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UMD Libraries announce the recipients of the 2024 Library Awards for Undergraduate Research and the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Award

drawing of a trophy with the text: Library Award for Undergraduate Research

The University of Maryland Libraries is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2024 Library Awards for Undergraduate Research.  This year’s Library Award for Undergraduate Research is Mason Yang, class of 2025 majoring in history. Julia Grafstein, class of 2024, also studying history, is the recipient of the Libraries’ Award for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) research.

The Library Award for Undergraduate Research and IDEA Award competition is open to all currently enrolled undergraduates. Each year, awards of $1,000 are issued to undergraduates whose work best demonstrates the value of using library services and information resources in research projects. The IDEA award seeks to recognize and empower students to explore diversity issues, educate themselves, and inspire others to advance social justice by embracing IDEA values in their research.

Julia Grafstein: 2024 Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Library Award Winner

Grafstein's award-winning research paper is entitled, “Alienation and Alliances: Transgender Coalition-Building from the 1970s through the 1990s."Julia Grafstein Headshot

Grafstein's submission is a research paper written for the History Honors Thesis program at the University of Maryland. Her submission explores coalition-building in the transgender movement which has received scant attention from scholars in history or gender studies. In an effort to understand trans activists' motivations and how they worked with others, this thesis analyzes the partnerships formed within the transgender community and with potential allies of the lesbian, gay, and feminist communities. Using archival records, magazines and newspapers, published reports, and oral histories, this thesis argues that trans activism in the period between 1970 and the end of the 1990s was multifarious, fractious and inconsistent. It also demonstrates that trans activists worked to build coalitions with potential allies in the women's movement and the gay and lesbian rights movement whenever possible. Such coalitions held the promise of greater influence and of shared values. Grafstein submitted only the introduction and my second chapter of a larger thesis.  The submission focuses on transgender coalition-building within the transgender community and gives insight into the internal struggles of a nascent movement.

Dr. Katarina Keane, who supported Grafstein’s application, writes "Julia examines the challenging, slow, contentious but ultimately successful work at building a trans rights movement in the late twentieth century. She is attuned to the subtle ways that trans activists were at odds but worked to find common ground and to advance rights and access to resources for their community. Julia’s papers offered an innovative and valuable contribution to the historical literature  on the women’s movement, the gay rights movement, and trans activism. As Robyn Muncy, the director of the department honors program noted, this was "a gutsy and  painful history to uncover."  

Mason Yang: Winner of the 2024 Library Award for Undergraduate Research

Yang's award-winning paper is entitled, “A Self-Portrait of Success: The Images of Jewish Masculinity in 1940s America.”Mason Yang headshot.

Written as a research paper for an independent study, Yang seeks to define what masculinity and success looked like to Jewish men in the mid-twentieth century. To do so, this paper examines New York Times obituaries throughout the 1940s and analyzes the content that prominent Jewish men had published about themselves. These obituaries represent the fulfillment of the Jewish male aspirations and what they wanted to be known for. Along with this, this paper also explores Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, a 1949 play that narrates the life and death of an “everyman.” While he strives to find success and fame for himself and his family, he fails to achieve the same aspirations as the men in the obituaries. Ultimately, this paper works to add complexity and new dialogue to the understanding of Jewish masculinity and also seeks to generate interest in comparatively working with both nonfiction and fiction primary printed sources.

Dr. Bernie Cooperman, who supported Yang’s application, writes "What made Mason’s paper stand out was not just the sophistication of the task he had set for  himself but also the next step.  Mason went looking for a literary source that could help him bring his newspaper accounts into focus. I intend to use his model and his research in creating library exercises for students in two of my  courses next year requiring all students to do a (more limited) newspaper search and analysis with reference to literary sources. If Mason could do it more or less on his own, I think students will be able to do it on a more limited scope and  with more direction and help."

Members of the 2024 Awards Jury were Patricia Kosco Cossard, Chair, University Libraries; Katy Lawly, Senior Lecturer and Faculty Director, Master of Information Management (MIM), CPIM, CIRPS, College of Information Studies; Eric Lindquist, History, American Studies, Classics, and Religion Librarian; Celina McDonald, Government Information & Criminology Libraria; Jordan Sly, Head of Humanities and Social Science Librarians, Anthropology, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Digital Humanities, and SLLC Librarian for German, Italian and French Studies, University Libraries.  These awards were funded by the generosity of the University of Maryland Libraries.

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