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History

A Musical Melting Pot - Irving Berlin, Culture, and Melody in Early 20th Century New York

Maya Simpson ('10); Helena Wall

In the early 20th century, New York City developed into a diverse metropolis full of cultures constantly interacting. As a result of African American emigration, jazz entered the geographic heart of American popular culture and Jewish composers took the new music to great heights. As society demeaned African American influence in the music, many, including composers themselves, praised the ability of Jewish musicians to take the art and elevate it to a new, highbrow form. Jazz allowed these “ethnic Europeans” to redefine the concept of “American”, as composers created the musical masterpieces of the 1910s and 20s that remain symbols of American identity today. One prime example of this is the subject of my poster, Irving Berlin, whose contribution to American culture cannot be denied. My research shows that Berlin not only helped define his society, but also pushed for Jewish interests at the expense of African American artists.
Funding provided by: Hart Institute for American History

King Philip's War: The Causes of America's Deadliest Conflict

Nicholas Tyack ('11); Char Miller; Helena Wall

King Philip’s War (1675-77), a bloody struggle between colonists and their native neighbors, was, per- capita, the deadliest war in American history. Perhaps the most significant casualty of the fighting was the prewar peaceful coexistence that had prevailed between colonists and Ninnimissinuok (a general name for southern New England’s native peoples) before hostilities erupted. I researched how and why the multicultural society of southern New England fell apart, and also how scholars have analyzed the war, its causes and ramifications. While earlier writers contended that the conflict was the inevitable result of the savagery or perfidy of the Ninnimissinuok, or was due to differences between the European and Native American ways of life, I found instead that the war became unavoidable only when colonial officials started treating the native peoples not as valuable allies but as untrustworthy subjects, making successful negotiation of disputes over land and livestock almost impossible.
Funding provided by: Hart Institute for American History

Research at Pomona