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Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

In partnership with Penn State’s Africana Research Center, the Richards Center established a competitive, one-year postdoctoral fellowship in 2012. The fellowship rewards recently graduated Ph.D.s studying aspects of the African American experience from slavery to Civil Rights. While in residence, the fellow has access to the Center and the ARC’s professional resources, receives guidance from a mentor, and participates in a series of professional development workshops. The fellow will present his or her research to the graduate community and will invite senior scholars in their field to the university to review and comment on his or her work. 

Application and Submission Process

PSU# 73737: Postdoctoral Scholar, History

Richards Civil War Era Center/Africana Research Center, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

The Richards Civil War Era Center and the Africana Research Center invite applications for a one-year postdoctoral scholar in African-American history, beginning July 1, 2018. All research interests spanning the origins of slavery through the Civil Rights movement will receive favorable consideration. Proposals that mesh with the Richards Center’s interests in slavery, abolition, and emancipation, as well as comparative or Atlantic history, are especially welcome. During their residency, the scholar will have no teaching or administrative responsibilities. He or she will be matched with a mentor, attend professional development sessions and other relevant events, and will be expected to take an active part in Penn State’s community of Africana researchers. The scholar also will invite two senior scholars to campus to read and comment on the scholar’s project.  Successful applicants must have completed all requirements for the Ph.D. within the previous four academic years. Salary/benefit package is competitive. To be considered for this position, submit complete application packets including a cover letter describing your research and goals for the scholarship year, a curriculum vita (6 page maximum), and a writing sample of no more than 30 double-spaced pages. Review of materials will begin November 15, 2017 and continue until the position has been filled. Three letters of reference should be addressed to the attention of the ESSS Selection Committee and submitted as email attachments to  Please direct questions about the process via e-mail to  Apply online at

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2017-18 Postdoctoral Fellow

Alaina E. Roberts, 2017-18 Postdoctoral Fellow

Alaina E. Roberts is currently the postdoctoral fellow at Pennsylvania State University’s George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2011 and her PhD in History from Indiana University in 2017. Her research interests include indigenous nationalism, African Diasporic identity, and Reconstruction-era politics. Alaina’s dissertation, “Chickasaw Freedpeople at the Crossroads of Reconstruction,” argues that the American Civil War and Reconstruction were transnational junctures, wherein indigenous nations and African Americans owned by Native Americans created and co-opted conversations regarding the maintenance of slavery and the nature of citizenship. Alaina has received research grants from the American Philosophical Society, the Western Historical Association, the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society, and the Indiana University History Department.

Postdoctoral Fellowship Funding

The postdoctoral fellowship was made possible by the generous support of Steven and Janice Brose, Robert and Bonnie Hammel, Lewis and Karen Gold, Ted and Tracy Winfree McCourtney, Howell and Sandy Rosenberg, and Alice Schmidt. The fellowship significantly enhances the Center’s position as a national leader in advancing innovative scholarship in the Civil War era. Focused on African American history, the fellowship promotes research in a traditionally under-studied aspect of the history of this period.