Student receives history award for paper on colonial New Jersey
Rebecca Russo is a secondary education and history major.
The New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance (NJSIAA) presented Rebecca Russo, a secondary education and history major, as the recipient of the 2013 Paul A. Stellhorn Award Undergraduate New Jersey History Award, for her paper “‘Not Having the Fear of God Before Her Eyes’: Infanticide in Colonial New Jersey.” Dr. Brooke Hunter, associate professor of history, nominated her for the award.
“I was thrilled when Rebecca expressed interest in exploring further the topic of sex and law in early America covered in my historiography seminar,” Hunter says. “I encouraged her to do a local study because New Jersey is a surprisingly understudied area and I knew nothing had been written on this particular subject and that excellent court records existed close by in Trenton. It was wonderful to share the excitement of someone working with original manuscript material in an archive for the first time. I am so proud of her paper. This was a special experience for both of us.”
In praising Russo’s paper, one reviewer wrote that she had “addressed a neglected area, and it genuinely adds something new. The author not only explored the issue of infanticide in colonial New Jersey in greater depth than any previous study, but she also offered plausible explanations of why laws on the subject developed as they did and why verdicts emerged in patterns. This is the best analysis we have seen in this year’s competition — and one of the best we have seen since the award was established.”
Russo submitted her paper for the award in June. “In October, when I found out I was selected, I was very surprised and extremely excited,” she says. “Last semester I worked very hard on this paper and did not expect to receive such a wonderful honor. I could not have done this without Dr. Hunter’s guidance. She was there to assist me every step of the way and accompanied me during my research at the state archives and helped me figure out where to look next.”
The Stellhorn Award commemorates the late New Jersey historian Paul A. Stellhorn, whose career included work with the NJHC, the New Jersey Committee (now Council) for the Humanities, and the Newark Public Library. He was especially noted for fostering the work of younger New Jersey historians. The NJSAA, the NJHC, Rutgers University Libraries, the New Jersey Caucus of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, and the New Jersey Council for History Education sponsor the Stellhorn Award.