John O'Brien wasn't expecting to win the award for best paper at the Phi Alpha Theta Alabama Regional Meeting in Tuscaloosa last month. But that's exactly what the history major and brand-new graduate of The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) did with his presentation on migration and divorce in antebellum North Alabama. An Alabama native, O'Brien first became interested in the topic while taking Women in U.S. History with Dr. Christine Sears. &quot;I brought up the fact that Alabama has strange divorce laws and she suggested I look into it,&quot; he says. So he did. &quot;I was like, I'm going to drink a beer and look at our first constitution!&quot; he laughs. What he learned from that 1819 document was that divorce in Alabama at the time required approval from two-thirds of the state legislature – &quot;a leftover from British precedent,&quot; says O'Brien. It was a complicated, expensive, and time-consuming process, and as a result, he says, &quot;divorce was the rarest form of dissolving a marriage&quot; in the region.