The annual Irvington Historical Society’s Pat and John Ryan History Scholarship has been awarded to I.H.S. seniors Katy McLaughlin, Ruby Hanna and Liam Oley.  The $1,000 scholarship is awarded each spring to Irvington High School seniors “whose love of history and intellectual achievements in pursuing historical research serve as a model for others.  Selection criteria include the students’ academic performance, the quantity and quality of history and history-related classes taken, the students’ interest in and aptitude for history (this can also be expressed beyond the academic classroom), and an example of historical scholarship.”  Each applicant must submit a transcript and a letter of interest as well as an example of historical scholarship. Irvington High School Social Studies teacher Chris Barry, Irvington Historical Society’s board member and college professor Neil Maher, and former Irvington High School principal and Society board member Scott Mosenthal serve as judges for the contest.

Katy’s winning entry is entitled “Prostitution on the Frontier: Power and Exploitation.” Her essay explores the rise and fall of the power of prostitutes in the Old West from 1840-1920 and how Victorian principles, government action, and economic and social situations enabled prostitutes to gain stature for a number of years before succumbing to increased governmental regulation. Of particular note is her examination of how Chinese prostitutes were initially granted a degree of autonomy but were ultimately subjected to a degree of exploitation far worse than the non-Chinese prostitutes.

Ruby’s essay is entitled “A Generation Lost: Reagan’s Culpability in the HIV/AIDS Epidemic.” She traces how Reagan’s apathy towards those afflicted with AIDS led to indifference on the part of the government towards the epidemic which resulted in the loss of thousands of innocent lives.

Liam’s essay, “The Fall of the American Buffalo,” describes how three movements–the American public’s demand for buffalo products, the building of the transcontinental railroad, and the deliberate actions of the federal government to starve Native Americans into submission–led to the near extinction of what had most likely been the largest group of mammals on the planet.

Two other students were awarded runner-up status and awarded memberships to the Irvington Historical Society.  Karina Ulrich’s essay is entitled ”Artifacts of Oppression: the Preservation of White Supremacy through Confederate Monuments”; Miriam Chester’s essay is entitled  “The Power of Civil Disobedience: A Look at the Anti-Vietnam War Movement”.

Copies of the winning essays are available below.