We’re starting a new series here at the Baylor Collections of Political Materials profiling our students and staff. To kick it off, we sat down with one of our newest additions: graduate student and intern Jeremy Schmuck.
Tell us a little about yourself, Jeremy.
I’m a native of Pensacola, FL, I have interests in military history, political science, and I do some running. Also a fan of Star Wars.
We’ll work backwards. Tell us about running. Do you do half-marathons, 10ks, 5ks?
Okay, so, when I said running, [I meant] just enough to stay mildly in shape. I wouldn’t say that I do any competition running either as an amateur or a professional.
So you’ve never done the Bearathon?
I have not, and I need to do it! I’ve also heard there’s a fun run — the Gut Pak Run?
I’d never do [the Gut Pak Run]; it seems terrifying.
Yeah, I don’t think I would do that.
Let’s talk military history. I’m assuming you study American military history?
European, actually, and particularly German. I’d say from the 1700s to the 1950s or so.
Why that particular era?
That’s kind of your beginning of your modern warfare and its got some of your biggest global conflicts, I guess you could say, going on at that time.
My knowledge of European history is lacking. Is that in terms of Prussians, Ottomans, or …?
All of them. That’s one of the reasons I like it. You’re dealing with, say, at the very beginning of the 1700s, you’d have the War of Spanish Succession (which is like the first “world war,” something you’d never had before), then in the 1800s you have Napoleon right at the turn of the century. And then, of course, in 1914 to 1918 and also 1940 to 1945 [World War I and] World War II. All those are really global conflicts. There are also a lot of societal changes going on at the time, and we can see how war and the way war was conducted has and effect on society. A lot of changes all going on at the same time.
Anything specific leap to mind?
Sure. One of the classic examples from World War II is Rosie the Riveter, right? We see a lot of women empowerment from that. But even if we go back to the Napoleonic period, the revolutionary armies of Napoleon tended to spread a lot of ideals that become difficult to suppress, so in the 1840s we see a lot of revolts because of what was disseminated at the turn of the century.
Is there a German equivalent of that “Rosie the Riveter” ethos?
That’s the thing that’s most interesting about the Germans; they never fully mobilized their industry in World War II in the same way that you’d expect in a total war. That’s one of the reasons they lost. They don’t start to amp up their production until 1944, 1945, when basically the war’s already lost. And instead of turning to their citizenry to do it, they turn to slave labor. They are really determined to try and make sure the German citizens’ lives are impacted as little as possible by the war in order to stay in power. That’s another interesting concept: the connection between war and staying in power as a politician.
Is that relationship between war and the culture that comes out of it what you focus on regarding military history?
That’s one of the things I get out of it. The other thing is [that] war makes really good reading. International Relations is my actual field that I’m majoring in.
Where were you before this?
I was working as a litigation assistant in Florida [for] a national firm that does injury claims. [The PhD] is something I’ve always wanted to do. The [litigation] work was more of a hiatus than a career.
What are you working on at the BCPM right now?
They have me working on the papers of Ed Gossett and also Chet Edwards’s state senator papers. It’s been very interesting to see how many different issues all connected during the 1950s. For instance, the nativist elements in America, how they connected anti-Semitism and communism together to the issue of communism. Those were all kind of bundled together, along with Palestine, I suppose.
How did you come to the BCPM?
I tried for the Poage specifically. I saw it as an opportunity to get hands-on experience with the archives and to work with great people.