Rachel Small ’21, an undergraduate researcher in the College of Liberal Arts, has always had a passion for history, specifically for Amelia Earhart. Pursuing her passion, Small spent the previous calendar year studying Earhart and digging through the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections to discover if she was truly a feminist.
“While searching for primary sources that were supportive of Amelia’s feminist activism, I discovered some contradictions,” says Small. “This is where my independent research began.”
Along with performing independent research, Small worked with Jessica Perkins ’21, an undergraduate student in the College of Health and Human Sciences, to tackle the Amelia Earhart collection. Small and Perkins were mentored by Sammie Morris, the University Archivist, and Dr. Kendall Roark, Assistant Professor, from Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies. Their research worked to help Dr. Amy Kleppner, Earhart’s niece, write a feminism-focused book about the aviation icon.
Through performing undergraduate research, Small has grown to understand the role that perspective can play and has become more aware of possible biases that may be present. She has also realized that research is something that she may be interested in pursuing further.
“Presenting at the research conference was a good way of learning how to relay all of the information that I’ve collected in my head to others. Working in the Archives helped me see that I could do this for a career, which is very reassuring.”