Felix Wright is an International Relations of the Americas MSc student (2018/19). Here he tells us about her fieldwork trip to Austin Texas.
As a result of the travel grant from the UCL Institute of the Americas I was privileged to be able to spend 2 weeks in Austin Texas at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. My dissertation chiefly concerned the Johnson Administration’s response to the 1965 Dominican Intervention and in particular the domestic political considerations that influenced the development of American Foreign Policy toward the crisis.
This approach has long been absent in traditional scholarship and though my initial research, focused on recently digitised telephone records, was useful it could only paint a limited portrait. The travel grant allowed me however to access key White House memorandums, cables and notes held in the library itself that contributed massively to work and reinforced my initial decision to study the topic.
It was also interesting from a personal note to see other correspondence amid the crisis, whether it was literary giant John Steinbeck complimenting Johnson on his policy, Former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman rebuking the President as a 23-year-old student, or my personal favourite - some loudmouth ex-actor in California criticising the intervention but dismissed by an aide as “going nowhere”- Ronald Reagan.
Being able to work with raw documents used by these figures in making these massive decisions some 60 years ago was a phenomenal experience, whilst Austin itself was an amazing city to explore. This research trip was been the highlight of my academic career – without the grant it would not have been possible. I thoroughly recommend it to any future students.