MOBILE, Ala. – Historians far and wide dream of getting published within their lifetime. That dream became a reality for two University of Mobile history students, Alyssa Cherry and Eliza Colbert Simmons. With the help of their professor, Dr. Matthew Downs, the young women were able to publish their encyclopedia entries in the Encyclopedia of Alabama in August.
As a way to practice historical research, students in Downs’s Alabama History class researched and wrote “encyclopedia articles” that would be suitable for the Encyclopedia of Alabama. Downs also encouraged students to pursue publication after the class. With his help, both Alyssa and Eliza journeyed to their publication dream.
“One of the goals for our upper-level history classes is to get our students thinking like historians and practicing the analytical research skills used by professional scholars,” said Downs, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of history.
The process for each student took about two months from start to finish. Once the articles were complete, they were sent to the Encyclopedia of Alabama for review. After a few minor changes, the entries were accepted. Later, copyright documents were signed and the entries were officially published.
“I told my students that one of the most rewarding experiences of publishing research comes when scholars see their publications cited in another publication. It demonstrates that we are all working together for a greater understanding of the past,” said Downs.
Alyssa Cherry’s Entry
“The longest part of the process was the writing for sure! It was very hard to find information on him so I had to do a lot of digging,” said Alyssa.
Alyssa’s entry was on Frederick George Bromberg, who was a state senator for Alabama and also served as a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1873–1875. Then, he became a lawyer in Mobile.
“I was super excited to write this paper knowing I had a chance of getting published,” Alyssa said. “When people think about historians, it is usually from research papers/dissertations that they had written. So, getting this published was the first step in becoming a true historian.”
Alyssa is entering her senior year at the university. Her year is full of papers and research projects as she finishes her degree. Later, she plans to go on to earn her master’s degree and one day write a dissertation.
Eliza Colbert Simmons’s Entry
Eliza’s entry was on Louis Washington Turpin. Turpin represented Alabama in the U.S. Congress as a member of the Democratic Party in 1892. Turpin later retired and became a successful planter, just like his adoptive father.
“This project was a wonderful opportunity to see what it would be like to work as a historical researcher. It was a great experience that helped to solidify my love and appreciation for history,” said Eliza.
Eliza recently graduated in May 2022, married and moved to Louisiana. Currently, she is working at a financial advisory firm and settling into her new season of life.
UM History Department
The history department in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Mobile prepares students for a successful career in education, public service, preservation and many other fields. The faculty within the history department cares deeply about the students and aids them in finding their calling and passion, Downs said.
“Knowing the past can help us make sense of the present and plan for the future. That’s just one benefit of studying history,” he said.
The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered university with a vision of “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose,” founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions in an environment where they are known.
About the University of Mobile
The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered university offering on-campus and online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.
For information about the University of Mobile, areas of study, admissions and more, visit umobile.edu, connect with UM on social media @univofmobile, or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.