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Third straight award goes to Bethel history student paper

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- For the third year in a row, and for the fourth time in five years, a Bethel College history graduate has won the Kansas History Teachers Association Award for Best Undergraduate History Paper (Category I). David Unruh, Wichita, a 2004 Bethel graduate, had his paper, "Changing Views of Suicide in the Progressive Era," chosen as the best in the category restricted to seminar-length history research papers.

Unruh wrote the paper for his senior seminar under the principle direction of his advisor, Dr. Penelope Adams Moon, assistant professor of history at Bethel College.

Using obituaries from Kansas newspapers and county historical records, Unruh demonstrated how social attitudes toward suicide changed in the late 19th and early 20th century, focusing in particular on the attitudes of Harvey County residents. He found that social taboos against suicide lessened between 1890 and 1930, as economic and religious changes as well as new fields of study such as psychology and sociology, helped give people a sense of the circumstances that might lead a person to take his/her life.

Unruh will receive a $125 cash award and a one-year subscription to "The Journal of the West." In addition, he will present the paper at the 2005 Kansas History Teachers Association Conference in Kansas City, Kan., April 23.

Unruh currently lives in Lawrence and is preparing to begin graduate study in anthropology at the University of Kansas this fall.

James Regier, Newton, won the award in 2004, Jacob Gunden, North Newton, in 2003, and Sonya McDonald, St. Ann, Mo., in 2001.

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