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History in his hands

Nicholas D’Angelo
Hometown: Stormville, N.Y.
Major: Economics, History
Minor: Political Science

Andrew Morris
Professor of History

Nicholas D’Angelo has had a long-standing fascination with Barry Goldwater, the late five-term senator from Arizona. So he was thrilled at the chance to hold this political trailblazer’s personal papers in his hands as part of his senior thesis research on Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign against Lyndon B. Johnson.

Thanks to help from his adviser, Associate Professor of History Andrew Morris, Nick was able to access primary resources about the election at Arizona State University’s Barry Goldwater Collection. 

Professor Morris helped him secure financing for the trip through the History Department and Union’s student research fund. 

“I spent six hours a day for six days straight going through Goldwater’s papers,” says Nick. “It was 75 degrees and sunny every day in Phoenix that January, but I was buried in the library. I knew I had only one shot to collect my resources.” 

Nick sees Goldwater as “a forgotten man of political history. He was incredibly independent. Unlike today’s politicians, who have teams of strategists, Goldwater would never let anybody tell him what to do – what tie to wear on camera or what to say in an interview. I respect that.”

When Nick returned to campus, he and Professor Morris pored over campaign documents and letters written by Goldwater to the likes of Johnson, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

“Nick and I are both fascinated by political history,” Morris says. “It was incredible to have immediate access to those letters – like being a fly on the wall. It’s so important for students to avail themselves of those resources whenever possible. I want them to literally get their hands dirty with history.”

Political junkie

Nick has already played a small part in his home state’s own political history. In high school, while serving on a congressional campaign, he helped defeat a two-term incumbent. Later, he was a campaign manager for a candidate in a New York State Assembly race.

“I was in my second month at Union at the time,” Nick says. “There I was, fielding campaign calls and writing press releases in between classes. We had a shoestring budget – no money and virtually no staff. We didn’t expect to win, but we developed a strong narrative, and in the end the other candidate received 34 percent of the vote and we received 33 percent. It was an excellent showing.”          

Following his graduation, Nick is attending St. John’s University School of Law in Queens, N.Y., on a full scholarship. But politics may also be in his future.

“People often ask me if law is a career or a means to a career,” he says. “I will say this: It would be nice to see a modern-day Goldwater on the ticket.” 

This student/professor duo works side by side:

Click play (above) or view on VIMEO