Greetings from the Richards Center,


It is my pleasure to share this newsletter with you as the new associate director of the Richards Center. As mentioned in the last newsletter, I am passionate about African-American history, pedagogy, and public outreach, and look forward to growing in all of these areas here at the Richards Center. I am also looking forward to contributing to and learning from the Center's rich intellectual community, and am excited to share our many achievements with you each month.


Take a look at the recent accomplishments of our vibrant community.


With warmest regards, 


Abena Boakyewa-Ansah 


October 2023 Newsletter


Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Steven and Janice Brose Distinguished Lectures with Thavolia Glymph were canceled. We hope to reschedule them to the spring and will notify you when dates have been finalized.

Recent Publications and Awards

Christopher Heaney, assistant professor of history, published an opinion piece in The Washington Post, entitled: “Why we need to address the Peruvian skeletons in the Smithsonian’s closet.” In it, Heaney confronts the complex history of bodily remains held by many American museums, and considers a more diverse future in the history of anthropology.  

Graduate Student News




Rick Daily successfully defended his dissertation  in September.




Morgan Robinson was featured in a Choice Review American Library Association roundtable as part of the team collaborating on the Colored Conventions. Choice Review is a publishing unit of the Association of College & Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association. You can read the discussion here.

Alumni News



Jonathan Jones, former Richards Center postdoctoral Fellow, published a piece in the AHA Perspectives on History newsletter, entitled: “Students Critique a ChatGPT Essay: A Classroom Experiment,” The article explores ways in which ChatGPT can be used in the classroom. Read the article here. 



Evan Rothera, History department alumnus, won the Phi Beta Alpha Theta’s Best First Book Awards for his book  Civil Wars and Reconstructions in the Americas: The United States, Mexico, and Argentina, 1860–1880 (LSU Press 2022). This project began as a 2017 dissertation under the direction of Amy Greenberg and offers a comparative history of war and reconstruction in the nineteenth-century Americas, grounded in extensive archival research in three countries.


Recent Presentations and Interviews


Amy Greenberg, head of the Department of History, and George Winfree Professor of American History, delivered a talk entitled, “James Buchanan at Bedford Springs,” at the History Museum in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The talk explored time Buchanan spent at Bedford Springs Resort and its contribution to his success as a politician.




Former director of the Africana Research Center and associate professor of history, Crystal Sanders’, forthcoming book about African Americans who traveled from the South to Northern states in pursuit of advance academic degrees in an era where graduate schools in the South were white-only, is being developed into a five-part digital series by New York’s PBS. A link to the first eight-minute episode can be found here. Additional episodes will appear in October.





Bill Blair, director emeritus of the Richards Civil War Era Center, delivered a keynote address on October 13 at The Center for Civil War Research, University of Mississippi. The keynote address was entitled: “The Union Army and the Limits of Presidential Power in the Civil War.” Find more information here

 Cathleen Cahill, professor of History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Walter L. Ferree and Helen P. Ferree Professor in Middle-American History, recently gave two Zoom talks for Women’s Equity Day. The first was hosted by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and drew from her book, Recasting the Vote: How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement. Her second talk was for the U.S. Forest Service and focused on the political activism of federal employees, especially Native women’s suffrage activism. During this talk she also highlighted her new project focusing on Native women’s botanical knowledge.

This publication is available in alternative media on request. Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. U.Ed. LBS 24-241

Richards Civil War Era Center | 108 Weaver Building | University Park, PA 16802

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