I MMA C U L ATA MA G A Z I N E * S UMM E R 2 0 1 4
Although it may be hard for women of today to comprehend the
constraints of securing and keeping a gender-appropriate job in the
late eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Immaculata
University History major Melanie Dudley ’14 has written two award-
winning papers addressing this topic.
Earning Best Paper on American History from 1865-1920 at the 2014
Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference, Dudley’s
Women’s Employment in
Philadelphia Department Stores, 1870-1920
is an impressive history lesson
on the topic of women gaining employment in the then-nascent field of
retail department stores. In 2013, Dudley’s historical research was just as
Women in Business in Southeastern Pennsylvania during
the Colonial, Revolutionary, and Early National Periods in American History
earning her a best paper award.
As a History major at Immaculata University, Dudley recognizes
and appreciates the foundation built by these early American women.
Her research explores the very limited options for single women and the
almost non-existent options for married women of that time period.
“I am very interested in the link between women’s history and
business history. I think that it is important for us to remember that
women have long been integral, but often overlooked, participants in the
American economy,” noted Dudley on her research findings.
A native of Wilmington, DE, this fall Dudley will begin a master’s
degree in History, with a focus on American History and Public History,
at Villanova University. She plans to earn a certificate in Non-profit
Management from Villanova as well. After completing her education,
Dudley would like to pursue a position at a museum or an archival facility,
or maybe one day return to Immaculata as a professor—professions not
available to the women of Dudley’s research era.
However many dreams one has, hard work is a prerequisite for
goal attainment. Dudley, an honors student, certainly is dedicated and
hardworking. While a student at Immaculata, she served as: president of
the National History Honor Society for the Immaculata chapter of Phi
Alpha Theta during her junior and senior years; member of the Theta
Alpha Kappa, a National Honor Society for Theology and Religious
Studies; and member of the Immaculata Honor Society. She also served as
president of the Immaculata Photography Club for two years. Expanding
her knowledge of history, Dudley has volunteered at Winterthur Museum
since 2006. During her junior year, she completed an internship with
the curatorial department at Winterthur, and in the process, was able to
receive class credits towards her History major.
“I am so proud of Melanie, as a scholar and as a person,” commented
Sarah Trembanis, Ph.D., associate professor of History at Immaculata.
“She demonstrates the very best qualities that we strive to encourage in our
students.” Trembanis accompanied Dudley to the Regional Conference.
Just as the women whom she studied for her research projects were
an inspiration to generations of working women, Melanie Dudley
will undoubtedly serve as an inspiration to those who follow in her