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Bonnie Jeanne Werlinich, a student assistant in the University of South Carolina Upstate’s Library archives and a rising senior majoring in history, has won the 2013 William Jennings Bryan Dorn Undergraduate Prize of $350 for her paper, Building Relationships and Institutions: The Founding of a University Center at Spartanburg.

South Carolina Political Collections (SCPC) offers this annual prize for the best paper by an undergraduate student, enrolled at any college or university, based on research in SCPC holdings. These holdings document post – World War II society and government and consist of the papers of leaders in government, political parties, and other individuals and organizations that influence government, chiefly at the national and state levels.

In tracing the details of the founding of the branch USC campus, Werlinich studied Governor Robert McNair’s appointment books to determine when he met with the “boosters” encouraging the creation of the new campus, “finding gold in the mundane” according to Herb Hartsook of “A Capital Blog,” the USC Library’s SCPC collections blog.

“I chose this topic because for over a year now I have become intimately acquainted with every newspaper clipping on the first 10 years of USC Upstate,” writes Werlinich, who currently resides in Inman.

“The biggest challenge in my research was finding the answer to how a branch of the University of South Carolina was able to be formally established in less than 30 days,” she says. “The movement to found the university had a great deal of momentum behind it once it began. That’s where the S.C. Political Collection and the Caroliniana came in. There were documents that filled in the missing pieces that were not in the news because they took place behind the scenes.”

“I used newspaper clippings, files from our [USC Upstate Library] archives regarding the curriculum and student population in 1967-68, a program from Founders Day which talked about the members of the citizens committee, information from the Caroliniana library archive at USC and the South Carolina Political Collection. I also used information from the oral history program we now have. I interviewed Cleveland Harley, and a secondary source written by the first faculty member, John Edmunds. The [university’s] first employee, Marion Murph, kept a scrapbook and there were also several other books of secondary material. Mostly, I used newspaper clippings,” Werlinich adds.

The paper was written for her American Studies 500 course with Professor Andrew Myers.

“The Library is fortunate to have Bonnie as a student assistant,” says Frieda Davison, Library dean. “She is dependable, inquisitive, and very astute at recognizing the importance and the uniqueness of the materials she works with in the archives.”

For more information, contact Bonnie Werlinich at werlinic@email.uscupstate.edu.

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