Doctoral Student Races to Catch Dutch Explorer

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From left, Diana Timmer, curator at The Hague Historical Museum, and UT Arlington doctoral candidate Mylynka Kilgore Cardona review personal items from Dutch explorer and aristocrat Alexine Tinne. (Photo contributed)

A last-minute trip to Europe to view rare source materials will help one UT Arlington doctoral candidate complete her dissertation in the next year.

Mylynka Kilgore Cardona, a student in the Department of History’s Transatlantic Ph.D. program, traveled to The Hague, Netherlands, earlier this year to catch the tail-end of an exhibit on Alexine Tinne, a 19th century Dutch aristocrat and explorer who is the focus of Cardona’s research.

“Tinne is a fascinating case in transatlantic history because she traveled in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, but became known in the United States only after her death,” Cardona said. “When I learned of the exhibit in late January, I had to make immediate plans to travel to The Hague before it closed in mid-February.”

Personal items such as letters and photographs are a part of The Hague Historical Museum’s exhibit “Alexine Tinne: The African adventures of an aristocratic lady.” The items offer not only a glimpse into the life of this Dutch female explorer, Cardona said, but also provide context into the legacy she left behind.

“My research hones in on this overlooked portion of her biography: her transatlantic afterlife,” she said. “Placing her in this context provides challenge to analyses in both the contemporary perception of her by Victorians and the image of her, and more specifically its usage, in both the United States and Europe after her death.

“Studying her is important because writing a fuller biography of Tinne addresses issues of perception and memory, and forces us to think about how we, as historians, categorize women when including them in the larger historical narrative.”

While in The Hague, Cardona worked with exhibit curator Diana Timmer and Tinne scholar Robert Willink and examined items donated to the museum by the Tinne family. She said she was able to add previously unseen materials to her research files.

And even though the exhibition was extended to late last month, Cardona said she didn’t mind scrambling across the Atlantic for an up-close-and-personal look at her dissertation subject.

“Traveling to the Netherlands boosted my research, my source materials, my networking with important scholars in the field and my excitement about my project,” she said.

Cardona’s travel to The Hague was made possible through a 2013 Festival of Ideas Global Research Institute Fellowship. Each year the College of Liberal Arts awards three to five research fellowship to graduate students.

Cardona and Timmer examine additional materials on Alexine Tinne at The Hague Historical Museum in The Hague, Netherlands. (Photo contributed)
Cardona (left) and Timmer examine additional materials on Alexine Tinne at The Hague Historical Museum in The Hague, Netherlands. (Photo contributed)

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