The Portal to Texas History 2018 Research Fellowship Awardee - Shay O'Brien

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The University of North Texas Libraries invite applications for the 2017 The Portal to Texas History Research Fellowship. Research using the Portal is relevant to studies in a variety of disciplines including history, journalism, political science, geography, and American studies. We encourage applicants to think creatively about the opportunities that research with large digital library collections can enable. Preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate the greatest potential for publication and the best use of The Portal to Texas History.

The Portal to Texas History 2018 Research Fellowship Awardee

Shay O’Brien

Project Title

Mapping Elite Social Networks in Dallas, 1896-1956

Project Description

Using social registers supplemented by the Portal to Texas History and other archival sources, Ms. O’Brien is building a comprehensive longitudinal dataset of members of Dallas high society from 1896-1956. She is compiling information on each person’s basic biographical data, family relationships, close friendships, home addresses, and organizational memberships, such as churches and synagogues, workplaces, schools, and social clubs. When the dataset is complete, Ms. O’Brien will use it as the basis of numerous studies, beginning with one on the impact of the 1930 oil boom on the centers of Dallas sociopolitical power.


Shay O’Brien is a second-year Sociology student at Princeton studying elites and conservatives in the United States. Her areas of interest include economic sociology, elite sociology, race & ethnicity, and religion. Before beginning graduate school, Shay worked on a large-scale randomized control trial at the social policy research firm MDRC. She graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Anthropology, where she was a research assistant in the Anthropology department and won the prizes for Best Honors Thesis and Highest Achievement in Linguistic Anthropology.