Hathaway’s historical research wins Merrifield Competition at UND


Curt Hanson

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

Chester Fritz Library


Sonja N. Hathaway, a Ph.D. student in the University of North Dakota Department of History, has won the 2012-13 Merrifield Competition for her research paper on North Dakota history.

Her paper, "Aaron McGaffey Beede's Fight Against the Beef Trust's Use of Standing Rock Reservation Land" examined the history of Beede's struggle against access to reservation land by large cattle companies in the 1910s.

A native North Dakotan, Hathaway has bachelors and master's degrees in history from UND. In her doctoral studies, she specializes in both Great Plains and Western European history. She also acts as a storyteller with the Grand Forks County Historical Society; she portrays Mathilda Engstad, an early resident of Grand Forks and the wife of one of the town's earliest physicians.

Named in honor of Webster Merrifield, UND's first librarian and third president, the Merrifield Competition awards a $1,000 scholarship for the most outstanding student research paper, utilizing historic documents from the Chester Fritz Library's Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections. The competition is sponsored by Special Collections and the UND History Department.

A five-member jury reviewed the papers submitted for the competition. The panel comprised Curt Hanson, head of special collections, and four UND faculty members: Nikki Berg-Burin, history and women and gender studies; Chris Nelson, English; Kim Porter, history; and Jan Stone, Thormodsgard Law Library.

The papers were judged on quality of research, clarity of thesis and conclusion, writing skill and the investigation of primary sources.