🔗NPS Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow: Black Red Coats on the Chesapeake Bay: Freedom Seeking Soldiers from Tangier to Trinidad
American Conservation Experience
NPS Chesapeake Gateways, in partnership with the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, and Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, is seeking one postdoctoral Fellow to contribute to research, interpretation, outreach, and educational and digital programming initiatives focused on the individuals, families, and descendants of soldiers who joined British forces to gain freedom from enslavement.
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: The Fellow will expand the research, understanding, and interpretation of the enslaved people who joined the Colonial Marines in the Chesapeake Bay region during the War of 1812. Areas of emphasis will include documenting the life stories of these individuals and their families, including their origins, enslavement, and life after the war. The men who were recruited into the Colonial Marines, the battles they participated in, and their general story after the war are documented in several sources. However, very little is known about the individuals’ backgrounds and that of their families and descendants. The Fellow will trace their stories through international records from the Chesapeake to Trinidad.
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 Fellow will collaborate with the support team to share the results of applied research with their hosts, cohort, Fellowship project team, the larger community of NPS staff and organizational partners, and ultimately visitors and community members. Results will also be shared with other sites telling stories of colonial-era plantations and associated places. This research will be shared on various platforms, including webinars, educational and interpretive content on NPS.gov, and in-person sessions. The work of the Fellow may also highlight lesser-known sites to the Network of Freedom Network and/or support the nomination of additional sites. The Fellow will create research files for use by park staff and other scholars. The Fellow will also serve as a liaison to other public history and humanities organizations.
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 their mentors and support team to identify feasible interpretive and educational products informed by their research. Examples of potential interpretive and educational products developed for this Fellowship opportunity could include authoring content on NPS.gov highlighting research findings as well as syntheses of applicable secondary source materials; a series of interpretive waysides or other physical interpretive product, connecting sites relevant to the Colonial Marines; and developing content for in-person programming at NPS and partner sites. Ensuring that these products are historically accurate and reach as wide an audience as possible will be a priority of the Fellowship.
Throughout the Fellowship, written interpretive products will be developed for use in both web and publication form. Additionally, in year-two, the Fellow will provide research support to a funded interpretive project such as a series of interpretive waysides or other physical interpretive product, connecting sites relevant to the Colonial Marines.
The Fellow’s work in these areas will support multiple program and park priorities. In 2021, NPS Chesapeake Gateways launched its Strategic Plan, which calls for NPS Chesapeake Gateways and our associated places and partners to “Advance a Major Inclusive Interpretive Initiative with an Equity Lens.” The Fellow’s research into the life stories of these people is intended to give identity and meaning to people and stories that are either currently unknown or under-told.
The Fellow will build on existing efforts to expand community collaboration, outreach, and interpretive products and programs. Sharing a more accurate, balanced, and equitable narrative of what makes Fort McHenry, the Star-Spangled Banner Trail, and associated Chesapeake Gateways Sites significant will enable deeper community and visitor connections. Visitors will be able to find personal relevance in the interpretation, seeing how the stories relate to challenge and struggle.
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. The Fellow will be supported by a multidisciplinary team that draws on local, regional, and agency-wide expertise. In addition to NPS staff, the Fellow will also have an external mentor whose work addresses the history of freedom-seeking.
Essential Responsibilities and Tasks:
- Conduct original research into the experiences of enslaved African Americans at relevant sites through the Chesapeake Bay region between the end of the Revolutionary War through the War of 1812; synthesize existing research (currently funded through September 2024) to share with NPS and partner sites through in-person and virtual meetings and on multiple digital platforms.
- Expand the quality and level of interpretive programming to address the congressional mandate to interpret of the four NPS parks/programs and associated Chesapeake Gateways Sites.
- Create opportunities for a more comprehensive and equitable understanding of issues and social impacts leading up to and following the War of 1812 as revealed by documenting the first-hand experiences of Colonial Marines from the Chesapeake Bay region as well as documenting these narratives as conveyed by their descendants.
- Bring to light personal identities and stories of the Colonial Marines and their families in the Chesapeake Bay region.
- Advise and collaborate with a variety of student interns, including from multiple HBCUs, on research best practices; Partner with student interns on interpretative products and program development, including content development for digital platforms.
- Support the development of programming for the 250th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War.
- Develop interpretive and educational products and programming.