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The George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon welcomes our eleventh class of research fellows for the 2023-24 academic year. Their research helps us better understand the history of colonial America, the Revolutionary era, and the early American republic.

Learn More about the Mount Vernon Fellowship Program 

Daniel J. Burge, Ph.D.

The Washington Doctrine: A Continental History, 1800-1920

Daniel J. Burge is an associate editor at the Kentucky Historical Society. He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Alabama and recently published his first book: A Failed Vision of Empire: The Collapse of Manifest Destiny, 1845-1872 (with the University of Nebraska Press). His second book project will analyze how Americans deployed Washington’s Farewell Address during times of conflict. Moving from the War of 1812, where Federalists used Washington’s warning to argue against war with Britain, through the U.S.-Mexican War, where Whigs redeployed similar points, all the way to World War I, this project shows that opponents of interventionism routinely wielded the Washington Doctrine to protest armed conflict. Although in its early stages, this project will restore the Washington Doctrine to its rightful place alongside the Monroe Doctrine as one of the foundational pieces of U.S. foreign policy.

Sarah F. Donovan

Transplanted Whiteboys and Sons of Paxton: Patterns of Extralegal Violence in the British Atlantic World 

Donovan is a Ph.D. Candidate at William & Mary. Her dissertation explores the relationship between the Paxton Boys, Black Boys, and Augusta Boys along the North American frontier and the Whiteboys, Oakboys, and Steelboys in Ireland throughout the 1760s and 1770s. She argues that these groups of “boys,” who adopted similar disguises and used similar tactics of violence to express similar grievances, illuminate the struggles for property and authority throughout the British Empire on the eve of the Age of Revolutions. Her work at Mount Vernon will focus on the military realities and colonial politics of the mid-Atlantic frontier in the aftermath of the Seven Years War that yielded violent extralegal groups.

Recipient of the Society of Colonial Wars Fellowship

Lindsey M. Fisher-Hunt, Ph.D.

Mapping Their Influence: The Widespread Reach of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association

Fisher-Hunt is currently a dual enrollment lecturer at Middle Tennessee State University and an adjunct faculty member at Western Kentucky University. She teaches both US history and world history with a focus on decolonization. Her dissertation, Ignored Stories, Missed Opportunities: Women’s Representation in Early-to-Mid Nineteenth Century Historic House Museums, examines public-facing interpretation of women’s history in historic house museums. She plans to use her time at Mount Vernon to examine the global impact of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association on the preservation world of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Recipient of the Amelie W. Cagle Fellowship

Edward P. Green

Power, Diplomacy, and Interdependent Sovereignty in the Choctaw Nation, 1720-1924

Ed is a Ph.D. candidate in the history department at Penn State University. He examines the development of concepts of power, authority, and legitimacy in the Choctaw Nation between the early eighteenth and early twentieth century. At Mount Vernon, he will be researching the ways that Choctaws articulated some of these concepts to outsiders in the early nineteenth century. He will also be investigating the development of early U.S. policies towards Native Americans and the ways that Choctaws attempted to influence those policies, shaping them in ways that would best protect their people.

Sally Hadden, Ph.D.

One Supreme Court

Sally Hadden is a Professor of History at Western Michigan University. She has written or edited four books, including Slave Patrols, and is the author of more than 25 articles and book chapters in the field of early American legal history. One Supreme Court, co-authored with Maeva Marcus (George Washington University), scrutinizes the first Supreme Court of the 1790s in light of its English, colonial, and Revolutionary era forebears.

Matthieu Haroux

Rochambeau and the American War of Independence (1780-1783)

Matthieu Haroux works as a history teacher at a high school near Paris. As a French PhD candidate of the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, he is currently working on the subject “Rochambeau or the culture for the military service of the State (1725-1807)”. After a great military career, Rochambeau is chosen as commandant in chief of the French expedition during the American War of Independence. At Mount Vernon, Matthieu will be working on the American bibliography regarding the Independence war and on the collections and the archives accessible only from the George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon. These databases will allow him to study the relationship between Washington, Rochambeau, Lafayette or Chastellux and to analyze the operational and tactical aspects of the war. He will also visit locations of the war.

Recipient of the James C. Rees Fellowship on the Leadership of George Washington

Cynthia A. Kierner, Ph.D.

George Washington and the Ladies of Trenton 

Cynthia Kierner is a professor of history at George Mason University. She is the author of many books, including Inventing Disaster: The Culture of Calamity from the Jamestown Colony to the Johnstown Flood (2019) and most recently The Tory’s Wife: A Woman and Her Family in Revolutionary America (2023). At Mount Vernon, she will study George Washington’s post-revolutionary tours of the American states, focusing particularly on his reception in Trenton, the only venue in which women were the festivities’ central actors. Her project examines the lives of the forty-one women and girls who welcomed Washington as their “defender” and “protector” and interprets the surprisingly numerous visual representations of this iconic episode and their role in the construction of historical memory.

Timothy A. Long

George Washington’s black velvet suits and the formative years of the United States of America

Timothy A. Long is a fashion historian, curator, and the Director of Museum Business Development and Corporate Client Services at Hindman Auctions. Long has served as Curator of Costumes at the Chicago History Museum and Curator of Fashion & Decorative Arts at the Museum of London. In his research and work, Long examines historic and contemporary fashion by linking fashion’s materiality and construction to its broader cultural significance within the complex and intertwined framework of the societies that produced it. During his tenure at Mount Vernon, Long will review the collections of surviving garments, textile fragments, and documents that are associated to George Washington, with a particular interest in items made of black velvet. This focus will help in the identification of the provenance and authenticity of the surviving black velvet items, and to place Washington’s sartorial choices into the societal and political framework of the formative years of the United States of America.

Recipient of the Dr. William M. and Betty H. Busey Family Fellowship

Laurence Machet, Ph.D.

George Washington, the Environment, and National Identity

Laurence Machet is an Associate Professor in British and American civilization and history at Bordeaux-Montaigne University, France. Her project examines George Washington not only as statesman, soldier and planter, but also as a traveler and chronicler of the environment. His experience as a surveyor when he was a young man is bound to have influenced, much later, his idea of the future of the young nation and his political vision of westward expansion. This investigation of the correspondence, survey maps, and other accounts of Washington’s travels is part of a larger project which looks at travel accounts by British or American explorers and botanists of the 18th and early 19th centuries, and how these accounts rely on the descriptions of the natural environment to delineate a soon-to-be national identity.

Dael A. Norwood, Ph.D.

The Beginnings of the Businessman

Dael Norwood is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Delaware, and the author of Trading Freedom: How Trade with China Defined Early America, published by the University of Chicago Press. His book project, The Beginnings of the Businessman, examines the emergence of the “businessman” as a potent political and cultural identity in modern America. At Mount Vernon, he will investigate how and why Americans reimagined George Washington as a paragon of business success in the early twentieth century – and what it meant to do so during one of capitalism’s most severe crises, the Great Depression.

Recipient of the James C. Rees Entrepreneurship Fellowship

John Phibbs

The Influence of English Design on Mount Vernon’s Landscape

John Phibbs is the principal of Debois Landscape Survey Group, based in Britain. He led the celebrations of the tercentenary of the landscape gardener ‘Capability’ Brown in 2016 and has published two books on Brown: Capability Brown, designing the English Landscape (Rizzoli, 2016) and Place-making, the art of Capability Brown (Historic England and the National Trust, 2017). In 2018, in recognition of his services to landscape architecture, he was awarded an MBE by the late Queen. With this fellowship he hopes to make a fresh reading of Mount Vernon’s landscape, tracing those threads of the design that had their parallels in England, with a view to providing practical and applicable solutions to some of the problems that beset the landscape today (particularly from the sheer volume of visitors). His research will take three forms: first the documentary record; second the Mount Vernon landscape itself; and third comparable 18th century landscape gardens in North America.

Meg E. Roberts

Caregiving and Crisis in the American Revolutionary War

Meg E. Roberts is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cambridge, UK. Her dissertation explores the lives, networks, and practices of caregivers during the American Revolutionary War. The project centers the precariously employed, indentured, and enslaved caregivers whose labor underpinned early American care networks, and examines the role of 'crisis' and coercion in the Continental Army's demands for civilians' caregiving labor and household resources during the war. Meg's work incorporates material as well as textual sources, such as household objects used for everyday care (e.g. nursing, washing, cleaning, and cooking), to make more tangible the experiences of caregivers who are largely absent from the archival record.

Lindsay Schakenbach Regele, Ph.D.

The Miranda Affair: A Venezuelan Patriot and the United States

Lindsay Schakenbach Regele is an associate professor of history at Miami University, Ohio. She is the author of Manufacturing Advantage: War, the State, and the Origins of American Industry, 1776-1848 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019). Her second book Flowers, Guns, and Money: Joel Roberts Poinsett and the Paradoxes of American Patriotism is forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press in 2023. At Mount Vernon, she will be working on a new project that examines the role of laborers, investors, and federal officials in an attempted rebellion in the Spanish Empire, or, what American commentators referred to as, the “Miranda Affair.” Francisco de Miranda, who sought to be the George Washington of South America, arrived in New York City in the autumn of 1805, and with the help of wealthy merchant Samuel Ogden and John Adams’s son-in-law, William Stephens Smith, organized weapons and almost two hundred American men for a military expedition that resulted in ten executions, a high-profile court case in federal court and fierce partisan debate, as Federalists and Republicans blamed each other for the results of the expedition. This project seeks to understand the significance of the “Miranda Affair” and its aftermath for the Americas’ age of revolutions.

Lucy Smith

The Atlantic Bite: Circulation, Economy, and the Meaning of Teeth in George Washington’s World

Lucy Smith is a Ph.D. candidate in the joint History and Women’s and Gender Studies program at the University of Michigan. Before graduate school, she worked in museum education at both public and private cultural institutions. Smith’s dissertation employs George Washington’s dental objects and history as a point of departure to explore the cultural history of teeth in the early American republic as individuals developed a series of systems of meanings to interpret and classify people through their teeth.

Dominic Shodekeh Talifero

Professional Breath Artist Dominic Shodekeh Talifero, through a commission with George Mason University, will be composing and arranging a vocal piece of music entitled “Breaths Along the Potomac”, which will illuminate the lives of the enslaved of George and Martha Washington at the historic Mount Vernon estate. Breath Art (a practice of creative + expressive breathing modalities) will serve as the lens through which Talifero explores the day-to-day of the enslaved communities of the past on site, with a specific focus on their “breathing realities, habits and cultures”. The labor practices they experienced, attempts at escape, the overall emotional stress, their living quarters, all of these factors that impacted their breathing, will in turn impact Shodekeh’s final Breath Art music and arrangement, which will be presented and performed live on site. The research partners of this endeavor also include the American Folklife Center and the Manuscripts division of the Library of Congress, which serves as the home of the George Washington Papers and the Towson University Special Collections & University Archives, which serves as the home of Talifero’s living archive “Ideations of Potential.”

This composition commission is supported in part by a collaborative humanities & social sciences research grant from 4-VA: Advancing the Commonwealth.

David Williard, Ph.D.

"One Part Against Another:" George Washington, Memory, and the Limits of the Second American Revolution

David Williard is Associate Professor of History at the University of St. Thomas, where he teaches and researches the Civil War and Reconstruction, emancipation, and the cultural meanings of violence and war.  His work at Mount Vernon will investigate the public memory of George Washington in the American Civil War era and its influence on American political culture.  He traces how competing narratives of Washington's legacy--slaveholder and emancipationist, martial renown and representative government, and central authority with fiercely independent states--provided the basis for a contested American civic memory through the antebellum and Civil War years.  Yet during the Civil War and in its aftermath, invoking Washington's legacy came to function as a restraining influence in American political culture—a way to police the limits of potentially revolutionary social and political change. The hero of one revolution thus placed boundaries on the meaning of another.