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Announcing the Winners of the 2023 Mendel Sato Research Award

The Washington University Libraries are excited to announce the winners of the third annual Mendel Sato Research Award. Congratulations to Washington University students Lexie Jordon and Danielle Ridolfi on their excellent projects that explore and highlight unique primary source material and documents from the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections.

Lexie Jordon (BA, Educational Studies and American Culture Studies ’23) won the award for her Latin honors thesis, “Protests Will Succeed with Persistence”: Student Activism for Curricular Change at Washington University in St. Louis, 1968–1990, completed in the spring 2023 semester. Her thesis is the culmination of many months of work in the archives and examines three academic student movements that occurred at Washington University: the protests and actions that created academic programs in Black studies and women’s studies, and students protesting the dissolution of the sociology department. Jordon’s thesis synthesizes a large number of primary source materials from multiple collections including the Black Manifesto Collection, the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Administrative Papers, the Department of African and African-American Studies Records, and others in a project that illustrates archival research at its best.

Woman in a Blue shirt and glasses
Lexie Jordon

Professor Noah Cohan, assistant director of American Cultural Studies, writes in a statement of support that Jordon “built a persuasive overarching argument that each represents a significant moment when students at WashU defended their academic freedom by demanding that the university accommodate their curricular needs and emphasized that knowing this history matters for current and future students.”

Danielle Ridolfi (MFA–IVC ’23) received the award for her exhibition, Flat Out Rebellion: The Rule Breaking Career of Designer-Illustrator Seymour Chwast, created for an independent study course under the direction of Skye Lacerte, curator of Dowd Illustration Research Archive, as part of the MFA in Illustration and Visual Culture (MFA–IVC) program. The exhibition was on display in John M. Olin Library during the fall of 2022. Ridolfi performed extensive research with the Seymour Chwast Collection, the Walt Reed Illustration Archive, and the Ink Tank Archive, as well as transcribed a recorded oral history created by the Libraries in 2015 when Seymour Chwast visited campus.

Photo of Danielle Ridolfi.
Danielle Ridolfi

In a letter of support for Ridolfi, Lacerte writes, “The content of the transcription directly influenced Danielle’s final exhibition thesis which focused on Chwast’s children’s book illustrations and how his sense of rebellion influenced the style and content of his work. Danielle’s role as curator showcased her strengths in formulating sophisticated concepts and making them accessible and straightforward.”

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.