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ASU history alumna publishes research on Ohio women’s movements

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July 28, 2021

Less than a year after graduating with her master’s degree in history from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, alumna Harlee Rozell is publishing an article based on the research she conducted while a student at Arizona State University.

The Ohio History Journal will be publishing what ended up being Rozell’s capstone research project on the campaigns of the Ohio women's temperance movement and the Ohio women's suffrage movement.

“I realized that I had a lot of interest in historical silences,” said Rozell. “One thing I mentioned in my capstone is how underrepresented I had felt in (primary school) lessons on history and even my everyday reading as a queer woman growing up in a rural, Appalachian community in southern Ohio.”

Rozell had planned to study mostly European history while getting her online degree and decided to take a gender history course with Emeritus Professor of history Gayle Gullett.The course ended up being about U.S. women’s suffrage and although it wasn’t in line with Rozell’s focus, she remained in the class.

“I ended up absolutely loving it and my research,” said Rozell. “When we set about planning our topics, my first thought was something like ‘Well, if I have to do U.S. history, I might as well do Ohio since I live here and enjoy Ohio history.’ By the time I began writing my paper, I was more than enthralled with my topic and excited to share what I learned.”

Her research for this class became her master’s degree capstone project. She looked into how the two movements' similarities and shared goals caused cross-group contention and negative publicity for both, ultimately destroying their chances for state amendments in the mid-1800s.

“I was quite sad to see that very few sources discussed the relationship between suffragists and temperance women,” said Rozell. “And even less focused in Ohio, unfortunately.”

She says many historians who study women and gender history, including herself, can have difficulty finding resources for their research questions because sources dedicated to particular subjects in women’s history weren’t initiated into academic discourse until sometime in the 1960s and '70s.

“To me, this means that the study of women’s history is relatively new within the greater discipline,” said Rozell. “I cannot wait for the day that women and gender are so common in historical discourse that researchers can easily find secondary sources related to their topic to draw upon for their own research methods and questions, like they can for the masculine-facing, ‘ungendered’ population that many historians have spent literal centuries documenting and writing about.”

Despite the obstacles she faced when gathering sources, she was able to complete her paper and decided to continue her research after graduation.

“Something I love about ASU is that my access to the library database of resources has not ended even though I graduated more than six months ago,” said Rozell. “This has been a tremendous help and resource for me in revising my capstone research paper for publication.”

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology from Ohio University, she had published her undergraduate thesis focused on interwar Germany in Georgetown University's Journal of Undergraduate History Research. And although this publication is not the first for Rozell, she’s thankful for the skills she learned while at ASU. 

“Honestly, ASU prepared me for the entire process,” said Rozell. “Currently, I am finishing up the last round of revisions from a recent peer review and submitting my final draft in a few weeks for publication. The courses I took, especially those with an element of peer review and multiple draft revisions, made completing this possible for me.”

A few things she says students should keep in mind when submitting their research for publication is to have patience and to research the places you want to submit to, in order to see if your research is a good fit.

“It can take some time to get back to you,” said Rozell. “I first submitted this for publication in late December 2020 or early January 2021. Within a few days the editor responded that they were interested in my paper but wanted peer review feedback first. Several weeks later, I received peer reviews and a request to start revising, with a caveat that my paper was only under consideration for publication.

“It wasn’t until June 2021 that I finally heard back with peer reviews and was told that my revised article was officially selected for publication. The editor felt my research was important to the greater history of Ohio and that my work was strong enough to publish.”

For Rozell, her topic of research is important because it helps demystify women’s history. Her revised research seeks to show that these women were not very dissimilar in many of their goals, aspirations and even practices or campaigning methods, making them shared targets for entities that wished to stop one or both movements' success. 

“Something I loved about the ASU courses I took was how much my professors encouraged my interest in historical silences, or any of my peers’ interest in the aspects of history they gravitated towards,” said Rozell. “Even online, ASU fostered a culture of academic equity for all possible topics within the field of history that a student might be interested in.”

Rozell has moved from Ohio to Arizona since graduating from ASU and started a new position as a seventh and eighth grade social studies and English language arts teacher in a local charter school. She plans to start her master’s degree in education this fall at ASU.

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