Judy and Ed Jelks with a group of former students, taken at the 2004 SHA meeting in St. Louis, where the travel award was first announced. Judy is in the wheelchair, with Ed standing behind her. Mike Wiant, kneeling on Judy’s left, led the effort to create the award.

The SHA has long included a significant number of student members at the outset of their careers, but attending conferences is logistically and financially challenging, so students and advisers have developed many different strategies to make conference attendance feasible.  Eager to attend the conference but compelled to save some money, many of us have stories of piling into our cars for a long drive to the conference; lots of students have been part of groups crammed into a single hotel room; and many groups migrate from the hotel restaurant to eat local fast food.  Edward and Judy Jelks spent their careers supporting scores of students on such journeys, encouraging them to attend and participate in the conference during Ed Jelks’ 1968-1983 tenure at Illinois State University, which followed a position at Southern Methodist University in 1965-1968.  Edward Jelks was John Cotter’s assistant in excavations at Jamestown, Virginia in 1954-1956 and one of the founders of the SHA, serving as the Society’s second President in 1968 and eventually receiving the JC Harrington Award in 1988.  For more than 30 years, beginning in the early 1950s, his wife Judy accompanied Jelks on numerous digs, helping plan field logistics, conducting various fieldwork tasks, reviewing manuscripts, and serving as, in her husband’s words, “a surrogate mother for scores of students over the years.”

The Ed and Judy Jelks Student Travel Award was established in 2004, when some of the Jelks’ former students, looking for a way to recognize the roles Ed and Judy had played in their education and professional development, approached the SHA with initial funds they had raised from former students and colleagues, and proposed that this be used as seed money to establish the award.  Every year beginning in 2005 two students have been awarded $500 each to attend the SHA annual meeting.  A list of the past recipients is included at this end of this posting.

This year we received 50 applications for the Jelks Travel Award, so the program is exceptionally popular and competitive.  Many universities have decreased their student travel support or simply eliminated it entirely, and other student funding like teaching assistantships has dried up, so the scant material support for student scholarship certainly encouraged student members to apply.  With Board Member Mark Warner I read 50 student paper abstracts and letters on their scholarship that included research representing nearly every corner of historical archaeology.  This was exciting but also difficult, because virtually all applicants thoughtfully outlined research projects that will make an important contribution to archaeological scholarship.

We selected Master’s student Corey McQuinn (University of Albany) for his paper “A Continuity of Heritage: Outreach, Education, and Archaeology at the Steven and Harriet Myers House, Albany, New York.”  Corey’s SHA paper will examine his work in Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood, where he is part of a project examining an Underground Railroad site in a mid-nineteenth-century African-American community.  McQuinn’s work focuses on a broad 170-year history of the site’s built environment, examining how Underground Railroad histories are wielded in archaeological analysis and public heritage discourses.

The second award winner was PhD candidate Adrian Myers (Stanford) for his paper “Dominant Narratives, Popular Assumptions, and Radical Reversals in the Archaeology of German Prisoners of War in a Canadian National Park.”  Myers’ research examines the Whitewater Prisoner of War Camp in Manitoba, Canada, where 450 German Afrika Korps soldiers were imprisoned during the Second World War. His SHA paper examines dominant narratives on the materiality of national parks, Nazi prisoner camps, and the complicated heritage in such contexts.

The awards will be presented at the Business Meeting at the conference in Baltimore.   In 2012 the Society is committed to further develop such scholarship programs that can support more student scholars’ conference attendance.  If you’re interested in contributing to that discussion or supporting such causes, do contact me.

For more on Edward Jelks’ career, see Robert Schuyler’s 2001 interview of Jelks in Historical Archaeology at http://www.jstor.org/pss/25616950 If you do not have JSTOR access, the paper is in Historical Archaeology 35(4)

See a list of previous Ed and Judy Jelks Travel Award Winners.


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