The 2018 Theodore Roosevelt American History Award was won by Megan Griffiths, a graduate student at Leiden University, for her thesis "Radicals, Conservatives, and the Salem Witchcraft Crisis: Exploiting the Fragile Communities of Colonial New England"
Since 1987 the Roosevelt Study Center presented the yearly Theodore Roosevelt American History Award (TRAHA) to the best thesis on American history defended at Dutch universities. The TRAHA is designed to stimulate the study of United States history and culture, as well as encourage students to use the unique archival resources at the RIAS. This year the TRAHA has been sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, the United States Embassy in the Netherlands, and the Province of Zeeland. It was also the first occasion on which the prize was co-sponsored by Elsevier Weekblad, which presented its own prize to the winner. The jury consisted of Dr. Cees Heere (RIAS), Dr. Roel van den Oever (VU), Dr. Laura Visser-Maessen (Radboud University Nijmegen), and Renee de Groot (TRAHA winner 2017).
Griffiths' thesis emerged from a highly competitive field, yet stood out for the persuasiveness of her argument, her command of the source material, and the clarity of her writing. The jury praised the extraordinarly ambitious character of her thesis, which sought to offer an original interpretation to one of the most notorious episodes in the history of colonial North America. The jury also awarded an honorary mention to Heleen Blommers, for her thesis "From a War on Poverty to a War on the Poor: How Poverty Programs Caused Resentment, 1964-1968." The full jury report can be read here.
The prize consists of a bust of Theodore Roosevelt, and a visit to Roosevelt's old ranching-grounds in North Dakota. The latter part of the prize is sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving Roosevelt's legacy in North Dakota Badlands and the town of Medora. For Megan Griffiths, it was a 'town of American stories,' with an 'unusual quality that's hard to explain'. For a full report of her travels, see here.
The jury members Dr. Cees Heere and Dr. Laura Visser-Maessen with Megan Griffiths (l) and Heleen Blommers (r)
Megan Griffiths (l) and Heleen Blommers (r) with chief editor of Elsevier Weekblad, Arendo Joustra