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Richters you should know: Evangeline Bero and Hakob Parsamyan

Evangeline Bero ’20 and Hakob Parsamyan ’20 are bringing the work of activist Jane Addams into the limelight one citation at a time. Together with Associate Professor of Politics James Marquardt, they are building a website that focuses on Addams’ international peace advocacy.

Q: Tell us about your project.

Bero: We are gathering data on Jane Addams, specifically about her peace advocacy and international involvement in World War I, and compiling all of that onto a website. We are looking at her world travels, conferences that she went to, and her relationships with U.S. presidents—Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, in particular.

Parsamyan: Both of us are responsible for finding data and looking at certain things that Jane Addams did during and after WWI. My job focuses on uploading data to the website and sorting data by periods. I’m working with Omeka and Neatline programs, which help us to build the website and display the data in a certain way. One of the things we’re going to do is create a timeline where visitors will be able to look for data by date. We also want to show a map that includes the places Addams travelled and what meetings she attended.

Bero: I’ve been finding the primary documents we will put on the page, from New York Times articles to essays that Jane Addams wrote. I’ve been going through all kinds of archives at the library. I also have been dealing with copyright issues and making sure we can use those articles. Luckily, everything before 1923 is in the public domain, so we’re allowed to use those articles and essays with no problems.

Q: What is the benefit of the website?

Parsamyan: We are creating a portal to information on Jane Addams’ peace activism. Our website will be very useful for students, specifically college students, who are doing projects on Jane Addams or want to learn more about her life. For example, we have included the citation for each source, so whenever a student uses something from our website there is already a pre-made citation for them. We don’t want students to be limited to our website, so the citations should help guide them to other sources. 

Bero: It’s certainly unique. This information, in some cases, has not been available on the internet before and is now integrated in a meaningful way. The website will be really handy for students who don’t have access to a large library or to cities with larger libraries. 

Q: What’s something that you’ve learned?

Parsamyan: As an Armenian, I’ve learned a lot, both about American politics and American history. I’ve started to break certain stereotypes I held about American politics and the U.S., in general.

Bero: I’ve been learning American history since kindergarten, but I’ve definitely learned that our history books don’t give Jane Addams enough credit. There are maybe three or four lines about Addams saying that she created Hull House and worked to make conditions better for poor people, but that’s it. That’s it! In my opinion, she’s just as important in a lot of cases as our presidents. People even told her that: “You should be president.” She told them: “I can’t even vote.” 

Q: What has been the most difficult part of the project?

Parsamyan: Finding articles. A lot of things get so specific that I only end up with two search results on Google, and neither of them are correct.

Bero: Some of the hardest things to find were actually the Congressional hearings that she testified at, whether it be about peace or arms reduction. I had to request them through Illiad

Q: How do you like working with a professor?

Bero: The difference is when you are in a class, the professor talks at you, but in a research project, the professor talks with you. So there’s a lot more give and take where they ask your opinion and you ask their opinion.

Parsamyan: In class, the syllabus is set, and you learn what the professor wants, but here it is very open and flexible.

Bero: Professor Marquardt is very knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. That makes the research easier, when I am going through tedious tasks. When I bring the work to him, he gets really excited. It helps to see someone who loves what they’re doing. It motivates you.

Parsamyan: It’s very easy to work with Professor Marquardt because he doesn’t overcomplicate things. He has a major plan and one goal, and he explained to us very well at the beginning of the summer what he would be asking of us, which is not what all professors will do. And he’s not limited to his opinion, he takes into account our opinions and suggestions.

Q: How will this experience help you in the future?

Bero: It’s definitely going to help me when it comes to researching in a more efficient way. I’ve gotten to know the library staff pretty well by being in there every day and asking them for help. It makes things a lot easier than trying to go at it alone. I’ve also gotten tragically good at making citations.

Parsamyan: Professor Marquardt is the chair of International Relations, and we are both interested in studying that, so hopefully if we need help in the future Professor Marquardt will be a useful resource.

–By Tracy Koenn and Sophie Mucciaccio