The Clements Library website includes events, exhibits, subject guides, newsletter issues, library staff, and more.

Home » About » Blog » 2020 Fellowships awarded to 23 Scholars

The 2020-21 competition for research fellowships at the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan saw the library receive its largest number of applications ever. As a new arrival at the Clements, reading the fellowship proposals was a wonderful way to learn about the library’s collections, since the scholars who submitted the proposals knew far more about the details of the Clements’ strengths as they related to their projects than I do. I was both delighted to learn about the breadth of the library’s holdings through the requests for support to come do research, and saddened that we could not support more of the many deserving applications we received. Over the coming years I hope that we will be able to fund more fellows for longer periods of residence than we do today.

Over 80 applicants submitted proposals, hailing from 30 different states and the District of Columbia as well as 7 countries. This range of applications is a credit to the work of Jayne Ptolemy and the Clements Library’s outreach staff, who took the publicity effort for the fellowship program to new levels this past year. But it is also a credit to everybody on the library staff. The best advertisement for any fellowship program is word of mouth, which comes from former fellows who have had a collegial and productive experience. The fact that previous researchers at the Clements have enjoyed their fellowship tenures so much is a result of the work of colleagues across the library who are dedicated to introducing scholars to the treasures in the collection.

The selection committee had a formidable task, given the depth and strength of the applicant pool, but in the end we were able to make 23 awards, to scholars from 14 states plus the District of Columbia as well as Canada and the United Kingdom. As the list of projects below displays, the Clements Library is able to support a range of innovative scholarship on the American past, from research on the racial politics of illustrated 19th-century sheet music to a study of the trade in gunpowder between European settler colonists and Native Americans in the 18th-century southeast to everyday soldiers’ experiences of religion during the American Revolution. Supported research projects will draw from all of the library’s curatorial departments, and the library staff are eager to learn more from the fellows about their work and to help them discover materials that they might not have known about when they wrote their proposals. We are also excited to be able to offer for the first time a Digital Fellowship, which involves Clements staff digitizing a specific collection from the library for a scholar to use remotely.

Many of you are likely wondering when these new research fellows will actually be able to visit the library (and no doubt they are wondering the same thing). The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all aspects of academic life, including every logistical step involved in conducting research, from traveling to a distant city and finding a place to stay, to checking in at the reception desk every day, to handling materials in the reading room, to discussing one’s research with colleagues. Right now there are simply too many unknowns to say when the library will be open again in such a way that will permit us to welcome research fellows, but I think I speak for all of my colleagues when I say that we are eager to learn about their work. Supporting research—whether remotely or in person—is the reason that the Clements Library exists. We will continue to develop innovative ways to support scholars from a distance, and we look forward to a time when researchers can once again engage with Clements Library collections in the reading room.

2020-21 William L. Clements Library Research Fellowship Recipients

Long-Term Postdoctoral Fellowships
Earhart Fellowship on American History

Mark Boonshoft, Assistant Professor of History at Duquesne University, “Violence, Slavery, and the Origins of Constitutional Democracy in New York”

Norton Strange Townshend Fellowship

Joshua Haynes, Assistant Professor of History, University of Southern Mississippi, “Keeping Order, Crossing Lines: Communicative Violence in the Eighteenth Century Gulf South Borderlands”

Howard H. Peckham Fellowship on Revolutionary America

Jason Sharples, Assistant Professor of History, Florida Atlantic University, “America’s Tangled Roots: Early Floridians, Revolving Empires, and the Opportunities of Changing Borders, 1750-1820


Digital Fellowship

Lauren Davis, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Rochester, “Beyond Institutions: Mental Disorders and the Family in New York, 1830-1900”


Short-Term Fellowships
Brian Leigh Dunnigan Fellowship in the History of Cartography

Michael Borsk, Ph.D. Candidate in History, Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario), “The Properties of Sovereignty: Surveyors, Mapping, and the Laws of Geographic Knowledge”

Richard & Mary Jo Marsh Fellowship

Jane Schultz, Professor of English, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, “Lead, Blood, and Ink: Medical Communication in the Civil War Era”

Donald F. Melhorn, Jr. Fellowship

William Kerrigan, Cole Distinguished Professor of American History, Muskingum University, “The Founding of the Ohio Antislavery Society”

Howard H. Peckham Fellowships on Revolutionary America

Viccy Coltman, Professor of Art History, University of Edinburgh, “Scots in the Later Eighteenth-Century Circum-Atlantic World”

Jonathan Eacott, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Riverside, “Paradoxes of Defeat: How the American Revolution Bolstered Britain’s Global Power”

Ann Little, Professor of History, Colorado State University, “Republics and Empires: Women in the Age of Revolution, 1780-1830”

Jennifer McCutchen, Assistant Professor of History, University of Southern Maine, “Gunpowder Diplomacy: Creek Indians, Commodities, and Power in the Eighteenth-Century Native South”

Jacob M. Price Visiting Research Fellowships

Colin Anderson, Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies, George Washington University, “The Racial and Spatial Politics of 19th-Century American Sheet Music, 1840-1900”

Roberto Flores de Apodaca, Ph.D. Candidate, University of South Carolina, “Praying Soldiers: How Continental Soldiers Experienced Religion during the War for Independence, 1775-1783”

Monica Anke Hahn, Assistant Professor of Art History, Community College of Philadelphia, “Harlequins of Empire: Staging Native Identity in British Imperial Art circa 1776”

James Mackay, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Edinburgh, “’What They Call Free in This Country’: Refugees from Slavery in Revolutionary America, 1775-1783”

Elizabeth Schmidt, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of California, Santa Barbara, “Food Anxieties and the Making and Unmaking of Colonial Identities in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic”

Shavagne Scott, Ph.D. Candidate in Atlantic History, New York University, “Women on the ‘Fringes’: Reimagining Marronage through the Gendered Landscape of Colonial Jamaica, Nova Scotia, and Sierra Leone”

Nora Slonimsky, Gardiner Assistant Professor of History, Iona College, “The Engine of Free Expression: Copyrighting the State in Early America”

Cassandra Jane Werking, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Kentucky, “Is My North Star Also Your North Star? How the Borderlands Between Canada and the United States Shaped the American Civil War”

Reese Fellowships in the Print Culture of the Americas

Jenny Marie Forsythe, Instructor in Modern Languages and Literatures, Western Washington University, “La Florida del Inca and the Florida of the Others: Translation and Historiography in the Early U.S. South”

Megan Walsh, Professor of English, St. Bonaventure University, “Bad Archives: Extra-Illustration and Information Management in the Nineteenth-Century United States”

Mary G. Stange Fellowship

Danny Zborover, Co-Director, Mexico-Pacific Rim Project and Field School, “A World of Strangers: A Historical Archaeology of the Mexican Pacific Coast”

Norton Strange Townshend Fellowship

Latoya Teague, Ph.D. Candidate in African and African Diaspora Studies, University of Texas at Austin, “Resistance Literacy: Enslaved Women, Imagination, and Self Identity”

Paul J. Erickson
Randolph G. Adams Director of the Clements Library