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Jon White

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Jon White

I can say without any hesitation that I would not be where I am today without the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center.  The Center’s faculty—especially Bill Blair and Mark Neely—were mentors to me throughout my undergraduate career, and they have continued to be wonderful friends since.  In fact, I began my book Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln as an independent study with Mark when I was a senior at Penn State.  I didn’t know at the time that he had been planning to write something about the soldier vote of 1864, but instead he graciously gave the topic to me.  When my book came out last year I was thrilled to be able to dedicate it to him.

The Richards Center helped me develop professionally in other ways as well.  For example, after my sophomore year, the Center funded a summer research fellowship that enabled me to work at two Civil War-related historic sites in the Philadelphia area—the Camp William Penn Museum and Pennypacker Mills.  Having these experiences helped me prepare me for the public history world in the future.  When I was in graduate school I worked as an intern in the Federal Judicial History Office at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C., and my first job out of graduate school was working as an assistant historian in that office.

Now I am a tenured professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University, in Newport News, Virginia.  I have written or edited 6 books and about 70 articles, essays and reviews.  I am currently finishing up three book projects:  a history of sleep and dreams during the Civil War (forthcoming with UNC Press), a collection of African American correspondence with Abraham Lincoln (to be submitted to Southern Illinois University Press later this month), and a co-authored history of the USS Monitor (under review with Kent State University Press).  After I finish these three books I will turn my attention to a history of the slave trade during the Civil War.

Bill Blair has done such a wonderful job in building the Richards Center into one of the premier academic centers in the country.  This year one of my top students is applying to Penn State for graduate school in Civil War history.  I know that if she attends Penn State she will receive a rigorous education and a thorough grounding in the Civil War era.  The professors in the Richards Center are what really make the place—I would not have had the success I’ve had in my career without the selfless investments they made in me when I was a student.

A few other highlights from my career:  In October I was elected vice president of the Board of Directors of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, I was invited to serve on the Board of Directors of the Abraham Lincoln Association, and I was invited to join the Advisory Council at Ford’s Theatre.