Doctoral Candidate

Entered 2018


B.A. Cornell University

Sam Schirvar studies twentieth century United States and Native American history with a focus on technology, labor, and economic development.

His dissertation, tentatively titled “Manufacturing Self-Determination”, studies the emergence and spread of electronics manufacturing as a strategy of Native American and Black economic development from the 1950s to the 1990s. This dissertation compares the different meanings that manufacturing held for electronics technicians, community and business leaders, and government officials; explores debates around how collective ownership of industrial capital supported political and economic self-determination; and traces how federal contracts for goods and services affected political strategies in tribal governments and community development organizations. This research is supported by the Tomash Fellowship at the Charles Babbage Institute; a Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellowship at the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Air and Space Museum; a Research Fellowship from the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine; the Hagley Museum and Library; and several grants from the University of Pennsylvania.

Sam’s earlier research explores the relationship between the emergence of the field of Human-Computer Interaction and the reorganization of office work around personal computers in the 1970s and 1980s United States.

Research Interests

20th Century US history; political history; labor history; Cold War science and technology; Native American history; history of computing

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