Loyola University Chicago

Department of History

A Conversation with Anthony Stamilio, 2021 McCluggage Award Recipient

Anthony Stamilio is a PhD student in the joint doctoral program in Public History and American History. He recently received the 2021 McCluggage Graduate Award for his essay, “Divorce and Melodrama in the Civil War Era.” When we asked him about his research, Anthony said, “I wanted to write about celebrity divorce in the nineteenth century. There are a number of actors–Edwin Forrest, Fanny Kemble, and Ada Issacs Menken–whose divorces were highly publicized. I wanted to look at what people got out of reading weekly newspaper updates about celebrity divorces during a time of societal turmoil. I think nineteenth-century scandals can tell us something about celebrity and society in the twenty-first century.”

Obviously, the research experience during the 2020-2021 year was different for virtually everyone due to COVID-19 shutdowns and restricted access to archives. Anthony commented on how he met this challenge: “ I partially chose this research topic so that I could use digitized newspapers, but I did go to the Chicago History Museum and Newberry Library. Both of those visits were challenging because they were all-or-nothing trips. I was only able to book a single time slot at each place so I had to hope that the items I reserved would be useful. I ended up leaning heavily on research from each visit which is pretty satisfying.”

Anthony began his time here at Loyola as an MA in Public History student, and he stayed on to complete his PhD. He said, “The transition has been strange with the pandemic. On one hand, I feel more connected to the department because I work with undergraduates now, but on the other hand, I’m not on campus as much. I’m looking forward to answering this question in a year.”

This summer brings forth the optimism of reopenings and getting to be more involved with public projects. In Anthony’s case, he is working with Loyola alumna Dr. Meagan McChesney in an internship at the Winnetka Historical Society, where he will assist with exhibit development, programming, and collections management.


14 June 2021