Dr. Craig L. Symonds, professor of history emeritus at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, and Amber Morgan Gill, a lecturer for the MSU English Department and a PhD student in History, will be the featured speakers for the 2023 John F. and Jeanne A. Marszalek Lecture Series. The event, which is open to the public, will be held at 2 pm on Thursday, March 9, in the Templeton Music Museum in Mitchell Memorial Library.
Held each March, the Marszalek Lecture Series recognizes an MSU graduate student and an established, nationally known historian to bring attention to their works and to encourage the use of primary sources in historical research, according to David Nolen, Associate Dean for Archives and Special Collections.
"The purpose of the Marszalek Fund and Lecture Series is to encourage the use of primary sources in historical research," said Nolen. "The fund allows for the purchase of primary source materials that cover the Civil War and Reconstruction; Jacksonian America; and/or race relations. The lecture allows for a student researcher to present their research in an event that also features an established scholar speaking about their own research."
The title of Symonds' talk will be "Black Americans in the Second World War." Gill will speak on "The Fabric of Our Nation: A 19th Century Night Shirt Reveals the Complex Value of Material Objects."
Symonds taught at U.S. Naval Academy for 30 years and served as History Department Chair. From 2017 to 2020 he was the Ernest J. King Distinguished Professor of Maritime History at the U.S. Naval War College, in Newport, RI. He is a four-time recipient of the Federal Government's Superior Civilian Service Medal, and in 2014 he received the Dudley W. Knox Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Naval Historical Foundation.
He is the author of seventeen books, including Lincoln and His Admirals, which won the 2009 Lincoln Prize. His other Civil War era books include biographies of Joseph E. Johnston (1992), Patrick Cleburne (1997), and Franklin Buchanan (1999), as well as The Civil War at Sea (2009). His newest book is Nimitz at War: Command Leadership from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay (2022).
Gill received her B.A. in Art in 2010 from Jacksonville State University and her M.A. in English Literature in 2020 from Mississippi State University. She is currently a lecturer for the MSU English Department and is in her second year of coursework toward a History PhD here at MSU. Her research interests include 19th century popular culture, nationalism, and the Civil War.
Nolen said the series offers MSU students, faculty and staff the chance to hear from important scholars.
"What we hope that students will gain from the lecture is an opportunity to hear original research presented by both a student and a seasoned scholar," he said.
The lecture series and Marszalek Library Fund were established in 2002 when John F. and Jeanne A. Marszalek donated $20,000 to establish the fund with Mississippi State University Libraries for the purchase of primary source materials on three aspects of American history: Civil War and Reconstruction; Jacksonian America; and race relations. Materials purchased with this fund may be of any type other than monographs or journals.
"Through the Marszaleks' generosity the library is able to add to its collections and the research and teaching mission of the university is positively impacted by both the fund and the lecture," Nolen added.