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Graduate Students

The Penn State Department of History and the Richards Center conduct one of the top programs in the country for training in the Civil War era, covering the broad sweep of nineteenth century U.S. history. Our students work closely with nationally recognized faculty in a wide variety of fields, such as as slavery and antislavery, African American and women’s history, popular culture and intellectual history, politics and labor, and more.

Graduate study in the American Civil War era at Penn State offers students many benefits:

  • A broad range of faculty expertise and graduate courses in the Civil War era
  • Close working relationships with Richards Center faculty affiliates
  • Workshops with visiting scholars
  • Professional development working on The Journal of the Civil War Era
  • Significant funding opportunities for research, travel, and writing

The Ann M. Richards Award

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In 2013, the Department of History created the annual Ann M. Richards Award and honorarium for the best papers produced by graduate students during the academic year. In 2002, Ann and her husband George made a transformative gift to the Civil War Era Center, providing it with the permanent means to support graduate and faculty research and public outreach programs. The Richards’ generous contribution was instrumental to the Center’s growth as a national leader in Civil War era scholarship and education. In recognition of their generosity, the University named the Center in George and Ann’s honor. Ann was a frequent participant in the Center’s annual executive tours, where she enjoyed catching up with friends and learning about the Center’s continued progress. The Ann M. Richards Award honors her memory and serves as an enduring tribute to her passion for education and scholarship.

Graduate Fellowships

Through the generous support of private donors, graduate students affiliated with the Richards Center are eligible for funding in addition to the financial support provided by the Department of History.

The following endowed fellowships assist graduate students with their research and provide them release time from teaching in order to write their dissertations.
  • Lynne G. and Laurence H. Brown Family Graduate Fund
  • Karen and Lewis H. Gold Graduate Fellowship
  • Warren W. Hassler Graduate Fellowship
  • Robert E. Hayes and Mary Brueilly Hayes Student Support Fund
  • Carl M. Isham Graduate Award
  • James Landing Graduate Fellowship
  • Charles Joseph Lindstrom Graduate Scholarship Fund
  • Larry and Gretchen McCabe Graduate Scholarship
  • Ted H. and Tracy Winfree McCourtney Family Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in American History

The Hassler and Landing fellowships support advanced graduate students who have completed their doctoral course work and passed their comprehensive examinations. The Brown, Gold, Isham, Lindstrom, and McCabe funds are open to graduate students at any phase of their careers to assist them in their research. The Hayes funds provide financial assistance to outstanding graduate and undergraduate students studying topics related to the U.S. Civil War. The McCourtney Family fellowship is awarded to outstanding graduate students studying American History.

Applications for all of these awards are reviewed each Spring by the Richards Center's director in conjunction with the Graduate Awards Committee of the Department of History. Guidelines for Richards Center awards are the same as for other departmental fellowships.

Recent Graduate - Sean Trainor (fall 2015)

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Sean Trainor received his Ph.D. in 2015 under the direction of Amy Greenberg, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Women's Studies. His dissertation investigated the cultural economy of male grooming in the nineteenth century, examining how certain grooming styles changed male consumer habits and re-shaped notions of masculinity over the course of that century. Sean currently is an instructor at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. He strives to reach both popular and scholarly audiences with his historical research. He has published his scholarship in the journal Early American Studies and has written about the historical antecedents of contemporary issues for the online publications of Time Magazine and The Atlantic Monthly, among others.