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Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
3003 N. Charles Street, Suite 100
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-3843
Phone: (410) 516-7160 | Fax (410) 516-5251

April 6, 2001
CONTACT: Glenn Small

Highland Park Native Presents Research at
Undergraduate Award Ceremony

Caroline Shaw, a native of Highland Park, Ill., was one of 43 Johns Hopkins undergraduates to present her research findings at a recent ceremony in Baltimore. As a winner of the prestigious Provost Undergraduate Research Award, Shaw was given up to $2,500 to do an advanced research project.

A senior history major, Shaw used the money to spend six weeks in England, combing through 180-year-old newspaper accounts and other records of three sensational events and key court cases that she theorizes squelched any chance of a French-style revolution in Britain.

"There's a lot of drama, a lot of conflict, a lot of mystery and people being held in suspense," she said of the court cases that altered the course of the radical reform movement in early 19th century England.

The first case, which came to be known as the Peterloo massacre, involved British troops trampling over protestors in an August 1819 demonstration. The radical press used the incident to inflame passions and call for the overthrow of the British government.

"Looking at the press, they have this overblown rhetoric that, you know, it's essentially the same rhetoric that you hear with the American revolution," said Shaw. "Very overblown, very dramatic, very life-or-death-oriented. Good and evil."

But before revolt occurred, several radical reformers were arrested and charged with conspiracy to murder government officials, an event known as the Cato Street Conspiracy. As events unfolded in these two court cases, the radical and loyalist press vied for public sympathy.

In the end, the government managed to demonize all radical reformers as criminals, a label they tried to shake off, without success, by defending Queen Caroline against charges of adultery, in a third trial. Shaw said having access to so many primary documents really allowed her to delve deeply into these three cases in a systematic way.

She also learned a few other things. One is that she's allergic to dust, after handling so many old documents. But the other is, despite that, she wants to do more such research when she goes to graduate school.

The Johns Hopkins University is recognized as the country's first graduate research university, and has been in recent years the leader among the nation's research universities in winning federal research and development grants.

The opportunity to be involved in important research is one of the distinguishing characteristics of an undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins. About 80 percent of the university's undergraduates engage in some form of independent research during their four years, most often alongside top researchers in their fields.

The Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards is one of these research opportunities, open to students in each of the university's four schools with full- time undergraduates: the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering, the Peabody Conservatory and the School of Nursing. Since 1993, about 40 students each year have been awarded up to $2,500 to propose and conduct original research, some results of which have been published in professional journals. The awards, begun by then provost Joseph Cooper and funded through a donation from the Hodson Trust, are an important part of the university's commitment to research.

Return to Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards news release.

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