George Washington’s Library Selects New Class of Fellows

George Washington’s Library Selects New Class of Fellows

The new Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon has selected 18 established and emerging scholars to serve as its newest class of fellows. The fellowship recipients will utilize the resources available at Mount Vernon and its new Library to conduct research in residence between September 2014 and August 2015 in six-month, three-month, and one-month terms.

During the course of their studies, these scholars will uncover new insights on the life, leadership, and legacy of Washington and the era in which he lived. Their proposed research topics range from the slave trade, to Washington’s role in early-American agriculture, to the process of defining executive powers.

The fellowship program is an educational initiative of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which opened the new 45,000-square-foot Library in September 2013. The Library safeguards original books and manuscripts and serves as a center for scholarly research, leadership training, and educational outreach.

The following scholars have been named as part of the Library’s 2014-2015 class and are listed with their proposed topic of study:

Recipients of six-month fellowships:

  • Kate Elizabeth Brown, Ph. D. candidate in American history, University of Virginia, James C. Rees Fellowship on the Leadership of George Washington, “Defining the Contours of Executive Authority: Washington, Hamilton, and Development of the Prerogative Power in Early Republican Law.”

  • Dr. Bruce A. Ragsdale, director of the Federal Judicial History Office, James C. Rees Entrepreneurship Fellowship funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, “George Washington at the Plow: Agriculture and Leadership in the Age of Revolution.”

  • Dr. Dana John Stefanelli, Ph. D. in history, “Building America’s Capital: George Washington’s City and the Economic Development of the United States.”

Recipients of three-month fellowships:

  • Michael A. Blaakman, Ph. D. candidate in Early American history, Yale University, “Speculation Nation: George Washington and His Fellow Land Speculators in the Age of the American Revolution.”

  • Kristen D. Burton, Ph. D. candidate in history, University of Texas, Arlington, “John Barleycorn vs. Sir Richard Rum; Alcohol, the Atlantic, and the Distilling of Colonial Identity, 1650-1800.”

  • Erin E. Eisenbarth, Ph.D. candidate in decorative arts, design and material culture, Bard Graduate Center in New York, “Imagining the Founding Fathers: The Kountze Collection of George Washington Memorabilia and the Formation of American Identity.”

  • Brendan J. Gillis, Ph. D. candidate in history, Indiana University, “George Washington as Imperial Magistrate: Justice of the Peace, Local Authority, and Revolution in Virginia.”

  • Dr. Nicholas P. Wood, adjunct professor, University of Virginia, “Considerations of Humanity and Expediency: The Slave Trades and African Colonization in EAR Antislavery.”

The recipients of one-month fellowships:

  • Dr. Denver Brunsman, assistant professor of history, The George Washington University, “Citizens and Subjects: British Naval Impressment in the Revolutionary Atlantic.”

  • Dr. Cassandra Good, assistant editor of the Papers of James Monroe, University of Mary Washington, “George Washington’s Descendants and the Politics of Family in Early America.”

  • Michael Hattem, Ph. D. candidate in history, Yale University

“‘Their history as part of ours’; History Culture and Historical Memory in British America, 1720-1776.”

  • Benjamin C. Lyons, Ph. D. candidate in U.S. history, Columbia University, “John Jay and the Law of Nations in the Diplomacy of the American Revolution.”

  • Dr. Holly A. Mayer, History Department chair, Duquesne University, “Congress’ Own: The 2nd Canadian Regiment’s War for Independence.”

  • Mary Richie McGuire, Ph. D. candidate in science and technology studies, Virginia Tech, “Translating Natural Knowledge in an Age of Revolution: Tobacco, People, and Science in Benjamin Henry LaTrobe’s Virginia Journals 1795-1798.”

  • Brett Palfreyman, Ph. D. candidate in Early American history, Binghamton University, “Peace Process: The Reintegration of the Loyalists in Post-Revolutionary America.”

  • Craig Bruce Smith, Ph. D. candidate in U.S. history, Brandeis University, “Rightly to be Great: Ideas of Honor, Virtue and Ethics among the American Founders.”

  • Dr. John H. Sprinkle, Jr., research faculty member, University of Maryland, Architecture Planning & Preservation,

“Frances Payne Bolton and the Preservation of George Washington’s ‘Overview.’”

  • Dr. Timothy D. Walker, associate professor of history, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, “Commercial Relations between Mount Vernon Estate and Portugal: Commodities, Ports & Merchants.”

To learn more about the Library fellows, visit