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Gest Fellows for 2012-2013 announced at Haverford College

HAVERFORD, Pa.—Haverford College Special Collections announces four* research fellowship recipients for the 2012-2013 academic year. The Gest Fellowship Program, now in its 21st year, allows recipients to spend one month in residence working with the unique resources of the College’s Quaker Collection. These scholars develop and enrich their work while providing the staff with an important insight into new and creative ways that the collections may be used. The Quaker Collection spans the history of the Society of Friends from 17th-century Britain to the present day in many parts of the world, with emphasis on Quakerism as lived and practiced in the eastern United States and antecedent American colonies.

Michael Cohen is assistant professor of English at UCLA, where he specializes in nineteenth-century poetry and literature of the Atlantic world. He holds a Ph.D. in English from New York University and is co-editor of the forthcoming Poetry of Charles Brockton Brown, volume 7 of The Complete Works of Charles Brockton Brown. Michael has conducted research at Harvard’s Houghton Library, the Maine Historical Society, the American Antiquarian Society, and the New York Historical Society. At Haverford he will explore a network of abolitionist poets located in and around Philadelphia in the 1830s and 1840s, centering around John Greenleaf Whittier. This study will form a chapter in his forthcoming book on The Social Lives of Poetry in Nineteenth-Century America.

Alec Dun is assistant professor of history at Princeton University where he also earned his Ph.D. in 2004. He has held fellowships at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Alec’s first book, Dangerous Intelligence: Slavery, Saint Domingue, and the Haitian Revolution in the Early American Republic, is under review for publication. His second book project, which he will be researching at Haverford, is an exploration of the “Age of Revolution” from the viewpoint of Quakers Henry and Elizabeth Drinker. Besides the Elizabeth and Henry Drinker letters of 1777-1778, which chronicle Henry’s forced exile during the Revolutionary War, Alec will be making use of a broad range of materials that document Quaker experience during the war years.

Jonathan Sassi comes from the College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center, CUNY, where he is associate professor of history. He holds a Ph.D in history from UCLA and is the author of the book A Republic of Righteousness: The Public Christianity of the Post-Revolutionary New England Clergy (2001) as well as articles on Quaker abolitionist Anthony Benezet. Jonathan has held fellowships at the David Library of the American Revolution, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the American Antiquarian Society. His work at Haverford will center on the history of the abolition movement in New Jersey prior to 1804, when the state’s gradual abolition act was passed. Letters, diaries, and other personal papers as well as organizational records of abolition societies and Quaker meetings from New Jersey will be among the material Jonathan draws on to write this history.

Ph.D. candidate in history Ben Wright from Rice University is writing a dissertation on “American Clergy and the Problem of Slavery, 1750-1830: Form the Politics of Conversion to the Conversion to Politics.” As Ben mentioned in his application “By tracking changes in ideologies of conversion as revealed in sermons, diaries, pamphlets and other material, much of which is available exclusively in the Quaker Collection, I expect my project to change the way historians view early antislavery and reshape our understanding of theological change in the early republic.” Ben has held fellowships at the Virginia Historical Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Gest Fellowships are made possible by the generous support of the Gest Fund at Haverford College. The Gest Fellowship Program has given approximately 69 awards since its inception in 1992. Most of these awards have led to publication. For more information on the program and a list of past fellows and their topics, please see:

*Edited to add fourth fellow (August 27, 2012).

Founders Green on a warm spring day.

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