2018 Mellon Scholars Recap

I am Dr. Michael Dickinson, and I am an assistant professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University along with the director of the Mellon Scholars Program at the Library Company of Philadelphia. The Mellon Scholars Program is a research and professional development initiative dedicated to mentoring students with career aspirations in African American history. A fundamental part of the program is a week-long workshop where students from various institutions and academic backgrounds participate in a series of professional development activities and conducti individual research projects supported by the LCP collections.

This year the workshop took place throughout the week of June 18th with a talented group of ten students. We were very fortunate to have a splendid group of speakers: Dr. Dexter Gabriel from the University of Connecticut, Dr. Nicole Myers Turner from Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Kimberly Saunders from the University of Maryland, and James Green from the Library Company. While Dr. Turner and Dr. Gabriel provided insight into their career paths and research projects, Dr. Saunders and Mr. Greene gave expert advice about applying to graduate programs and fellowships. I also led sessions on navigating graduate school and polishing personal statements for applications.

In addition, workshop participants explored the archives to discover, dissect, and contextualize primary sources related to topics and figures noteworthy in early African American history. For example, Maryama Dahir, who recently graduated from the University of Minnesota, investigated black activist Martin Delany and ideas of black nationalism. The students presented their research findings in a collective conference held on the final day of the program. Their presentations certainly served as a rewarding culmination to a productive and academically intensive week. As in previous years, it was a genuine pleasure to work with such enthusiastic young scholars with immense promise.

Michael Dickinson