Greetings from the Richards Center! 


We are excited to share news from our affiliated faculty and graduate students in our November newsletter. 


Happy Thanksgiving!


Matt Isham 

Managing Director 

The George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center 

Penn State

November 2020 Newsletter
Turner to Deliver Next Lunchtime Talk
Dr. Nicole Myers Turner, assistant professor of religious studies at Yale University, will give the next Richards Center lunchtime talk for Richards Center affiliated faculty and graduate students on December 3. Turner will talk about her first book, Soul Liberty: The Evolution of Black Religious Politics in Postemancipation Virginia, which was published by the University of North Carolina Press in September. She also will discuss her complementary digital history project, Mapping Black Religion, which explores Black religious life and political developments in nineteenth-century Virginia. Turner was the Richards Center and Africana Research Center (ARC) postdoctoral fellow in African American history in 20152016.
Shelden Appears on McCourtney Institute's Democracy Works Podcast
Richards Center director Dr. Rachel Shelden has participated in multiple interviews and presented numerous talks this fall about the history of the federal courts and elections. She appeared on the McCourtney Institute's October 19 episode of the Democracy Works podcast to discuss the history of the Supreme Court's politics and power. She also appeared on the Apple podcast,  The Trial Brief, where she discussed her recent article in The Washington Post (co-authored with Dr. Erik B. Alexander), "Americans worry about 2020 being another 2000, but the real worry is another 1876." The article pointed to the contested election of 1876 to show the potential dangers of an unclear election outcome in deeply polarized times.

In addition to these interviews, Shelden also gave a talk about the history of the Supreme Court at the Harrisburg Civil War roundtable in October and a public talk at Framingham State University earlier this month on "Presidential Elections in Historical Perspective."
Sanders Writes about Senator Kamala Harris's Election as Vice President
In an article for The Washington Post's Made by History platform, associate professor of history and African American studies Dr. Crystal Sanders wrote about the prominent role  historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) played in the recent election. Senator Kamala Harris is the first graduate of an HBCU to be elected vice president of the United States. Sanders's article, "Historically Black colleges and universities are remaking American politics," noted that HBCUs always have affirmed the humanity of their students and educated them to be politically engaged. HBCU students have led the fight for civil rights and equality from the nineteenth century to the present. Harris's election to the vice presidency is the latest testament to the success of HBCUs in educating students for a lifetime of political and social engagement.
Walser Writes for The Washington Post's Made by History
Doctoral candidate Heather Walser authored an essay for The Washington Post's Made by History platform. The article, "Congress should resist the urge to implement the 25th Amendment for partisan gain," responded to the announcement of proposed legislation by House Democrats to establish a “Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of the Office.” The announcement invoked the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, which specifies the procedures for filling vacancies in the vice presidency and presidency due to removal, resignation, or incapacity. Walser's article recounted the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew and President Richard Nixon's subsequent impeachment crisis in the 1970s. She argued that during that crisis congressional leaders wisely implemented the amendment to ensure continuity of government, rather than wield it as a partisan weapon.
Reed Appears on Ben Franklin's World Podcast
Dr. Julie Reed, associate professor of history, recently appeared on the history podcast, Ben Franklin's World. The podcast explores topics in early American history. During her appearance, Reed joined other scholars to discuss Native American ideas about self-government prior to, during, and after the American Revolution; how the Cherokee people viewed American democracy; and the creation of the Cherokee Constitution of 1827 and Cherokee Nation election of 1828. This month she also conducted a virtual talk, "2020 in Indian Country," which explored how the events of 2020 have affected Native American communities.
In Print
Associate professor of history Dr. Cathleen Cahill and former Richards Center and Africana Research Center postdoctoral fellow Dr. Sasha Turner (201314) both authored essays in the new book, As If She Were Free: A Collective Biography of Women and Emancipation in the Americas. Published in September by Cambridge University Press,  As If She Were Free contains twenty-four biographies of women of African descent, detailing how they defined, worked toward, and achieved freedom from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.
Dr. Cahill also helped to organize the Western Historical Association's annual conference this past October. In addition, she served on the roundtable, "Western Women's Political Activism, Past and Present: A Conversation on the 100th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage." Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was held entirely online.
Graduate Student News
Dr. Tyler Sperrazza graduated with his doctorate in History and African American and Diaspora Studies in August 2020. He completed his dissertation, "Defiant: African American Legal and Cultural Responses to Northern White Supremacy, 18651915," under the guidance of former Richards Center director Dr. William Blair. Sperrazza is the assistant production manager for Penn State’s student union, the HUB-Robeson Center, overseeing live event productions. He also is an adjunct faculty member for the Department of History, Department of African American Studies, and the School of Theatre, teaching courses in African American theatre, American theatre history, and nineteenth-century United States and African American history.

Doctoral candidate Cecily Zander organized a panel and presented a paper at the Western History Association's annual conference in October. The panel was titled "The Quest for the West: Gender, Race, and Military Service in American Civil War Remembrances." Zander's paper, "Never Invited to Join in the Parade: Indian Wars, Veterans, and Civil War Veterans" was derived from her disseration research. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was held entirely online.
This publication is available in alternative media upon 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 21-264

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

View this email in your browser
You are receiving this email because of your relationship with the Richards Civil War Era Center. Please reconfirm your interest in receiving emails from us. If you do not wish to receive any more emails, you can unsubscribe here.
This message was sent from to
108 Weaver Building, University Park, PA, 16802

Update Profile/Email Address | Forward Email | Report Abuse