By Denise Vogt
Here at the FBA History Project, we’ve long hoped a GWU student would be interested in our neighborhood’s history, use our resources, and write a paper. Our hopes were realized with Julia Russo, who wrote a prize winning paper on Black Foggy Bottom history. FBA History co-founder and co-chair Denise Vogt introduced Russo at the awards ceremony as the recipient of a well-deserved 2023 Julian Clement Chase Undergraduate Research Writing Prize.
Russo, a GWU senior, lived in an historic rowhouse on 25th Street in the fall of 2022. The historic area fed her curiosity and it became the cornerstone of her Interrogating GW (Fall 2022) class-required paper, “A Legacy of Disenfranchisement: Interrogating the Displacement of the Historical Black Foggy Bottom Community.” The paper traces the history of the Black community in Foggy Bottom from the Civil War to its displacement during the 1950s. The paper also addresses GWU’s role in neighborhood change and current gentrification issues. Her excellent analysis of the neglected issue of Black Foggy Bottom is an important contribution to neighborhood history.
In describing her writing process, Julia said, “Tom (History Prof. Tom Guglielmo) really taught me the importance of primary source material and I think the collection of sources from actual community members is really what helped the outcome of my paper.” Russo’s paper was published in the Spring 2023 “GWU Undergraduate Review.” She also received the Elsie M. Carper Prize as the graduating American Studies major who exhibited extraordinary research and writing abilities.
The October 4th awards ceremony was organized by Phyllis Ryder, Associate Prof. of Writing. Ms. Ryder co-chairs the Julian Clement Chase committee with Prof. Phillip Troutman, both from the University Writing Program. Host, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Clarence Page, introduced Julia and two other student winners. The presentations by winners for Creative Writing and Community Impact were impressive. “This is the first year that they (the committee) gave awards for three prizes,” said Ms. Ryder. The Prize honors of Sgt. Julian Clement Chase, who planned to begin to attend GW in the spring of 2013, but was killed in action in Afghanistan. For more information about the prizes and about Sgt Chase, see the JCC website: https://writingprogram.gwu.edu/julian-clement-chase-prize.
For more information of the FBA History Project and opportunities to contribute https://www.foggybottomassociation.org/history-project.