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Diane Owen Hughes Scholars

This MEMS endowment, established to honor the scholarship, teaching, and mentorship of Professor Emerita Diane Owen Hughes, is used exclusively to support graduate research and travel. Recipients of these funds will be known as Diane Owen Hughes Scholars.

In 2019 MEMS was pleased to award two Diane Owen Hughes scholarships, to Hayley Bowman and Taylor Sims.

Project: Powerful Women Religious in Fifteenth-Century Spain

In summer 2019 Hayley Bowman conducted research at the Convento de la Concepción in Ágreda, Spain, where she worked in the convent’s locutorio under the supervision of Abbess Hna. Vianney Maria and archivist Hna. Maria Luz. She viewed and photographed over 4,000 manuscript pages of primary materials around the key figure in her dissertation project, Sor María de Ágreda (1602-1665), who corresponded with King Philip IV and other members of the Spanish royal family, as well as important religious and political figures and other religious women in convents in Borja and Madrid.

Besides Sor María’s copious correspondence, Hayley transcribed official and administrative documents, financial documents written and annotated by Sor María in her role as Abbess, including a seventeenth-century copy of her unfinished account of her own life, which details her own experience and family history.

The space of the convent is also important material evidence and in addition to working in situ, Hayley supplemented with a copy of architectural plans for the building (the originals being too fragile) along with the chronicle of construction and financial issues, also in Sor María’s own hand.

In addition, she attended a local screening of Texas before the Alamo, an independent short film that features scenes shot in both the convent and the childhood home of Sor María de Jesús de Ágreda. She met with and spoke to the film’s director and actors while attending the event at Ágreda’s community center. 

Project: Lay Women in Reformation England

Taylor Sims conducted core archival research in three county record offices in the UK for her dissertation on women’s lay piety across religious traditions in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Dorset History Centre, the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, and the Berkshire Record Office are all situated within the medieval boundaries of the Diocese of Salisbury, and their records shed light on lay women’s navigation of religious continuity and change over the period conventionally called the Reformation.

In Dorset, Taylor began with churchwarden’s accounts and act books, then moved on to transcribing and photographing several collections in Wiltshire, especially sixteenth-century visitation presentments (simple reports to the dean on the physical and moral state of the parish), and finally she looked at archdeaconry and local parish records in Berkshire.  Across the three archives, Taylor worked with stellar archivists and staff, making her research trip both efficient and enjoyable.

In addition she visited several towns and parish churches where her subjects would have lived, worked and worshipped. Spending time in these places allowed Taylor to connect the individuals and groups preserved in the manuscripts to their dynamic local contexts and place the day-to-day developments in parish communities within the broader cultural context of the English Reformation, addressing its local precursors and repercussions.

2018 Award

Kate Waggoner-Karchner

Project: "Finding the Right Sources on Church history"

In summer 2018 Kate Waggoner-Karchner (History) completed a research trip to Spain where she visited Oviedo, Salamanca, and Toledo to view and potentially photograph three manuscripts. The first manuscript, held at the Oviedo cathedral, is a key part of a dissertation chapter on challenges the Church faced in the fifteenth century. Kate was able to meet with the archivist and study the manuscript and the archive’s catalog, which is unpublished. She was able to confirm the manuscript's origin and that several of the texts in it directly relate to her topic. After taking notes on the features of the manuscript and some of the marginalia, the archivist allowed her to photograph the key text in its entirety, as well as several marginal notes from other texts and watermarks.

Then on to Salamanca, where she met with her advisor, Ryan Szpiech, who was teaching in Granada, and several Salamanca professors, including one who personally held a second manuscript she was interested in seeing. She was allowed to photograph the entire manuscript, which has never before been studied. After carefully going through the photographs and labeling everything, she identified a missing folio, which she was able to confirm on the second day, along with several other minor features, so she now has comprehensive notes for future use. While this document’s features and contents do not fit directly into her dissertation topics she plans to write up a short notice about it for one of several appropriate journals on medieval manuscripts.

Finally, in Toledo she met with one of the cathedral archivists and was able to identify the third manuscript (the old catalog did not have the most recent shelf-markings) and study that item in situ. She confirmed not only that this was a copy of Contra legem that scholars had not previously identified, but that it was created in the same context as the manuscript in Oviedo (making it another critical source for her chapter on the Church). She plans to include it in her write-up on new copies of Contra legem for publication.

2017 Award

Ana Silva

Project: “Roots in Stone and Slavery: Rootedness, Mobility, and Empire in 17th Century Cartagena de Indias”

The second Diane Owen Hughes Scholar, Ana María Silva (History), spent the month of June conducting research at the Archivo General de Indias (AGI) in Seville and the Archivo Histórico Nacional (AHN) in Madrid, Spain. In Seville, she read and transcribed manuscript lawsuits, correspondence, administrative reports, and petitions sent from the Caribbean port city of Cartagena de Indias to the King of Spain and the Council of the Indies during the seventeenth century. She focused on archival records related to local conflicts about the urban organization of this Spanish colonial city, especially with respect to the location of nuisance industries, such as tanneries, and the people who lived near them.

At the Archivo Histórico Nacional, she continued to study the formation of Cartagena’s urban and social geographies, this time by looking at the financial archives of a tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition located in that city. Specifically, she examined the Inquisition’s records about property that the tribunal confiscated from supposed heretics, especially real estate. Based on this data, she will analyze the impact that the Inquisition’s confiscation practices had on specific neighborhoods and communities in Cartagena, especially among women of African descent.

Both in Seville and in Madrid, she visited museums and libraries, including the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Museum at the Archivo General de Indias, and the Museo de Historia de Madrid, where she explored collections that she might use in future projects.

Back in Michigan, Ana is finishing the last two chapters of her dissertation.

2016 Award

Alice with clergy at Tazlau Monastery, Moldavia, Romania

Project: “The Painted Fortified Monastic Churches of Moldavia: Bastions of Orthodoxy in a Post-Byzantine World”

Alice Isabella Sullivan (History of Art), the first Diane Owen Hughes Scholar, spent four weeks in Europe this past May for research and study, first visiting Vienna to examine fifteenth and sixteenth-century Moldavian manuscripts housed in the Austrian National Library, and then visiting medieval monasteries in Romania (at Pătrăuţi, Putna, Moldoviţa, Probota, Voroneţ, and Suceviţa). She examined icons, embroideries, metalwork and other manuscripts from the monastic collections at Putna, Moldoviţa, and Suceviţa.

At Putna, she studied key liturgical books and tetraevangelia from the reign of Stephen III (Stephen the Great, 1457-1504) and worked with monks and priests there, making useful contacts for future engagement with the Stephen the Great Research and Documentation Center, which organizes a yearly conference on medieval and early modern Moldavian history and culture. She also met and discussed her work with Romanian historians from the University of Alexandru Ioan Cuza in Iaşi.

At the moment, she is finishing up the last two chapters of her dissertation on developments in monastic church architecture in Moldavia, as well as on the iconographic programs of select churches that took on a new visual rhetoric in the decades following the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in 1453.