland Connections Intimate Networks and Atlantic Ties in Seventeenth-Century America” at the next Evenings with History session on Tuesday, March 4.

“Evenings with History” is a series of lectures sponsored by the University of History Institute that include presentations from the university’s faculty members which highlight their current research. Many of these lectures include their books they have written.

Romney, from Califoria, started writing her book when she was a graduate student at Leiden University in the Netherlands. She knew she wanted to study early American history. “That’s really the most exciting time of world history,” she said. Her goal was to uncover the role of women in early America and understand the cultural interaction.

After studying the Dutch language, Romney went to the archive in Amsterdam to get the records unveiling a time period she called early day America. The Dutch language “poses a barrier” for other historians wanting to obtain records, so the Dutch haven’t been studied much for of this reason, she said.

“Also, it makes it more exciting as a historian because you’re not just going over the same ground someone else has gone over before,” Romney added.

Romney will be showing images and documents from her research at the March 4 lecture. Her lecture billed “Finding of the Women in the Atlantic World: Adventures in Archives,” will include how historians have put together the lives and actions of people who did not leave hardly any documents. She will also be discussing how she conducted the research to get the records of the people who did not hold much power in early day America.

The professor said she was able to show the role of women through “traces of what they did through interactions with others as part of their families,” as women played an important role in building the family.

She found documents on a colonial woman named Sara Kierstede, who married at 14 years old. Her duties were not only limited to managing the house and her 10 children, but buying food as well. Therefore, Kierstede had to interact with the Indians because that is how the colonists received lot of their fish and corn. During the course of her interaction, she became fluent in the Indian language. Later, she became a translator for the colony and during times of war.

“Through her ordinary life, she actually ended up playing this really important role in establishing this relationship between Indians and settlers,” Romney said.

For Romney’s next project, she wants to expand her knowledge with the Dutch and look at the colony that later became New York.
Her book has won two awards: the 2013 Hendricks Award and the 2013 Jamestown Prize.

“Evenings with History” lectures are held on the first Tuesday of each month at the Ottenheimer Auditorium in the Historic Arkansas Museum in downtown Little Rock. Refreshments are served at 7 p.m. and lecture begins at 7:30 p.m.


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