MOUNT VERNON, VA – Almost six months after its grand opening, the new Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon has selected eighteen established and emerging scholars to serve as its newest class of fellows. The fellowship recipients will utilize the resources available at Mount Vernon and its new Library to conduct research in residence between September 2014 and August 2015 in six-month, three-month, and one-month terms.


During the course of their studies, these distinguished scholars will uncover new insights on the life, leadership, and legacy of Washington and the era in which he lived. Their proposed research topics range from the slave trade, to Washington’s role in early-American agriculture, to the process of defining executive powers.


The fellowship program is a key educational initiative of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which opened the new 45,000-square-foot Library in September 2013. The Library safeguards original books and manuscripts and serves as a center for scholarly research, leadership training, and educational outreach. The fellowship program launched immediately after the facility’s grand opening, welcoming an inaugural class of seven scholars.

With its 2014-2015 class, the Library is building on a successful inaugural year by adding one-month opportunities. “For some of the applicants, a month-long fellowship simply provided a better fit,” said Doug Bradburn, PhD, the Library’s founding director. “By offering these shorter terms of study, we are able to support a broader range of research. As a result, we’re making Mount Vernon a more vibrant center of scholarship with a richer network of experts.”

The following scholars have been named as part of the Library’s 2014-2015 class and are listed with their proposed topic of study:

Recipients of six-month fellowships
Ms. Kate Elizabeth Brown, Ph. D. candidate in American History, University of Virginia James C. Rees Fellowship on the Leadership of George Washington
“Defining the Contours of Executive Authority: Washington, Hamilton, and Development of the Prerogative Power in Early Republican Law”
Dr. Bruce A. Ragsdale, Director of the Federal Judicial History Office
James C. Rees Entrepreneurship Fellowship funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation
“George Washington at the Plow: Agriculture and Leadership in the Age of Revolution”
Dr. Dana John Stefanelli, Ph. D. in History
“Building America’s Capital: George Washington’s City and the Economic Development of the United States”

Recipients of three-month fellowships
Mr. Michael A. Blaakman, Ph. D. candidate in Early American History, Yale University
“Speculation Nation: George Washington and His Fellow Land Speculators in the Age of the American Revolution”
Ms. Kristen D. Burton, Ph. D. candidate in History, University of Texas, Arlington
“John Barleycorn vs. Sir Richard Rum; Alcohol, the Atlantic, and the Distilling of Colonial Identity, 1650-1800”
Ms. Erin E. Eisenbarth, Ph.D. candidate in Decorative Arts, Design and Material Culture, Bard Graduate Center in New York
“Imagining the Founding Fathers: The Kountze Collection of George Washington Memorabilia and the Formation of American Identity”
Mr. Brendan J. Gillis, Ph. D. candidate in History, Indiana University
“George Washington as Imperial Magistrate: Justice of the Peace, Local Authority, and Revolution in Virginia”
Dr. Nicholas P. Wood, Adjunct Professor, University of Virginia
“Considerations of Humanity and Expediency: The Slave Trades and African Colonization in EAR Antislavery”

The recipients of one-month fellowships
Dr. Denver Brunsman, Assistant Professor of History, The George Washington University
“Citizens and Subjects: British Naval Impressment in the Revolutionary Atlantic”
Dr. Cassandra Good, Assistant Editor of the Papers of James Monroe, University of Mary Washington
“George Washington’s Descendants and the Politics of Family in Early America”
Mr. Michael Hattem, Ph. D. candidate in History, Yale University
“‘Their history as part of ours’; History Culture and Historical Memory in British America, 1720-1776”
Mr. Benjamin C. Lyons, Ph. D. candidate in U. S. History, Columbia University
“John Jay and the Law of Nations in the Diplomacy of the American Revolution”
Dr. Holly A. Mayer, History Department Chair, Duquesne University
“Congress’ Own: The 2nd Canadian Regiment’s War for Independence”
Ms. Mary Richie McGuire, Ph. D. candidate in Science and Technology Studies, Virginia Tech
“Translating Natural Knowledge in an Age of Revolution: Tobacco, People, and Science in Benjamin Henry LaTrobe’s Virginia Journals 1795-1798”
Mr. Brett Palfreyman, Ph. D. candidate in Early American History, Binghamton University “Peace Process: The Reintegration of the Loyalists in Post-Revolutionary America”
Mr. Craig Bruce Smith, Ph. D. candidate in U. S. History, Brandeis University
“Rightly to be Great: Ideas of Honor, Virtue and Ethics among the American Founders”
Dr. John H. Sprinkle, Jr., Research Faculty member, University of Maryland, Architecture Planning & Preservation
“Frances Payne Bolton and the Preservation of George Washington’s ‘Overview’”
Dr. Timothy D. Walker, Associate Professor of History, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth
“Commercial Relations between Mount Vernon Estate and Portugal: Commodities, Ports & Merchants”

To learn more about the Library fellows, please visit MountVernon.org/Fellows2014. Mount Vernon selected the fellows after a review of applicants by an independent jury. During their terms of study, the scholars will stay at the Richard and Helen DeVos House, a 7,300-square-foot residence situated near the main entrance of the Library.

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