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Announcing the Winners of the 2022 Mendel Sato Research Award

The Washington University Libraries are excited to announce the winners of the second annual Mendel Sato Research Award. Congratulations to Washington University students Kyle Melles and Emily Bielski on their insightful, well-researched projects that explore unique primary source material and documents from the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections.

Kyle Melles (BA History and Economics ’22) won the award for his essay, “United States v. Black Jack: Poverty and Welfare in St. Louis,” written for the class “Poverty and Social Reform in American History” taught by Professor Kristoffer Smemo in spring 2022. He did extensive research with primary sources in Special Collections using the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri Records, the Urban League of St. Louis Records, as well as various secondary sources.

Kyle Melles

His paper highlights legal briefs from both defendants and plaintiffs, correspondence from citizens of Black Jack, as well as contemporary newspaper reports, to give an in-depth analysis of this landmark case and its impact on citizens. In his statement of support, Smemo wrote that Melles, “revisited the case of Black Jack to shed new light on the ways that the defense of metropolitan segregation shaped and reshaped patterns of inequality in St. Louis in the late twentieth century.”

Emily Bielski (MFA-IVC ’23) received the award for her digital exhibition, “Things Terrible and Unguessable: The Turn of the Screw and the Visual Vocabulary of Gothic Horror” created for the spring 2022 class “Special Collections: Exhibition and Engagement” with Libraries faculty Skye Lacerte and Joy Novak as part of the MFA in Illustration and Visual Culture (MFA-IVC) program.

Her exhibition analyzes the illustrations of the Henry James novella The Turn of the Screw, originally published in a serialized format in Collier’s Weekly in 1898, and compares them to a later film adaptation, The Innocents, directed by Jack Clayton in 1961. 

Emily Bielski
Emily Bielski

Using primary source material from the Walt Reed Illustration Archive held in the D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library, Bielski examines the way this imagery became a trope of gothic fiction appearing in periodicals such as The Ladies’ Home Journal and others. In her statement of support for Bielski, Lacerte wrote, “Emily effectively demonstrated the lasting impact of the original illustrations on the visualization of gothic horror.” 

We are delighted to share both projects on Washington University Libraries’ Open Scholarship Institutional Repository: 

You can view past winning projects on the Mendel Sato Research Award Projects page on Open Scholarship.