Skip to main content


Share on:

Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Rising senior and honors student Erin DaRe is one of 10 students selected for the 2024 Summer Research Fellowship at Westminster. The history major from Mars, Pa., is researching “Do Hobbyists View History Differently?” with Dr. Angela Lahr, associate professor of history. Outside of the classroom, DaRe is a peer tutor, a peer success coach and has been an active member of the campus’ Gaming Guild.

Why did you apply for the summer research fellowship?
I applied to this fellowship because I think that humanities research deserves a little extra love—it’s much different than working in a lab, and people from other fields may not understand what research in history looks like. It’s not just reading books—it’s about exploring and looking for connections that might have never been noticed before. We go in with a question, but we don’t necessarily have a hypothesis, and that makes the research more fun, in my opinion. I also wanted to further my career in the hopes of writing a paper that can be published. Additionally, Dr. Lahr is wonderful, and I love working with her, so having a faculty mentor to help guide my research was greatly appealing.
Can you briefly describe your project?
My project is an oral history, meaning I am conducting interviews regarding a group of people who are interested in a specific antique car—the Tucker 48. I’m looking to see if their hobby has any impact on how they view history—especially since the car was produced right after World War II and at the onset of the Cold War—and if there are any patterns in their viewpoints.

What have you learned from your collaboration with Dr. Lahr? What kinds of insight and support does she contribute to your project?
Dr. Lahr is a great resource for this project because she supplies great sources for the context the Tucker 48 was created in. Since she studies the Cold War, she has a lot of background knowledge on it and can help me produce questions that are aimed at seeing if this period of history has an impact on modern Tucker fans. She has also been helping me navigate ethical practices for doing interviews and getting Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for this project. Oral history is in a gray area when it comes to whether or not it requires approval by a board, and many institutions have different guidelines regarding this particular form of research.
What aspects of research have been your favorite and most challenging?
My favorite part of doing research is always seeing where the evidence is going to take me. Doing background readings gives me a better understanding of the context behind the Tucker 48, something that interviewees might not necessarily focus on, and helps me search for meaning. The lack of guidelines surrounding what to do with oral history—does it need IRB approval or not?—has generally been the most difficult part of this project. Different institutions all have different beliefs, and it’s interesting to look at some of their opinions on the matter. Currently, there are no guidelines for oral history at Westminster, so we are navigating ethics training and creating an IRB application.

How do you think your work as a student researcher will shape your future student and career success?
I hope that this experience will greatly improve my research skills. Doing research pages in college was a culture shock from high school, and I had no idea how much I didn’t know. I feel that grade school teaches you how to find and write down information, but college has taught me how to think. I’ve learned how to create my own, unique research questions that don’t come from a prompt. While I certainly haven’t perfected it, doing more research will help me strengthen my skills in creating a unique scholarship that can be added to my résumé.

What is your favorite thing about being a Westminster student?
My favorite thing about being a Westminster student is the close interaction that we have with faculty and staff members. I would never have survived at a large institution with professors who don’t know my name. I feel like everyone in Westminster’s history department is rooting for our personal success, and they are all willing to go the extra mile to help us achieve it. I have been provided with a lot of opportunities, especially internships, that I may never have known about if I was simply a number in a class list.  

What are your plans for the future?
My future plans include going to graduate school so I can hopefully someday become a professor of history. That’s why this summer fellowship is so important to me—adding a published paper to my résumé will hopefully give me that extra boost that will help me stand out. Additionally, professors continue to do research after they graduate, so the more research experience I can get, the better.

To learn more about Westminster’s Department of History, visit

Sponsored by the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research, Summer Research Fellowships at Westminster College allow students to conduct hands-on research and creative projects under the guidance of our experienced faculty mentors.