2/8/2016 11:41:43 AM

Studying the Past, Building Skills for the Future

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

By Jim Eaton

History major Meghan Vreeland ’16 spent this academic year learning that there’s much more to studying history than reading a bunch of dusty old books.

Vreeland worked closely with Professor of History Karen Mahar, Ph.D. on an independent study project titled “Tailor-Made Men: Menswear, Masculinity, and the Rise of the American Business Executive.”

Their research examined the cultural evolution of the male executive’s appearance. Siena’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity funded a trip to New York City where Vreeland and Mahar conducted research in the corporate archives of clothing manufacturer Van Heusen.

“Having an opportunity to go into the corporate archives of one of the world’s most well-known fashion companies was an amazing opportunity,” Mahar said.

Once their research was complete, Mahar and Vreeland co-wrote a paper based on their experience. They delivered it at the Capital District Feminist Studies Faculty Consortium in February.

This semester, Vreeland shifted her focus from men’s clothing to Capital Region real estate. As part of Mahar’s Public History class, she and fellow history major Elizabeth Marsh’16 examined Swyer Companies, a real estate firm that built Stuyvesant Plaza and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC).

“It was not only interesting to learn about the companies, and in our case their philanthropy over the years, but we met numerous Siena alumni along the way, including Assemblyman Jack McEneny ’69, who were happy to assist us,” Marsh said.

Their classmates also researched the impact that local businesses have had on the area over the years.Their research culminated in the production of museum-quality exhibits that were on display at the Ten Broeck Mansion’s “Living History Day – Hidden Treasures of Albany” on May 3.

This experience partnering with the Ten Broeck Mansion was met with positive feedback from people in attendance and the students who participated in the project.

“I have met so many people in the public history field this year and it has only strengthened my desire to do this for a living,” said Vreeland. “The CURCA grant to go to New York City really piqued my interest and the Ten Broeck experience sealed it for me.”

If the past is any indication, this won’t be the last time Siena history majors such as Vreeland work with local businesses or national retailers to better understand the past, while developing skills that will improve their futures.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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