Apr 04, 2024
Olivia Boudreau

Adam Ide ’24 and Professor John Bell Present Research at Southern History of Education Society Conference

Last month, Adam Ide ‘24 and Assistant Professor of History John Bell, traveled to Columbia, South Carolina to present their research on emancipation and education at the Southern History of Education Society (SHOES) Conference. The conference, co-hosted by Allen University and the University of South Carolina, was held from March 14-16 with the overarching theme of “Education and Reconstruction”.

Entitled “There In Black and White: The Periodicals of Freed People’s Education,” the paper Bell and Ide presented was a collaboration based on the Summer Honors Fellowship Ide received through Assumption’s Honors Program. Along with help from the Honors Program to fund the research, the Office of Undergraduate Studies assisted in getting Ide, a History and Middle Secondary Education major, to the conference to present.

Bell and Ide worked together throughout the summer of 2023 at the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) looking through periodicals published by northern freedmen’s aid societies during and after the Civil War. Their work began as an exploration of Black teachers’ and students’ ideas and experiences as documented in the periodicals.

“My broad research area is race, education, and African American history,” said Bell. “I was interested, for this project, in looking more specifically at Black teachers and Black students to understand the relationship between emancipation and Black educational thought.”

“I went to the American Antiquarian Society every week from June to the end of August,” said Ide. “I collected a lot of information, but even going every single day for that amount of time, we couldn’t get all the information that they had. It was a painstaking process, to say the least, but I did enjoy it, and I had a great environment to do the research in.”

Upon analyzing their findings, Bell and Ide discovered that their work exposed gaps in the existing scholarly literature about freedmen’s aid societies.

“Our research transformed based on what we found at the AAS,” Ide said. “What we actually ended up presenting was more about using the periodicals to analyze the differences and similarities between the different Freedman’s Aid Organizations, as a lot of times they get lumped together when being written about by historians.”

Adam Ide '24 and Professor John Bell at the SHOES Conference, with the logo.
Adam Ide ’24 and Professor John Bell with the SHOES Conference logo.

Ide was one of only two undergraduate presenters, and the conference afforded many opportunities to make connections, view presentations, and meet distinguished historians.

“It was a really unique and exciting opportunity,” said Ide. “I got to not only present our research, but also listen to so many people in the field present their research and to have a lot of discussions with them about their journeys and how they got to the point they’re at now. I talked about research with master’s students, doctoral students, current professors, and former professors.”

Bell also had a unique experience with this research. Not only was he able to conduct the work with another person, but he was able to collaborate with a student whom he has taught since his freshman year at the University.

“In the humanities, research is usually a very lonely process. It has been fun and satisfying to work with someone else,” said Bell. “The other thing that was hugely gratifying was watching Adam go from the classroom to the archive to this conference…it’s a quantum leap. I conceived the project initially, but it has come to life because of the research Adam did. And we are just getting started!”