On Friday, August 29, history major Veronica Ferreira gave a poster presentation on her summer research project, "Heroines and Harlots: The World War II Experiences of the 'She-Soldier.'" Veronica received $3000 from the UAHuntsville Research Experience for Undergraduates program to conduct her summer research under the direction of Dr. Stephen Waring.
In her research project, Veronica interpreted the oral interviews of 150 women veterans of World War II, available through the website of the Library of Congress. After listening to each interview, she created several graphs, dividing the women according to their responses to various questions. Among these were questions about treatment at the hands of servicemen, familial response to the decision to enlist, and whether or not they married while in service. Then, she compared their responses to existing scholarship on women in the military during the second world war in order to create the most accurate and complete depiction of what it was like to live as one of the first ‘she-soldiers’ in the US. She concluded that the common depiction of women is inaccurate, by demonstrating that in World War II, as today, there is no universal experience among women, even in the same occupation. There are some commonalities that emerge, but amidst more nuance and variation than scholarship typically claims.
According to Veronica, who currently plans to pursue a PhD in history, the REU program enabled her to experience the typical process of developing and refining a Master's Thesis. Rather than turning in a paper and receiving a grade, Veronica received extensive feedback from Dr. Waring on multiple drafts and made many revisions before preparing the final version. Veronica also learned to be more critical of her own work and of the scholarship she read during the research process. She is now considering submitting her paper for consideration for publication in a professional journal or presenting it an an academic conference.
We are very proud of Veronica's hard work and achievement, and we encourage other UAHuntsville history majors to consider the REU program, too.