Francis Butler '15

     This summer Francis Butler assisted Dr. Bruce Eelman, Associate Professor of History, on his book project concerning mob violence in response to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. After Lincoln was assassinated, riots occurred throughout the nation as supporters of Lincoln sought to punish those who spoke out against the former President during the war or those who celebrated his assassination. The team researched where they happened, who was involved, and what other reasons provoked the riots. Francis hopes to continue his research with Dr. Eelman during the school year and thinks they could have a paper written in time for the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA) conference in 2014. Francis finds the research process to be rewarding because it allows him to explore and ask and answer his own questions about the American Civil War in a hands-on way. In his research he was able to deeply investigate the lives of the people in which he was studying. Francis discovered that finding a reliable source is a challenge while completing historical research. He occasionally had to research the author of the newspaper article he was reading to decipher the bias behind the article. Francis recently presented in the 2013 NYSHA Conference with his paper titled “To Bleed for a Higher Cause: The Excelsior Brigade and the Civil War.”

     He found it to be a great experience because he was able to collaborate with several prominent scholars in the field of the Civil War Era Studies. He also made connections with scholars who agreed to help him as he undertakes his capstone experience. When speaking of his undergraduate research experience Francis said, “It allowed me to actually do what historians do and experience learning in a dynamic and unique way where I had agency over my work. I think that if more Siena students participated in undergraduate research it would allow them to develop their skills as research and thinkers and enable them to begin working in their desired field before graduation. I think this experience will be invaluable for me as I go on to graduate school and my career after graduation.”

 Lincoln Assassination Picture from commons.wikimedia.org