Loyola University Chicago

Department of History


Rachel Boyle wins President's Medallion

Rachel Boyle wins President

We are thrilled to announce that PhD candidate Rachel Boyle has been awarded this year's President's Medallion. This award is one of the highest honors bestowed by the University, recognizing one outstanding student in each college for their leadership, scholarship, and service.

Reacting to the news of her award, Boyle said that she is "grateful for the honor, and even more grateful to be at an institution that holds up leadership, scholarship, and service as ideals to strive for and celebrate."

Boyle's scholarship focuses on women’s and gender history in late 19th- and early 20th-century Chicago. Her dissertation, "She Shot Him Dead: Criminal Women and the Struggle over Social order in Chicago, 1870-1920," examines how women homicide suspects were tried, punished, written about, and talked about in the Gilded Age/Progressive era. By tracing women from the streets and homes of Chicago through the court and prison systems, Boyle's work grapples with enduring questions about who is identified as criminal and who is held culpable for crime.

In addition to academic scholarship, Boyle has also worked on a number of public history projects, making historical knowledge and inquiry accessible to public audiences through archives, digital media, oral history, and preservation. Boyle created an online exhibit for Loyola’s Women and Leadership Archives, entitled "Practical Work: Chicago Woman’s Club Reformers, Criminal Women, and Delinquent Children, 1876-1920." On a lighter note, Boyle, along with Annie Cullen (MA, Public History, 2013), created "Public History Ryan Gosling," a Tumblr feed that attracted followers with sassy commentary on public history theory. Boyle and Cullen went on to present on the possibilities and limitations of "Public History Ryan Gosling" at the 2013 National Council on Public History conference.

Boyle has been a leader in our community of public history students, serving as President of the History Graduate Student Association from 2013-2014, and as volunteer and project facilitator in the Public History Lab, a student-run effort that provides history graduate students with opportunities to use and build professional skills at Chicago-area history organizations and sites of history.

Boyle sees her work as upholding the Jesuit ideals of higher education, both within the Loyola community and outside the academy. As she explains, "within Loyola, I work to provide opportunities for professional development, convene critical scholarly conversations, and facilitate application of student skills through service. Beyond Loyola, I volunteer my time and expertise for the benefit of local cultural organizations. In addition to emphasizing social justice and responsibility in my scholarship and teaching, I try to put theory into action by serving the communities around me."

Congratulations, Rachel! This honor is clearly well-deserved!

For more about Rachel and other 2015-2016 President's Medallion winners, click here.