Alan Creager’s fascination with World War II began in third grade, when he read a National Geographic article about the Battle of Midway.
His interest in what is sometimes called “The War Against Hitler” has only deepened since then, and this year it led the Longwood University history major deep into the archives of several college newspapers. His quest? The answer to a question that had been tickling his scholarly curiosity: What did American college students know in the late 1930s about Hitler’s ultimate objectives and when did they know it?
“The articles I read were not just insightful but almost prophetic,” said Creager ’18, who plans to teach history. “The consensus was that this [Hitler’s aggression] is going somewhere, and it’s not going somewhere good. I was impressed that, despite isolationist sentiment and even before the war started, students were paying attention to, and cared about, foreign events.”
Creager’s research is just one of more than 50 research projects across disciplines that will be featured April 26 during a day devoted entirely to student research. Classes will be canceled, allowing students to present their work and to find out about the important questions their fellow Lancers have been trying to answer this year.
I want students who attend this to think, "I could do that."Dr. Crystal Anderson, director of the Office of Student Research and organizer of the Spring Presentation of Undergraduate Research (SPUR)
“Many students hear about research but think, ‘I could never do that.’ I want students who attend this to think, ‘I could do that,’” said Dr. Crystal Anderson, director of the Office of Student Research and organizer of the Spring Presentation of Undergraduate Research (SPUR).
The event kicks off at 8 a.m., when PowerPoint presentations of an estimated 50-60 student research projects will become available on the Office of Student Research’s account on SlideShare, a slide hosting service. At 1 p.m., a panel discussion on “World War II, the Holocaust and the American Press” will feature Creager and two other students—Mary Zell Galen ’18 and Maeve Losen ’18—whose research was part of a historical methods class last fall taught by Dr. Melissa Kravetz.
In his project, Creager perused the digital archives of student newspapers at four Virginia colleges, including Longwood, to see how they reacted to Nazi Germany’s 1938 annexation of Austria, a fateful step on the road to World War II.
Four newspaper articles that Creager found in his research were uploaded to, and accepted by, the “History Unfolded” website, a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum crowdsourcing project in which “citizen historians” are documenting how newspapers in the 1930s and the 1940s reported on Nazi persecution.
SPUR also will include an informal “meet and greet” session from 2-4 p.m. where students will talk about aspects of the research process, including how they became interested in research and what they enjoy about it. Copies of each project’s abstract—required to be written in layman’s terms—will be available online on the Office of Student Research’s website.
Projects will be included from various research programs, including PRISM and CURIO. “We cast a wide net for research. Our target is the entire university,” said Anderson. “We accepted projects not only from the STEM disciplines but also from sociology, psychology, nursing, business, and communication sciences and disorders. Students were invited to share research-in-progress, research from poster sessions and scholarship events, and course-based research projects.” The presentations will be archived in Longwood’s Digital Commons.
At the event, social media engagement generated by researchers will be tallied, with the top five students receiving a SPUR swag bag. Attendees also will be eligible for a swag bag based on their social media engagement.
The undergraduate student research day, which will become an annual event, evolved from Longwood’s Quality Enhancement Plan.