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Marquis Scholar Megan Caufield ’03 (Massena, N.Y.) will present her research on pro-feminist men in the early women’s rights movement at the 17th Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research March 13-15 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Caufield, a double major in history and government & law, is undertaking her study in pursuit of departmental honors in history under the guidance of Deborah Rosen, associate professor of history.

An accomplished scholar, Rosen recently published “Acoma v. Laguna and the Transition from Spanish Colonial Law to American Civil Procedure in New Mexico,” an article in Law and History Review. She is coeditor of a two-volume collection of early American Indian documents and author of Courts and Commerce: Gender, Law, and the Market Economy in Colonial New York.

“Megan is asking such questions as the following: What issues did nineteenth-century male feminists identify as the most significant problems facing women? What theoretical approaches did they take and what solutions did they propose? And what rhetorical choices did they make when they spoke out in support of women?” explains Rosen.

“During the time period between the end of the Revolutionary War and the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, pro-feminist men worked for women’s suffrage and reform in the areas of property law, workplace, and education,” says Caufield. She is analyzing documents such as essays, letters, and speeches of Wendell Phillips, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and Francis Minor, among others. She is using very few secondary sources beyond biographical information.

“The study of the women’s movement has focused on female leaders. While men and women were working for the same cause, the male arguments seemed to focus more on the legal and constitutional reasons for an expansion of women’s rights,” she says. “I am attempting to show the importance of the men’s different approach to the women’s rights struggle in early America.”

Rosen says she has particularly enjoyed advising Caufield on this project. “Megan is an outstanding student with a keen analytical mind. She is self-motivated and self-disciplined, and she consistently produces excellent work. Her analysis of documents has been astute and thoughtful; she writes beautifully, describing and analyzing the men’s speeches and essays in superbly clear and engaging prose.”

Caufield says Rosen has been very helpful and encouraging with the project. “I’m glad to be working with Professor Rosen because she has so much knowledge about the women’s rights movement, and she has really helped me communicate my thoughts on this subject.”

“Lafayette is good for projects like this because the faculty is so knowledgeable. They really do care about their students being able to explore areas that interest them,” she says.

A member of College Democrats and Alpha Phi sorority, Caufield has been a member of Residence Hall Council and the Family Weekend Committee.

Categorized in: Academic News