Winterthur Fellows write a master’s thesis. They select an advisor in the spring of their first year and undertake primary research the following summer. Fellows are free to choose their thesis topic, but they must submit a thesis proposal to ensure that they choose a topic with a manageable scope. The Program is committed to assuring that Fellows finish their thesis on time, and both the advisor and Program Director must sign the proposal.
Many Fellows begin the Program with a thesis topic in mind, but they often change direction upon exposure to new objects and ideas. As they explore the Winterthur collections, visit sites across the United States and abroad, take classes at Winterthur and the University of Delaware, speak with visiting scholars, attend symposia and conferences, Fellows find that they have an abundance of possible thesis topics.
Over the course of more than 60 years, Winterthur Fellows have produced a noteworthy body of research on a wide range of topics. They have studied archaeology, architecture, artisans, the arts and crafts movement, contemporary art, base metals, ceramics, clocks, embroidery, furniture, glass, historic interiors, Asian export objects, landscapes, print culture, package design, political objects, gendered objects, silver, textiles, Native American objects, twentieth-century design, religious objects, African American material landscapes, Hispanic carving patterns, objects found in abandoned spaces, and many other themes.
Below is a sample of Winterthur theses. The diversity of topics reveal the creativity with which these students approach object analysis. This diversity includes the analysis of different materials, time periods, technologies, geographic regions, ethnicities, religions, genders, ages, and socioeconomic statuses.
To explore a full list of completed theses through 2016, click here.
Ahlborn, Richard E. Spanish colonial woodcarving in New Mexico, 1598-1848. 1958.
Zaiden, Emily N. Spanish dream castles: defining an architectural style for Los Angeles in the Depression Era. 2002.
Alexander, S. Tiernan. It stains the tablecloth: the persistence and evolution of manchamanteles. 2014.
Schonberger, Nicholas. Inking Identity: Tattoo Design and the Emergence of an American Industry, 1875 to 1930. 2005.
Appleby, Mary E. The Gorham Company’s Martele line of silver: an analysis of the consumer and commercial strategy of the company. 1998.
Delphia, Rachel E. Design to enable the body: Thomas Lamb’s wedge-lock handle, 1941-1962. 2005.
Swinehart, Kirk Davis. Promoting “liquid fire”: gaslight and the American imagination. 1995.
Cross, Jody E. “That which she calls her own”: gender and material culture in early Philadelphia wills. 2001.
Wright, Natalie Elizabeth. Museums of the present day: contemporary abandoned spaces. 2015.
Erbes, Scott Steven. The ready-cut dream: the mail order house catalogs of the Aladdin Company, 1906- 1990. 1990.
Pascali, Lara. Baby books and childhood narratives: writing the self through material culture. 2007.
Goodman, Rhonda Christina. Denmark Vesey and the slave insurrection trial narratives: the African-American social landscape of antebellum Charleston, South Carolina. 2000.
Hardwick, M. Jeff. Homesteads and bungalows, African American architecture in Langston, Oklahoma. 1994.
Hammell, Peter Herbert. Images of the American Indian reflected in prints, 1830-1860. 1978.
LaBar-Kidd, Laureen Ann. Indian trade silver as inter-cultural document in the northeast. 2000.
Gibson, Heather. Embroidered history and familiar patterns: textiles as expressions of Hmong and Mennonite lives. 2006.
McClure, Jean Bruce. The American-China trade in Chinese export porcelain. 1957.
Lange, Amanda Elizabeth. The Islamic taste in American domestic interiors, 1869-1910. 1990.
McIntyre, W. John. Chairs and chairmaking in Upper Canada. 1975.
Lucas, Kelli J. How the other half saw themselves: photographs and fictions on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. 2004.
Schad, Angela T. Science on display: research exhibitions in interwar Washington. 2014.
Zimmerman, Philip D. The artifact as historical source material: a comparative study of Philadelphia chairs. 1980.
All theses received by May 1st of the Fellows’ second year are eligible for the E. McClung Fleming prize, the Program’s annual thesis prize named in honor of one of the Program’s earliest and most beloved teachers. The prize carries a cash award of $500 and consideration for publication in the Winterthur Portfolio. The prize committee also awards an honorable mention with a $300 cash award.
Edward McClung (“Mac”) Fleming was born in India, where his father was a missionary; the family returned to the United States when he was three years old. He received a B.A. degree from Yale University, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in American intellectual and cultural history from Columbia University. Dr. Fleming taught history at Forman College, Lahore, India for two years, then taught at the College of the City of New York for seven years. During World War II, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army. From 1947 to 1955, Dr. Fleming was professor of history and dean at Park College in Parkville, Missouri. In 1955, he came to Winterthur Museum as head of the Education Division, a position he held until his retirement in 1974.
McClung Fleming Thesis Prize Winners 1996 – Present
2015: Lea Lane, “’A marvel of Taste and Skill’ : Carved Pipes of the American Civil War.”
Katie McKinney, “Double Vision : Portrait Miniatures and Embedded Likeness in Early America.” (Honorable mention)
2014: Philippe L. Halbert, “Power Houses : Furnishing Authority in New France.”
Alexander Ames, “Heavenly Handwriting, Teutonic Type : Faith and Script in German Pennsylvania, ca. 1683-1855.” (Honorable mention)
2013: Joseph H. Larnerd, “Captain Biddle’s ‘Coolness’ Commandeers a Sperm Whale Tooth.”
Kate Swisher, “Crafting Americans: Immigrants and Textile Crafts at the Hull House Labor Museum, 1900-1935.” (Honorable Mention)
2012: Shoshana Resnikoff, “Sailors in Skirts: Mainbocher and the Making of the Navy Waves.”
Ariel Berg, “Perceiving and Resisting: the Negotiations of Art and Photography at the Tanforan Assembly Center.” (Honorable Mention)
2011: Tyler Putman, “The Slop Shop and the Almshouse: Ready-made Menswear in Philadelphia, 1780-1820.”
Leah Giles, “Entertaining a New Republic: Music and the Women of Washington, 1800-1825.” (Honorable Mention)
Erin Kuykendall, “Philadelphia Carpenters, Cabinetmakers, & Captains: the Working World of Thomas Nevell, 1762-1784.” (Honorable Mention)
2010: Kate LaPrad, “Thinking Locally, Acquiring Globally : the Loockerman Family of Delaware, 1630-1790.”
Sarah Parks, “Britian, Brazil and the Trade in Printed Cottons, 1827-1841.”
2009: Christie Jackson, “Linking Land and Sea: the Design, Decoration and Use of Space on Transatlantic Ocean Liners.”
Elizabeth M. Jones,””What’s love got to do with it? : The social life of comic valentines, 1870-1920.” (Honorable Mention)
Staci Steinberger, “Selling the silent salesman: Irv Koons and mid-twentieth century packaging design.” (Honorable Mention)
2008: Steve Delisle, “Read My Gorget: Transformations in the Utility of Gorgets in North America from Insignia of Rank to Symbols of Diplomacy and Presentation Objects and the Enigma of the “Otsiquette Gorget””.
Sarah Jones, “”A Grand and Ceaseless Thoroughfare”: The Social and Cultural Experience of shopping on Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 1820-1860″.
2007: Nicholas Vincent, “Tables of sociability: Philadelphia pier tables, 1810-1850”.
Sara Jatcko, “The love of research and the gift for new weavings: the work, collections, and legacy of Marguerite Porter Davison”. (Honorable Mention)
2006: Lisa Minardi, “Of massive stones and durable materials: architecture and community in eighteenth century Trappe, Pennsylvania”.
Amy Bogansky, “The devil’s servants: satire in Colonial America and the visual language of conflict”. (Honorable Mention)
Jane Marion, “Fine dining : the 1828 detached dining room of John S. Bratton”. (Honorable Mention)
Eliza Stoner, “Commodifying convenience, cleanliness, and privacy: American public restroom design since 1851”. (Honorable Mention)
2005: Dana Byrd, “The paradox of good intentions : John Needles, cabinetmaker in antebellum Baltimore”.
Megan Giordano, “Artistry and industry in cast iron: Batsto Furnace, 1766-1840”. (Honorable Mention)
2004: Amanda Isaac, “An unlimited fancy : Ann Flower’s sketchbook, 1753-1765”.
Laura Johnson, “”Goods to clothe themselves” : native consumers, native images on the Pennsylvania trading frontier, 1712-1730″. (Honorable Mention)
2003: Anne Gossen, “Layers of meaning in a Kwakiuth potlatch figure”.
Joanna Frang, “Image and object 19th century American collections of East Indian paintings on mica”. (Honorable Mention)
Andrew Richmond, “A confluence of cultures : Furniture and identity in Washington County, Ohio, 1788-1825”. (Honorable Mention)
Kristen Wetzel, “Susan Jane Gaston Donaldson and the pedal harp in the early Republic”. (Honorable Mention)
2002: Erin Eisenbarth, “Plain and peculiar: a case study of nineteenth-century Quaker clothing”.
Sarah Fayen, “Tilt-top tables: commodities in eighteenth-century America”.
2001: Tova Brandt, “The sheet music collection of Eliza Ridgely, 1808-1867”.
2000: Amber Degn, “”Houses from the Reservoirs of Memory”: G. Edward Brumbaugh and the restoration of early Pennsylvania architecture”.
Melissa Naulin, “”All that a genteel family need require”: the church family’s frontier experience at Belvidere, Allegany County, New York”. (Honorable Mention)
1999: Judy Guston, “The almanacs of Michael Gratz: time, community and Jewish identity in eighteenth century Philadelphia”.
Melinda Talbot, “”Dreadful fashionable”: the work of Mary Ann Warriner, Rhode Island milliner, 1835-1841″. (Honorable Mention)
1998: Nedda Moqtaderi, “The landscape of life and work aboard H.M.S. Debraak.”
Catherine Whalen, “The consummation of Empire: the Vansyckel family bedchamber suite”. (Honorable Mention)
1997: Kari Main “’Pursuing the things of this world’: Mormon resistance and assimilation as seen in the furniture of the Brigham City Cooperative (1874- 1888)”.
Jennifer Hammond, “’Novelty in entertaining…easily and artistically arranged’: Middle-class Women and Themed Parties in America, 1880-1915.” (Honorable Mention)
Michelle Jarrett “Uncertain Blessings: Pregnancy, Birth, and Early Childcare in Eighteenth Century America.” (Honorable Mention)
Ashli White “Negotiated landscapes: culture and material life in late eighteenth century Berkeley Parish, Virginia.” (Honorable Mention)
1996: Carol Borchert “The Inventory of Lucretia Constance Radcliffe: the Material World of Elites in Federal Period Charleston.”
Cindy Falk “Evidence of Ethnicity and Status in the Architectural Landscape of Eighteenth Century Coventry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.” (Honorable Mention)