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Communication professor wins fellowship to support research for two books

July 16, 2012 | By Nick Alexopulos

Kaye Wise WhiteheadKaye Whitehead, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication at Loyola University Maryland, has been awarded a fellowship by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to conduct research for two ongoing book projects that explore the lives of African Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries from new perspectives.

Each year, Gilder awards 10 short-term, $3,000 research fellowships to scholars working in American history at every level from doctoral candidates to senior faculty, including independent scholars. The institute has funded more than 590 fellowships since 1994. With the fellowship, Whitehead will be able to examine an extensive list of sources in the New York Historical Society Library, Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture-NYPL.

“I am beyond thrilled to have received such a prestigious honor,” said Whitehead. “This new support gives me the opportunity to add valuable, complete information about specific experiences of African Americans to a centuries-old chapter of American history.”

Whitehead, who has just finished her first book, Notes from a Colored Girl: The 1863-1865 Pocket Diaries of Emilie Davis, is currently completing research for her second book, The Emancipation Proclamation: Race Relations on the Eve of Reconstruction. This book explores the release of the Emancipation Proclamation as a critical moment in shaping American and African American history and will include information and materials found in the comprehensive collection at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Research for her third book, Dear Reader, Whoever Thou Art: Interpreting the 1749-1751 Diary of William Chancellor, will be the crux of Whitehead’s work as a Gilder fellow. The book is a transcription and interpretation of the diary of a slave ship doctor who chronicled his experiences in the Middle Passage. Because the diary has never been transcribed or published, the book will be the first study that unlocks his diary as a way to deconstruct this critical period in American history. At the New York Historical Society, she’ll access newspapers from 1740-55 to analyze the ways in which enslavement was discussed, promoted, and debated. At the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, she plans to access the slavery and anti-slavery database to examine the early history of the transnational slave system. Finally, she plans to review the “Eighteenth Century Journals: a portal to newspapers and periodicals, c1685-1815” collection at the Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library to garner additional information on 18th century social, political, and literary life.

In June 2011, Whitehead won a fellowship from the Maryland Historical Society that gave her unprecedented access to the society’s library and museum, where Chancellor’s diary is housed on microfiche.

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute:
Founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education. The Institute has developed an array of programs for schools, teachers, and students that now operate in all 50 states, including a website that features the more than 60,000 unique historical documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection. Each year the Institute offers support and resources to tens of thousands of teachers, and through them enhances the education of more than a million students. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.

More information about Kaye Whitehead can be found on her website, kayewisewhitehead.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @KayeWhitehead.

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