Senior History Major Suzanne Wright Wins National Award for Research Paper

When Framingham State History Professor Joseph Adelman read the 25-page paper on 18th Century Irish Immigration submitted by Suzanne Wright in his seminar class, he immediately knew it was something special and worthy of recognition. 

Tue Oct 9, 2018

When Framingham State History Professor Joseph Adelman read the 25-page paper on 18th Century Irish Immigration submitted by Suzanne Wright in his seminar class, he immediately knew it was something special and worthy of recognition.

“In the space of a single semester, Suzanne conducted research and wrote a professional-quality essay that makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Irish migration to the new United States and how Irish immigrants long in America interacted with more recent arrivals,” Adelman says.

He encouraged Wright to submit the paper, titled “From Immigrant Aid Society to Republican Organization: The Hibernian Society’s Evolution from 1790 to 1798,” for national award consideration. Recently, Wright learned that she is the recipient of the 2018 Nels Andrew Cleven Founder’s Prize by Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society.

“It’s exciting to receive this recognition for writing about a topic that I am really passionate about,” says Wright, who is a History major with minors in Irish Studies, Museum Studies, and Business, as well as a member of the Commonwealth Honors Program.

Her paper looks at the Hibernian Society for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland, which was established in 1790 as an organization that assisted recent immigrants with the day-to-day activities of assimilating into the country. By studying records of the organization over a period of 8 years, she found that its mission changed over time, and the group began focusing on pushing immigrants into Republican politics.

“It was interesting to see how immigrants who already came over to the United States were trying to help new arrivals, which is really heartening,” Wright says. “But you also see how over time, the society’s leadership uses this new population for political gain.”

Wright received $400 as her award for winning the 2018 Nels Andrew Cleven Founder’s Prize, which recognizes “superior papers submitted by student members of Phi Alpha Theta.”

Wright says she has loved her time at Framingham State, which has included a Study Abroad trip to Ireland that helped cement her passion for Irish history. She is currently an intern for the Moon Landing in Context, a 15-month series of events under the director of Dr. Irene Porro, executive director of Framingham State’s McAuliffe Center that seeks to contextualize the Moon Landing within the historical, social, and cultural framework of the Sixties.

“The project shows how you can integrate the arts and humanities with the STEM fields,” says Wright. “I couldn’t see myself getting all these opportunities at any other university, especially because of FSU’s connection as a Smithsonian Affiliate.”

After she graduates this spring, Wright is torn between focusing on Irish Studies or Museum Studies, but she intends to pursue a graduate degree, possibly in Ireland.

“My ultimate goal would be working in museum education,” she says. “I love teaching but not in a classroom. I am a firm believer in learning that takes place outside of the classroom, where you can go and see history up close.”