Story+ Call for Applications

Looking to expand your skillset this summer? Want an opportunity to use historical documents to learn about U.S. electrification? Curious about how gender has played a role in government programs?

Consider applying to join the Energy Access Project’s Story+ project, Joining the electric circus: rural electrification and gender in the papers of Louisan Mamer!

What is Story+?

Story+ is a 6-week paid summer research experience for Duke students—undergraduates and graduates—interested in exploring humanities research approaches (archival research, oral histories, narrative analysis, visual analysis, and more). The program combines research with an emphasis on storytelling for different public audiences. In Story+, students are organized into small project teams and have the opportunity to participate in a flexible mini “curriculum” on research methods and storytelling strategies.

What is this project about?

Between 1939 and 1941, representatives from the Rural Electrification Agency organized a carnivalesque roadshow designed to encourage families to purchase and use electrical appliances and other equipment in their homes and on their farms. A key audience of the roadshow was rural farm women, who were seen as equal partners in the effort of electrification — and who, the REA reasoned, needed to be shown the way to modernity through electricity. This Story+ project will draw on the Louisan E. Mamer Rural Electrification Administration Papers located at the Smithsonian National Museum for American History to examine how officials’ understanding of the gendered division of labor on American farms informed the tactics they used to encourage utilization of electricity. The overall goal of the project is to understand and share how assumptions about gendered labor influenced the electric circus’s programing, as well as collate any lessons learned for similar programs happening today.

How can I learn more?

You can learn more by visiting the Story+ table at the Bass Connections Fair, January 24th 2:00-4:30pm at the Penn Pavilion. You can also learn more and apply here. Feel free to direct any questions to

Applications due by February 14, 2020. Applications are evaluated on a rolling basis.

Interested in more quantitative research? Check out our partner Data+ project, Taking electrification on the road: Exploring the impact of the Electric Farm Equipment roadshow.

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