The Brown University Library is pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 Undergraduate Prize for Excellence in Library Research. Beatrice Selen Senocak ’15 was selected for her paper entitled “A Providence Affair.” Undertaken for Senior Lecturer in English Elizabeth Taylor’s class, Narrating History, Senocak’s paper employs creative non-fiction to tell the story of the delicate courtship of Sarah Helen Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe.
In her research, Senocak drew heavily on primary source documents including the papers of Sarah Helen Whitman in the John Hay Library and the online archives of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, which provided transcripts of the Whitman-Poe correspondence. She also scoured local libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies to discover details of the fashion, music, dancing, public transportation, etiquette, and architecture of the period in Providence to set the stage for her story. In addition, Senocak made use of Brown’s own online collections to discover digital images of original daguerreotype portraits of both Whitman and Poe.
As one of the judges observed, “This is an elegantly written essay about the relationship between Poe and Whitman that is based on a rich array of print and archival sources….She has transformed the sources in creative ways and drawn out a compelling story full of contextual details drawn from the meticulous research.”
In partnership with the Office of the Dean of the College, the Brown University Library sponsors the annual Undergraduate Research Prize, awarded each April. The purpose of the prize is to recognize excellence in undergraduate research projects that make creative and extensive use of the Brown University Library’s collections including, but not limited to, print resources, databases, primary resources, and materials in all media. The project may take the form of a traditional paper, a database, a website, or other digital project. Please click here to visit the Prize’s webpage for more information.