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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.

Beginning in 2020, Penn State’s College of Liberal ArtsDepartment of History, and the Richards Center will host a second Center-sponsored postdoctoral fellowship (in addition to our joint RCWEC/ARC fellowship). The fellowship rewards recently graduated Ph.D.s studying aspects of the Civil War Era, particularly focusing on slavery and emancipation.

Both fellowships are one year with the possibility of renewal for a second year. While in residence, the fellows have access to the Center's professional resources, receive guidance from a mentor, and participate in a series of professional development workshops. The fellows will present their research to the graduate community and will invite senior scholars in their field to the university to review and comment on their work. 

Application and Submission Process 

1) Postdoctoral Scholar, African-American History, Job #91456

The Richards Civil War Era Center and the Africana Research Center invite applications for a Postdoctoral Scholar in African American history, beginning July 1, 2020. This is a one-year position, with possibility of renewal. All research interests spanning the origins of slavery through the Civil Rights movement will receive favorable consideration. Proposals that align 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. They 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. In addition, successful candidates must either have demonstrated a commitment to building an inclusive, equitable, and diverse campus community, or describe one or more ways they would envision doing so, given the opportunity. 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 December 10, 2019 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 richardscenter@psu.edu. Please direct questions about the process via e-mail to richardscenter@psu.edu. Applications must be submitted online at https://psu.jobs/job/91456

2) Postdoctoral Scholar, History of the Civil War Era, Job #91453

The Richards Civil War Era Center, in conjunction with the Department of History and the College of Liberal Arts, invites applications for a Postdoctoral Scholar in the history of the Civil War Era, beginning July 1, 2020. This is a one-year position, with possibility of renewal. All research interests spanning the pre-war period through Reconstruction will receive favorable consideration. Proposals that align with the Richards Center’s interests in slavery, abolition, and emancipation are especially welcome. During their residency, the Scholar will have no teaching or administrative responsibilities. They 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 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. In addition, successful candidates must either have demonstrated a commitment to building an inclusive, equitable, and diverse campus community, or describe one or more ways they would envision doing so, given the opportunity. 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 December 10 and continue until the position has been filled. Three letters of reference should be addressed to the attention of the CWE Selection Committee and submitted as email attachments to richardscenter@psu.edu. Please direct questions about the process via e-mail to richardscenter@psu.edu. Applications must be submitted online at https://psu.jobs/job/91453.


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2019-20 Postdoctoral Fellow

Leigh Soares is joining Penn State and the Richards Center as the center's 2019-2020 postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Soares received her Ph.D. in History from Northwestern University. Her research and teaching interests include African American history, the U.S. South, and 19th and 20th century U.S. history. Her dissertation, “Higher Ambitions for Freedom: The Politics of Public Black Colleges in the South, 1865-1915,” examined how black political and educational leaders mobilized throughout the region to establish and maintain state-supported black colleges. Support for the project came from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation and Northwestern University. Dr. Soares is currently developing a book manuscript that builds on her dissertation research. Prior to attending Northwestern, she received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a master’s degree from the College of William & Mary, both in History.

Postdoctoral Fellowship Funding

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