By Maria Gil
Henry “Hank” Voegtle graduated with a history degree in 1974 when FIU only had five history professors. Since then, the Department of History has grown exponentially and, throughout the years, its faculty and students have earned numerous awards for their research.
To give back to his alma mater and strengthen research opportunities for budding history scholars, Voegtle – who practiced law for 40 years and served as both Assistant District Attorney for Dallas County, Texas and an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas – recently established the first fellowship endowment in the Department of History.
The Henry J. Voegtle History Endowment is a yearly $1,000 scholarship that will support undergraduate or graduate researchers who focus on topics regarding the history of Florida or the Southern U.S.
The scholarship will provide economic assistance for students to access archival material or conduct research trips.
“I wanted the emphasis on local history,” said Voegtle. “In high school, you only get a trickle of history. You really want to learn from the bottom to top, not from top to bottom of history.”
Trevor Bryant, a Ph.D. student focusing on Florida’s history, was the first student to receive the fellowship during the fall 2018 semester.
He will use the endowment to travel to Seville, Spain and conduct archival research in the Archivo General de Indias (AGI). There he will continue his investigation of slavery and black society in eighteenth-century Florida.
His research focuses on how slaves and free people of color resisted the Atlantic slave trade by forming networks of families and friends in Florida during the time of Spanish conquistadors.
At the AGI, Bryant plans to purchase copies of various documents that demonstrate how black men and women shaped Florida’s multiracial and multicultural identity while they sought freedom from the British Carolinas by travelling to Florida.
“[Bryant] will be able to diffuse that knowledge to others,” said Voegtle. “If you have a love of history you are going to pass that love on.”