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We hope you enjoy our latest newsletter below.


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Best regards, 


Matt Isham 

Managing Director 

The George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center 

Penn State

March 2021 Newsletter
Happy Hour with Dr. Christina Snyder
Our next virtual Happy Hour will take place Thursday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. EDT, via Zoom. Dr. Christina Snyder, McCabe Greer Professor of the American Civil War Era, will join us to discuss a collaborative project between Penn State and Florida State University to translate and historically analyze Choctaw Nation court records from nineteenth-century Indian Territory. This project will result in a dictionary commissioned by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and a series of articles on topics including gender, culture, and the law. Register for Dr. Snyder's talk here.
Dr. Christina Snyder
Faculty News
On February 22, Richards Center director Rachel Shelden interviewed historian Robert Elder about his new biography of John C. Calhoun, Calhoun: American Heretic. Dr. Shelden conducted the interview for the United States National Archives' interview series. You can view the interview here.
Also in February, Dr. Shelden participated in The American Civil War Museum's symposium, "The Most Pivotal Decisions of the War." She discussed the various ways Washington politicians responded to the Secession Winter of 186061.
To commemorate Black History Month in February, Crystal Sanders authored an article for The Washington Post's Made by History platform. The article, "Biden has a unique opportunity to undo years of education inequality,"  discussed how the Biden administration can use federal resources to redress decades of racial inequality in higher education and dramatically expand funding for Black colleges and universities.
Dr. Sanders also authored an article for the National Head Start Association, recounting how Head Start programs have been used to fight poverty and inequality in Black communities.
Amira Rose Davis has authored a chapter in the book, 42 Today: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy. Her chapter is titled, "'The Female Jackie Robinson' and the Legacy of Support for Black Women Athletes."  42 Today will be published this month by New York University Press.
In February, Dr. Davis delivered the Macintosh Annual Lecture at Queen's University in Canada. Her talk, "Not Just Here to Entertain: The Past, Present, and Future of Athletic Activism," drew upon her research into the history of athletes' social and political activism and its influence on contemporary activism.
News from Sister Centers
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $3.1 million grant to Penn State to support “Just Transformations: A College of the Liberal Arts Initiative Toward Building and Sustaining Diverse Communities in Higher Education.” This is the largest grant Penn State has received from the Mellon Foundation.The principal investigators overseeing the Mellon Grant are Cynthia Young, associate professor of African American studies, English, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies as well as head of the Department of African American Studies; P. Gabrielle Foreman, Paterno Family Professor of American Literature and professor of African American studies and history; Amy Allen, liberal arts research professor of philosophy and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and head of the Department of Philosophy; and Shirley Moody-Turner, associate professor of English and African American studies and co-director, with Dr. Foreman, of the Center for Black Digital Research.
The Mellon award will be used to expand the community of visiting and resident graduate students, postdoctoral Fellows, and faculty of color and support scholars whose work and service promotes diversity in the academy. It also will create opportunities for collaboration between and among College of the Liberal Arts research centers, including the Richards Center. Read more about the Mellon Grant and the "Just Transformations" project here.
Penn State's Center for Black Digital Research (CBDR) is celebrating the publication this month of The Colored Conventions Movement: Black Organizing in the Nineteenth Century, edited by Penn State's P. Gabrielle Foreman and Jim Casey and Sarah Lynn Patterson of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Ms. magazine included The Colored Conventions Movement in its list of most anticipated books of 2021. Dr. Foreman and Dr. Casey are co-directors of the Colored Conventions Project, a key initiative of the CBDR. The project documents the antebellum colored conventions movement and expands our understanding of Black organizing in the nineteenth century.
Postdoctoral Fellows
Maryam Aziz, Richards Center and Africana Research Center postdoctoral Fellow in African American history, appeared on the feminist sports podcast Burn It All Down in February. In the interview, Dr. Aziz discussed her eighteen years of martial arts experience, the importance of inclusivity in the martial arts, and the role of the United States military in exposing Americans to East Asian martial arts. Burn It All Down is hosted by Dr. Amira Rose Davis, Dr. Brenda Elsey of Hofstra University, and journalists Shireen Ahmed, Lindsay Gibbs, and Jessica Luther.
Jonathan Jones, the Richards Center postdoctoral Fellow in Civil War history, will publish an article in the July issue of  North Carolina Historical Review. Dr. Jones's article, "The Life and Death of Frank Clewell, Confederate Veteran: Microhistory and the Civil War Era-South," examines Clewell's life to illustrate the long-term impact of morphine addiction on Civil War veterans.
News From Postdoctoral Fellows and Graduate Alumni
Jessica Johnson and Sasha Turner participated in a February 17 roundtable talk sponsored by The Library Company of Philadelphia. The talk was titled, "Body and Soul: A Conversation with Jessica Johnson About Slavery, Gender, and the Atlantic World." Dr. Johnson was the inaugural Richards Center and Africana Research Center postdoctoral Fellow in African American history for the 2012–13 academic year. Dr. Turner succeeded her as the Richards Center and Africana Research Center Fellow for 2013–14.
Dr. Jessica Johnson (L) and Dr. Sasha Turner (R)
Cynthia Greenlee, the 2014–15 Richards Center and Africana Research Center postdoctoral Fellow in African American history, is one of the editors of the new book, The Echoing Ida CollectionThe book consists of essays by a collective of Black women and nonbinary writers about a variety of contemporary social and political topics. In February, Dr. Greenlee also published an article in The Atlantic, "A Priceless Archive of Ordinary Life," about the difficulties of preserving Black history archives. The article focuses on the William Dorsey Scrapbook Collection, held by Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. The Richards Center and the Penn State University Libraries partnered with Cheyney to assess and preserve the scrapbooks, but keeping the fragile collection accessible to scholars remains difficult.
Will D. Bryan '13 Ph.D. is an environmental historian in Atlanta, Georgia. As a doctoral candidate at Penn State, he completed a dissertation on the origins of environmentalism in the nineteenth-century U.S. South. Today, he uses his historical expertise to advocate for public policies that will redress the contemporary effects of historical, systemic racism. He recently co-authored a report on energy insecurity in the U.S. South, analyzing why many communities and people in the region lack access to affordable electricity. Additionally, Bryan recently discussed the history of campaigns for environmental justice by communities of color in the South for the 2021 Atlanta Music Festival. The festival will take place in September. You can view Will's presentation in the video below.
Polin Cohanne (19502020)
In December, we shared the sad news of the passing of longtime Richards Center supporter, Polin Cohanne '72. Polin was an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles, California, for many years before assuming a position in the Department of Homeland Security. Her obituary appeared in February in The Hollywood Reporter.
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. 21-470

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