Feature Stories 2019: Daniel Everton '19: undergraduate research

Daniel Everton
Feature Stories 2019: Daniel Everton '19: undergraduate research
Daniel Everton '19: undergraduate research

A passion for history led to a unique research opportunity and plans for graduate school.

History major Daniel Everton '19 dared to follow his passion—and it has led to unique research opportunities, plans for advanced study, and dreams of a career with an organization such as the National Park Service or the Smithsonian Institution.

Degree completion

A returning student, Daniel earned his associate's degree in health science from Bristol Community College, worked as an EMT and in retail, and served in AmeriCorps/VISTA at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.

"My amazing team at the National Park urged me to finish my degree," Daniel said. "They watched over my shoulder as, at age 29, I applied to UMass Dartmouth. When I got accepted, we were all ecstatic. Working with history and interpretation is my jam, so majoring in history felt like a great fit."

"UMassD's history program is a significant and hidden gem," he said. "The faculty are motivated, kind, and point you in the right direction. Truthfully, I would not be where I am today without the encouragement from the faculty and staff of the History Department. They are more family to me than my biological one."

Summer research stipend

Last year, Daniel received an Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) summer stipend for his project "To Counterfeit is Death: Photogrammetry of Benjamin Franklin's Print Plates." Working with a team from Bryn Mawr College, he used photogrammetry (the art and science of making measurements from objects) to study Franklin's print plates for currency.

"Franklin was able to obtain the bid to print currency due to his very well-guarded secret of how he made his plates," Daniel said. "They were not engravings, they were not woodcuts, but actual molds crafted with such fine detail of leaves and flora that no one afterward has been able to recreate."

As he explained, photogrammetry allows objects to be seen more clearly than with the naked eye, allowing for digital renderings that can be 3D printed.

Sage leaf block - photo by Daniel W. Everton
Sage leaf block - photo by Daniel W. Everton

Franklin's mysterious leaf blocks

"Dr. Jessica Linker of Bryn Mawr found one of the mysterious leaf blocks that Franklin used, and it was an opportunity of a lifetime to work with her on the project. Her team of fellow undergraduate researchers are a force to reckon with. They taught me how to do photogrammetry, and let me document the whole project. My favorite part was having the opportunity to analyze the Library Company of Philadelphia's colonial currency collection and identifying the counterfeits."

Harking back to the popular 2004 film, he said, "It was a very National Treasure vibe, sans Nicolas Cage's accent.

"The project as a whole will be an exhibit online for The Library Company of Philadelphia, and the scans we have are still being perfected. We have some preliminary ideas of how Franklin made these blocks—which is Dr. Linker's focus—while mine was more the technical end of photogrammetry and field documentation. With the better scans, we can finally make an exact copy. Or counterfeit. Whichever word you prefer."

Final 3D render - sage leaf block. Screenshot by Digital Scholarship Fellows and Jessica Linker
Final 3D render of the sage leaf block - screenshot courtesy of Digital Scholarship Fellows and Jessica Linker

Life-changing opportunity

Acknowledging the faculty and staff of OUR, the History Department, and the College of Arts & Sciences, Daniel said, "This research opportunity was life changing. I have a very solid purpose now, knowing my love of old objects, artifacts, and creative thinking are valued and can be applied in the fields that I want to work in."

"As an artist and a scholar, I feel that all my research ultimately uses a lot of interdisciplinary skills and methods. I primarily focus on colonization, artifacts, queerness, history, interpretation, and the relationship of North America and Africa."

Daniel was a winner of the Kingston-Mann Award for his essay "Dressing Herero Women: The Ethnogenesis of Herero Women Pre- and Post-Colonization." Other research topics have ranged from "Panleid: Queered Portuguese Masculinity" to "Missing Link: The Puzzles Incident Documentary."

Next step: graduate school

When Daniel entered UMassD, he had not considered the possibility of graduate school.

"Now, I'm scrambling, thinking of which PhD I should go for! I'm crossing my fingers too tightly, because I applied to enter into archaeology/anthropology or history programs. I also applied to an MFA in Film program, since I love documentary work and production. I am a scholar and an artist, so I don't think I will ever stop learning or creating."

Daniel's goal is "to return to work with the National Park Service one day, or even the Smithsonian."

Home base, hometown

"The Frederick Douglass Unity House has been a home base on campus for me," Daniel said. "Their team is amazing, and their programs, films, and activism are one of my favorite things about UMassD."

No matter where his studies take him, Daniel will not forget his hometown. "I was also born and raised in New Bedford, and have always served my city in my work—I don't expect to stop that anytime soon."

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