UM History Doctoral Student Wins American Antiquarian Fellowship

April 12, 2017

Pat O'ConnorMISSOULA – Pat O’Connor, a doctoral candidate in the University of Montana’s history department, recently won an American Antiquarian Society Peterson Fellowship for his studies on the tobacco industry in the United States.

A native of western Massachusetts, O’Connor completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. He became UM’s first George M. and Jane I. Dennison Doctoral Fellow in 2014.

O’Connor’s AAS Fellowship includes a stipend of $1,850 and a one-month residency at the society. The stipend is derived from the income on an endowment provided by the late Hall J. Peterson and his wife, Kate B. Peterson. The fellowship is awarded to individuals engaged in scholarly research and writing – including doctoral dissertations – in any field of American history and culture through 1876.

In his project, O’Connor studies the relationship between government and the tobacco industry in the U.S. from the Civil War to the Great Depression. He examines the federal government’s promotion of the industry and support of its dominance in the global market, as well as the regulations at state and local levels that establish age and gender restrictions for tobacco purchase and punishment for smoking and spitting publicly.

His research aims to answer the question: What does it tell us about the nature of American governance in this period that one could be fined, even arrested, for engaging in something his or her government has explicitly promoted?

“A fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society is really transformative, as AAS’s vast and diverse holdings will enable me to augment the research for most elements of my project,” O’Connor said. “AAS has everything from very rare and fascinating analyses of the federal tobacco tax from the 1870s to important early trade newspapers like Cincinnati’s Western Tobacco Journal.”

O’Connor has relied on archival materials from the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library and the libraries of North Carolina State University, Duke University, the New York Public Library and the National Archives.

O’Connor said he is most excited to finally see the AAS collection of Civil War-era anti-tobacco broadsides, pamphlets and periodicals.

The American Antiquarian Society was founded in 1812 by Revolutionary War patriot and printer Isaiah Thomas and is both a learned society and a major independent research library. Today, the AAS library houses the largest and most accessible collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, periodicals, music and graphic arts material printed through 1876, as well as manuscripts and a substantial collection of secondary texts, bibliographies, digital resources and reference works. AAS received the 2013 National Humanities Medal by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House.

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Contact: Pat O’Connor, UM history doctoral candidate, 406-243-2231,