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2020 Grants Awarded

May 1, 2020
PHS Reading Room

The Presbyterian Historical Society is pleased to award four Research Fellowship grants for 2020.

Dr. Anne Blankenship of North Dakota State University, Connor S. Kenaston of the University of Virginia, Dr. Reuben Loffman of Queen Mary University of London, and Cynthia Martinez of Rice University were chosen to receive the $2,500 grants. Research Fellowships are provided to scholars, students, and independent researchers who demonstrate a compelling need to work in the Society’s collections and who live farther than 75 miles from Philadelphia. [Read about this year's fellowship projects.]

Although PHS is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Research Fellows are excited to visit the Society and gain access to the world-class collections later in the year.

Dr. Reuben Loffman’s research focuses on Presbyterian missionaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“I am enormously grateful and proud to be a Research Fellow and to have the opportunity to delve deeper into the archival holdings in Philadelphia,” Loffman explained. “The PHS archives reveal so much more about daily life in central Congo than most if not all others. Put simply, for a historian of colonial Congo, they are the historical equivalent of a gold mine!”

Like Loffman, Cynthia Martinez is using the archives to dig deeper into the history of mission work.

“I’m analyzing the work of American missionaries in the field of education, charity, healthcare, and their work to uplift the status of women in Mexican society. I believe that much of the social work carried out by American missionaries set the example and led the path toward wider social reforms during the early 20th century. The work of American missionaries including Presbyterians in the late 19th century and early 20th century was important to the formation of modern Mexican society.”

Two of this year's Research Fellows. Left: Dr. Anne Blankenship (photo courtesy of North Dakota State University). Right: Connor S. Kenaston (photo courtesy of the University of Virginia). 

The Research Fellowship program has gained popularity with scholars in recent years. Thanks to donations made through #GivingTuesday, PHS was able to support the increased interest in the program by awarding four Fellowships in 2020, one more than in 2019.

Executive Director Nancy J. Taylor is grateful for the support.

“The generosity of donors last year made these Research Fellowships possible. Now we are looking forward to the time when the Fellows can again visit PHS to use the materials in our collections that are crucial to their projects.”

For Connor Kenaston, access to the archives was only possible through the grant. “I am especially thankful for the PHS Research Fellowship and the donors who helped make the Fellowship possible. As a PhD student living on a grad stipend, I wouldn't be able to visit this essential archive without it.”

Dr. Anne Blankenship is excited to return to the archives. “Resources at PHS were crucial to my first book project, Christianity, Social Justice, and the Japanese American Incarceration during World War II, and I’m excited to dig into the archives once more.”

PHS staff members look forward to opening the doors of 425 Lombard Street again and welcoming the 2020 grant recipients, as well as other building researchers. Until then, PHS continues to work from home, sharing stories of Presbyterian history, responding to researcher questions, and improving users’ experience in Pearl Digital Collections.

Applicants for next year’s Research Fellowships will be accepted through January 31, 2021. [Hear from previous Fellows and learn about the grant application process.]

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