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Communication professor earns national award for research of women’s history

Friday, November 15, 2013

Media Contact: Bridget Lewis

News Topics: awards, communications, education, faculty, history, liberal arts, research

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The American Journalism Historians Association has awarded a UT Arlington assistant communication professor national honors for her research into how women used 19th century magazines to rally support for the preservation of George Washington’s estate.

Pribanic-Smith researches political communication in print media in the 19th- and 20th-century American South.

Erika Pribanic-Smith was recognized with the 2013 Maurine Beasley Award for Outstanding Paper in Women’s History. She researches political communication in print media in the 19th- and 20th-century American South.

Her paper, “For the Fame Which May Be Forgotten: Two Magazines and the Fight to Save Mount Vernon, 1855-1860,” explores how the Mount Vernon Ladies Association used Godey’s Lady’s Book and the Southern Literary Messenger during their drive to raise funds for the purchase and renovation of the Virginia home of the first president of the United States. She focused on editorials and letters to the editor that were used to disseminate political ideology.

“It was a complicated task because the association not only needed to raise awareness about the cause and convince people to donate at a time when many were experiencing financial hardship, but they also had to combat public sentiment that meddling in public affairs was inappropriate for women,” said Pribanic-Smith, who joined the University in 2010.

She added: “Although a number of historians have written about the Mount Vernon movement, this research was the first that examined the magazines’ role, and it discovered that much of the accepted history about when and how the MVLA organized is incorrect.”

The Mount Vernon Ladies Association is the oldest national historic preservation organization in the United States. Its efforts led to the new George Washington Presidential Library, which opened last year on a 15-acre parcel across the street from Mount Vernon’s main entrance.

Beth Wright, dean of the UT Arlington College of Liberal Arts, said Pribanic-Smith’s award builds on research excellence emanating from the UT Arlington Department of Communication. She noted that Pribanic-Smith also published work this year in American Journalism and Journalism History, the premier academic journals in the journalism history field.

The American Journalism Historians Association said the task of selecting winners was particularly difficult this year. “We had a record amount of paper submissions this year – 77, up from 69 last year – so the competition for awards was tougher than ever,” said Linda Lumsden, research chair of the AJHA.

Pribanic-Smith’s paper also received honorable mention for the David Sloan Award for the top faculty paper. Both honors were awarded during the organization’s annual conference in New Orleans in September.

Pribanic-Smith said she is honored that her peers think so highly of her work.

“I am also grateful to The University of Texas at Arlington, the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of Communication for the support I have received that has enabled me to blossom as a scholar of journalism history,” she said. “I am fortunate to be a part of an institution that is so supportive of its faculty.”

About the American Journalism Historians Association

Founded in 1981, the American Journalism Historians Association seeks to advance education and research in mass communication history. Members work to raise historical standards and ensure that all scholars and students recognize the vast importance of media history and apply this knowledge to the advancement of society. Visit to learn more.

About The University of Texas at Arlington 

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 33,300 students and more than 2,200 faculty members in the heart of North Texas. It is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. Visit to learn more.


The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.