Melissa Lauer

Melissa Lauer, Undergraduate student, English and Creative Writing, Studio Art

Writes about lost legacies


What is your degree program and expected graduation date? I am double majoring in English Creative Writing and Studio Art with a focus in printmaking, and will graduate in May 2019.

Please describe your research: Currently, I am researching the history of Wheatley-Provident Hospital, the first private institution in Kansas City to serve and train African Americans; Dr. John Edward Perry, a black doctor from Texas who founded the hospital; and the history of the Kansas City area itself. I’m working with a wealth of archival materials – photographs, newspaper articles, a memoir, etc. – to build all of this into a longform creative nonfiction essay.

In simple terms, why does this research matter? Wheatley-Provident hospital is more than just an abandoned building: it is an example of the life and legacy that we forget when we do not to look at or think about forgotten places and the people whose lives happened around and inside of them. My thesis, the final product of this research, invites readers to practice an ethic of memory, offering an opportunity for more people to participate in active remembering.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I began my targeted research on Weatley-Provident for my honors thesis in the spring of my junior year, but I have been engaged in historical research for other creative nonfiction projects since the beginning of my freshman year.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? My research has always been instrumental to my most ambitious and rewarding creative projects. It has allowed me to push myself further in the projects I care about most while connecting me both with faculty members and the larger communities that I learn from and hope to reach in turn.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I look forward to pursuing a higher degree in history or book conservation while maintaining my creative writing and craft practices.

Faculty mentor/advisor: Inara Verzemnieks

Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa



Banner location: University Capitol Centre—