National Historic Landmark nomination by Public Humanities MA Students unanimously approved in Washington DC

Anni Pullagura and Sarah Dylla, students in the MA in Public Humanities program (Pullagura is also studying for a PhD in American Studies), scored a big victory in Washington DC last month by sharing the results of course research with the National Park Service and, in the process, helping to diversify our national heritage.  The Public Humanities MA program is housed at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. 

The students presented a nomination for a National Historic Landmark designation for the Steward's House, Foreign Mission School, CT as part of the National Park Service’s initiative to “to extend its reach to reflect a full spectrum of people and events that participated in building the nation.”   Pullagura and Dylla represented their fellow students in a recent American Studies and Public Humanities course, “Whose Heritage? National Landmarks for Diverse Public,” taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of American Studies, Caroline Frank. 

In the Spring semester of 2015, Professor Frank and her class of 11 graduate and undergraduate American Studies and Public Humanities students researched and began to write a National Historic Landmark nomination for an 1814 house in Cornwall, Connecticut that had been one of three buildings associated with the Foreign Mission School.  The Congregationalist school operated from 1816-1827 enrolling over a hundred young men from all over the world, but primarily from the Asia-Pacific and Native America. They were sailors or sons of tribal leaders, and many arrived destitute in Connecticut.

On November 16, 2015, five months from the end of the class, Anni Pullagura and Sarah Dylla presented a 65-page, document to the National Park Service Advisory Board, and it was unanimously approved.  Referees were astonished by the fascinating history of international students living in New England at such an early date. 

Professor Frank writes, ‘We want to thank the Cornwall Historical Society and the owners of the “Steward’s House” for opening their doors and archives to us during the snowy days of March, 2015—for the warm welcome, warm stoves, tea, and pastries.  They remarked that our class was as diverse as the Foreign Mission School, with students representing several regions of Asia and the Americas.  We must also thank several NPS historians who guided us through the intricacies of an NHL nomination, while leaving us ample room to narrate the school’s history in the way we thought best.”

You can see the National Historic Landmark’s nomination here and the Executive Summary here

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