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History Majors Win Library Research Awards

Written by Michael Rouleau

library research award winners in front of judges.JPG

Willimantic, Conn. - The winners of the 2014 Library Research Awards at Eastern Connecticut State University have been announced. Emily Komornik, a sophomore from Shelton double-majoring in history and English, won the underclassman award for her research paper titled "Jonathan Edwards: Conversion through Fear." The upperclassman award was given to Shannon Williamson, a senior from Baltic majoring in history, for her research paper titled "Choosing an Ethnic Group to Target: The Case of the Jewish Minority in Interwar Poland."

Entries were judged by a panel of librarians and faculty. Evidence of research strategy, process, use of library resources and personal learning were taken into consideration. "If there are no deserving research projects in a given year, the awards may not be given," warned the panel prior to judging. In the end, the panel was impressed.

Komornik's paper, titled "Jonathan Edwards: Conversion through Fear," is about "The Great Awakening," a radical Christian movement of the 1700s. Led by Rev. Jonathan Edwards, The Great Awakening emerged to counter "The Enlightenment," a mindset focused on reason and logic rather than devotion to god.
The Great Awakening presented a radical change in preaching styles among New England ministers. In an effort to scare people into compliance or conversion, "Sermons became threatening and involved horrifying messages of eternal damnation for those who did not believe in the Christian God," Komornik wrote.

Williamson's paper, titled "Choosing an Ethnic Group to Target: The Case of the Jewish Minority in Interwar Poland," addresses why the Jews of Interwar Poland (early 1900s), a country full of ethnic minorities, were the most persecuted. "I was intrigued about why certain groups were targeted over other ethnic groups," Williamson said.

The 26-page paper delves into the numerous reasons why Jews were at odds with the Poles and other minority groups of Interwar Poland--Belarusians, Ukrainians and Germans. Among the reasons, Williamson suggests, were the Jews' lack of support from an established "mother country," their economic tendency to work in urban areas rather than live a peasant lifestyle, and their following of Judaism instead of Christianity.
Students were also judged on a reflection essay that went behind the scenes of their research. "Before this project, I had never utilized the J. Eugene Smith Library in such an extensive way," said Komornik. "Of course I've taken out books before, but never had I used the library's online databases, which enabled me to easily find enough resources for my research."

Williamson also spoke highly of the library. "The library was incredibly beneficial in my quest to create my research paper," she said. "In addition to using the databases, a trick I learned is to browse the bibliographies of effective books to find more related books."

Both research papers and reflection essays can be viewed at:

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