On March 16th and 17th, the University At Buffalo held its 27th annual Milton Plesur History Conference. The history conference is organized by the university’s history department, and acts as a forum for graduate students, both within and beyond the university, to present historical papers and research that is in some manner relevant to an overall theme. This year’s theme was Rediscovering Oceanus: Twenty First Century Approaches to the Atlantic World. As such the topics of the papers tended to relate to the history to the Atlantic and the history of societies with connections to it.
I attended the Milton Plesur Conference to present a paper on the history of Abolitionism in Allegany County, New York. Those who are interest in knowing what was in the paper can read it here.
The conference began on Friday afternoon, when people arrived at O Brain Hall to register as having arrived for the conference. After registration, we gathered to hear the keynote address. This year’s keynote address was given by Dr. Robert Deal of Marshall University. He gave a talk on his research on the history of 19th century whale hunting practices in the northern Atlantic. After the keynote address was delivered, I returned home until the next day.
The main part of the conference was conducted. There conference day started with breakfast. It was followed by the first session of paper presentations, lunch, the second session, and was concluded with the third session. The first session was divided into two topical groupings; Studies in American History and Changes in Gender Identity in the United States. The Studies in American History section included my paper on the abolitionist history of Allegany County, as well as papers on the history of symbolic images on grave markers, the development of the dairy industry in West Virginia in the 1920’s and 30’s, and the use heteronormative rhetoric by the Ladder and Mattachine review to build gay and lesbian communities. The other section included papers on Anna May Wong, the politics of motherhood in the 1880-1920 United States, and a study on the history of women and drug addiction in southern West Virginia.
The second session likewise contained two sections of paper presentations. Those were Aspects of Exchange and Interaction in African History and Military Aspects in the Atlantic world. The former section included papers on the extension of the Atlantic slave trade in East Africa and the role that surgeons played in advancing abolitionism and convincing the British Empire to oppose the Atlantic Slave trade. The later section included papers on the failed U.S. invasion of Quebec, the American Revolution, and the Coconut war.
The third session contained only one section, with it being on The Wide Reach of the Atlantic World. It included papers on the transition of Iceland from a farm centered economy to a fishing centered economy, the use of analytical techniques from Atlantic history to analyze the history of the English Channel in the early modern period, and legal pluralism in the British Atlantic.
These presentations helped to provide information on a variety of historical topics, helped to showcase various types of approaches to researching and covering history, provided opportunities for historical discussions, and offered the potential for fostering new ideas. Overall, I would say that this year’s Milton Plesur History Conference was a rather interesting event.