Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Graduate makes a study of anarchy

Lauren Golder

Lauren Golder, who graduates from DU on June 5, used an undergraduate research grant to complete her senior thesis.

Somehow, Lauren Golder became fascinated with the international anarchist movement in the 1890s. 

Golder, an honors student who graduates from DU on June 5 with a major in history and a minor in philosophy, chose the subject as her focus for her senior thesis in history.

The problem: Golder found there was limited information online. That’s where DU’s Partners in Scholarship program stepped in. Golder applied and received a grant from the program to travel to the Netherlands to do research at the International Institute for Social History.

The institute has a collection of information about the radical movement collected by historian Max Nettlau. Golder stayed in Amsterdam for a week to access the collection in person.

“I’m really glad I got the opportunity to do it,” she says. “I could see the primary documents and figure out for myself what happened.”

Golder says this group of anarchists was not a cohesive organization. But, acting independently, they were responsible for five assassinations on heads of state including President William McKinley. McKinley was shot twice by Leon Frank Czolgosz on Sept. 5, 1901 and died 8 days later from his wounds.

Golder says this group’s intention was to get rid of the state; they thought government inhibited human progress. However, she says, their actions had the opposite effect.

Instead of eliminating government, it increased nationalism, Golder says. People began to fear foreigners and increased restrictions on immigration laws.

“I really appreciate the history department; it has such a strong thesis program,” she says. “You develop good skills in history and in research in general as well.”

Carol Helstosky, associate professor of history, is Golder’s adviser.

“Lauren is eager to learn about everything!” Helstosky says. “She applied a very high level of interest and enthusiasm in looking at the history of anarchism.”

Helstosky says the grants help history students obtain real-life experience. While the Internet is useful, not everything is available online.

“I think the experience of actually going to the sources does much to build student confidence and ability to shape a project from a [sometimes] disparate collection of evidence,” she says.

Golder will take some time off after graduation but plans to attend graduate school.

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