Undergraduate Research Assistantship Program in History

Applications for AY 2022-23 is now closed. Please check in September 2023 for the next application cycle.

The History Department is offering several paid research opportunities for Stanford undergraduates to work on a faculty-led research project over the 2023 Winter and Spring quarters. Student research assistants (RA) will work directly with a faculty member on their current research, gaining significant experience in developing a research project, identifying and pursuing research leads, and delivering tangible, meaningful reports.  RAs will meet regularly with the faculty mentor for guidance, feedback, and discussion. The research experience will culminate in a research presentation by the student and faculty at the end of the academic year. RAs will be expected to work eight to ten hours per week, and will be compensated $18 per hour.

RAs do not need to be History majors, but they must have taken at least one History department course. No research experience or specialized skills are necessary unless noted in the project descriptions below.

Interested Stanford undergraduates should submit (1) a paragraph outlining their interest in participating in a research assistantship and listing the History course(s) taken, and (2) a CV, indicating any background experience or language skills they may wish to highlight. Applicants may choose to indicate up to 3 projects from the descriptions below for which they wish to be considered.

Submit the paragraph, CV, and possible projects via this application form by 5:00pm November 18, 2022.  Contact Kai Dowding (kdowding [at] stanford.edu (kdowding[at]stanford[dot]edu)) with any questions.

AY 2022-23 Projects:

Stalin's Terror, 1930-1939 

Faculty Mentor: Norman Naimark

Research Assistant: Andrew Kelmanson 

Project: This project focuses on what Russians call the "repressions" of the Stalin period of rule in the Soviet Union, 1930-39. The great Hoover scholar, Robert Conquest, was the first major historian to tackle this subject as a whole. 

Research Tasks: The RA will reconstruct the major episodes of the period, when possible using primary documents, in the Hoover Archives or published. Students with a reading knowledge of Russian and/or Ukrainian will be given preference. But there is much English-language material to be examined, as well. The final product will be a comprehensive book on the subject.


Senegal Liberations Project

Faculty Mentor: Richard Roberts

Research Assistant: Becca De Los Santos

Project: The Senegal Liberations Project (SLP) will make the 28,421 stories of enslaved Africans who sought their own liberation in Senegal from 1857-1903 accessible through a public-facing website. This project builds on the Slave Voyages Database, which from the late 1990s transformed the study of the trans-Atlantic slave, but it left out evidence of slavery and the slave trade within Africa supplying African demand.  The Slave Voyages Database also left out important questions about how slavery ended and what the end of slavery meant in different areas.  SLP focuses on one region in West Africa –the wider Senegambian region– during the second half of the nineteenth century as colonial authorities struggled with whether and how to end the slave trade and slavery.  Most significant for humanistic research is what the project tells us about the four primary paths out of slavery: owners offered manumission to individual enslaved people; legal emancipation (abolition) was a state decree that formally ended enslavement;  enslaved people on ships were liberated by naval squadrons imposing treaties that prohibited the slave trade and placed in periods of apprenticeship;  and enslaved people sought their own freedom through self-purchase, through the courts, or by fleeing to spaces where slavery was outlawed.  Almost all the enslaved people in these Senegal liberation registers walked away from their owners and actively sought their own freedom. SLP will provide a significant and unique window into the enslaved people who sought their liberation during a period when the slave trade and slavery gradually ended. By contributing to the global histories of slavery and freedom, the SLP will provide researchers and teachers with access to a rare primary source, an accessible body of data of the enslaved people who sought their own liberation, and robust historical context to enable scholars, students, and teachers to use these data for scholarly and pedagogical purposes. The SLP works in close collaboration with faculty and students in Senegal. 

Research Tasks: The RA for this project will work closely with faculty and will be involved in four aspects of this project:  entering demographic information (age, sex, place of birth) and names of enslaved people into Excel sheets from digital copies of the original liberation registers;  building a public-facing website making the original documents and the coded information widely available;  working with high school and community college teachers to develop curriculum drawn from this body of evidence;  co-authoring with Stanford faculty publishable analysis drawn from the project.  Basic familiarity with French and Excel is helpful;  web design skills are most welcome.


Research Assistance for “Doing Colonial History”

Faculty Mentor: Jun Uchida  

Research Assistants: Malavika Kannan and Ethan Strombeck 

Project: Professor Uchida would like to hire a research assistant in preparation for a new “Doing Colonial History” class she will offer in spring 2023. Given the comparative and global scope, Professor Uchida seeks help with finding relevant primary (and some secondary) sources on colonial Africa, America, etc. 

Research Tasks: The RA will work with archivists (such as Ben Stone for guidance on the British empire) and Hoover Libraries, the David Rumsey Map Center and Brenner library for locating a variety of textual and visual material relevant and potentially useful for assigning in the course.


Mapping Nueva York

Faculty Mentor: Pedro Regalado  

Research Assistant: Aliana Arzola 

Project: This research project is part of a larger endeavor to create a digitized, interactive map of Latinx businesses in New York City for the years 1934 and 1964. To do so, Professor Regalado has acquired two Latinx “yellow” pages for each of those two years.

Research Tasks: The goal for the research assistant would be to create a dataset of the 1934 book that would include business name, address, and type. However, Professor Regalado would also like to think with the student about how such a task could lend itself to research about advertisements, culture, business clusterings, etc that they may find interesting as it relates to Latinx migration and community-building. The only required skill is Spanish proficiency since the book is in Spanish. It would also be helpful to have some familiarity with Microsoft Excel.


Priests' Wives and Concubines in the Medieval West

Faculty Mentor: Fiona Griffiths  

Research Assistant: Claire Zhao

Project: This project focuses on women married to or living with priests from the early ninth century to the end of the twelfth century. By the end of this period, celibacy was largely established as an expectation for priests (even if clerical continence was never absolute). Professor Griffiths is primarily focused on southern Germany, where records for gifts of property often reveal evidence for "presbiterae" (the female form of priest - usually meaning the priest's wife, although sometimes possibly also the "priestess"). Professor Griffiths is interested in what role these women played in their communities, their patronage of local monasteries, and their social background (although this information is elusive).

Research Tasks: A research assistant working on this project might help to read through canon law on marriage (in English translation), compile records of identified priests' wives and related bibliography, or read source materials in original languages (Latin, French, or German would be helpful, although not totally necessary). Database experience could also be useful.