Gilder Lehrman History Scholar
Hannah Riordan (center), a recent graduate from Auburn University, received one of 15 History Scholar Awards given each year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
The essay that Riordan submitted was the introduction to her undergraduate thesis. In it, she explored the role of Winston County, Alabama during the American Civil War. Unionists there attempted to secede from Confederate Alabama and remain neutral throughout the war. “I find the Civil War particularly interesting because it was such a pivotal moment in American history,” says Riordan, “Essentially, the Civil War was a revolution – it reshaped and defined American society to what it is today.” Riordan, a native of Cornwall, Ontario, believed she would have to give up Canadian studies when she moved to the United States, but now marvels at how interconnected Canadian and American histories are.
The award recognizes graduating college seniors, and selection is based on grades, letters of recommendation, and writing samples. To future applicants for the History Scholar Award, Riordan emphasizes the importance of extracurricular activities: “Most of the award recipients have been involved in activities such as historical preservation or public history, so some sort of community involvement will give your application an edge.” Read the official press release here.