Morency Wins Fulbright to Conduct Research in Australia
Jenna Morency, who graduated magna cum laude from UMF with a degree in history, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Full Grant to conduct research at Australia’s University of Tasmania and the Archives Office of Tasmania. Morency, who is now earning a master’s degree in history at the University of Maine, will research the plight of U.S. citizens imprisoned by British forces at a Tasmanian penal colony in 1839 for participating in the Canadian Rebellion.
“Some of the Americans were pardoned, some were sent to the penal colony and some were executed,” Morency said. “The British couldn’t decide what to do with them, so they did a little bit of everything to them.”
Morency began researching the incarcerated U.S. citizens for her senior capstone research project advised by Ken Orosz, associate professor of history at UMF. After poring over the memoirs of some penal colony survivors during her senior year at UMF, Morency challenged the central thesis of Cassandra Pybus and Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, authors of the book American Citizens, British Slaves: Yankee Political Prisoners in an Australian Penal Colony 1839-1850.
While Pybus and Maxwell-Stewart argue that the Americans received the same treatment as the general prison population, Morency discovered otherwise.
“Some of the Americans received preferential treatment from a sympathetic overseer, while others were worked to death. The lieutenant governor of the colony, who happened to be Benjamin Franklin’s nephew, was particularly harsh with the Americans, ordering that they were to be made an example of in order to crush their rebellious spirit,” she said.
Orosz, himself a Fulbright honoree, couldn’t be happier for his protégé.
“Being awarded a Fulbright is a testament to Jenna's academic abilities and shows the real value of undergraduate research,” he said. “I cannot imagine a better ambassador for UMF and cannot wait to read the results of her research.”
And what does Morency think of her award?
“I would never have won the Fulbright without Ken. He was a mentor, who encouraged me to pursue the Fulbright and was supportive through every step of the long process,” she said. “I look forward to other UMF students receiving Fulbrights so they can be as thrilled as I am.”