🔗NPS Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow: Black Land Use and Migration in the Lowcountry, 1865-1965
American Conservation Experience
Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park (FOSU) and Charles Pinckney National Historic Site (CHPI), located in the Charleston, South Carolina area, preserve some of the United States’ most well-known military and political histories.
The project focuses on the period from Reconstruction through the Civil Rights Era. Through archival research and oral histories, the Fellow will explore the meanings, contexts, and legacies of land use and migration in the Lowcountry, beginning with research into various methods and distribution of Black land acquisition and ownership (i.e. collective fund raising to purchase on behalf of one individual), the usage of the properties both rural and urban, and the circumstances of the persistence (or not) of Black land ownership, be it through inheritance, seizure, or subsequent sales. Research questions may include: the impacts of developing and changing local, national, and international transportation and economic infrastructure, especially across racial, geographic, and economic lines; factors leading to changing policies affecting property ownership in the Lowcountry and their immediate and legacy impacts; circumstances shaping migration patterns in the region, including in-migration, out-migration, and effects on families, communities, and land. As part of their research, the Fellow will also identify and explore historic threats to Black land ownership.
The Fellow’s work will support the Parks’ ongoing efforts to expand and strengthen their interpretive products and develop their interpretive staff to facilitate meaningful connection with visitors, both in-person and virtually. The Fellow will work with park staff to develop interpretive products and programming and provide an archive of research and analysis that will inform future endeavors including exhibits and foundational documents.
Each NPS Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow will complete work in four areas. Fellows will (1) perform project-based research; (2) share research results; (3) produce and substantially contribute to interpretive and educational products; and (4) pursue career-focused work.
1) Project-Based Research: In the first year, the Fellow will conduct research into Black land ownership. This will include archival and documentary research, as well as gathering oral histories. The mentorship team will support the Fellow in developing and conducting oral histories, including making introductions as appropriate. These oral histories with people from Black descendant communities local to the South Carolina Lowcountry, will focus on family land use, migration patterns, cultural ties to the land, and threats to land ownership and use. The interests of the Fellow may also shape the direction of research. In year two, the Fellow will consult with their mentorship team, as well as other subject matter experts as needed, to propose a project for their second year.
2) Sharing Research Results: The parks are flexible with how research results will be shared, and specifics will be determined in conjunction with the Fellow. These may include an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources; a report on findings based on oral history interviews and research; an ArcGIS StoryMap documenting sites of interest to the project; and a report outlining potential viable avenues for future research. In-person and/or virtual presentations to Park staff, the broader NPS, community partners, and others sharing the research process and findings may also be included. The Fellow is also encouraged to present their findings at relevant regional and national conferences.
The Fellow will be expected to develop and sustain connections with program-provided mentors and host staff, associated NPS staff, members of their Fellowship cohort, and other Fellows across the tenure of the program. In addition to being provided mentorship and support themselves, the Fellow will have the opportunity to mentor others and to enrich staff knowledge by organizing events such as virtual speaker series and presentations. Twice a year, the Fellow will participate with their cohort and other Fellows in a virtual conference for NPS staff and partners to provide updates about their research. The Fellow will be responsible for tracking and reporting accomplishments and for supplying copies of interpretive, educational, and research products to their host and to the National Coordinator.
3) Interpretive and Educational Products: The Fellow will work with the host sites to apply their research findings to creating Interpretive and educational products. These include articles and other digital media for NPS.gov; park- and program-specific presentations on incorporating research findings into current, public interpretive programming; creating social media posts; providing input on upcoming long-range interpretive projects; and aiding in building local, regional, and national connections with researchers for a speaker series. The parks are also open to other interpretive and educational products developed in conjunction with the Fellow.
4) Career-focused Research and Products: In consultation with their mentors, the Fellow will carry out a career-centered project. About 20 percent of the Fellowship will be dedicated to this scholarly work that advances the Fellow’s career path.
Essential Responsibilities and Tasks:
- Conduct original research into the contexts, histories, and legacies of Black land ownership in the Lowcountry between 1865 and 1965. This includes archival research and conducting oral histories with descendant communities. Create a research archive, including an annotated bibliography, to make this research available to future park staff and researchers.
- Prepare and present research process and results to the host sites, broader NPS, partners, descendant communities, and the general public. Methods can include conference presentations; written reports; digital materials including content on NPS.gov, StoryMaps, podcasts, video; and in-person and/or virtual presentations.
- In conjunction with the host sites and mentors, apply research findings to creating interpretive and educational products. These may include articles and other digital media for NPS.gov; park- and program-specific presentations on incorporating research into public interpretive programming; social media; and organizing a relevant speaker series.
- Foster ongoing community and descendant relationships.