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The National Park Foundation Announces New Fellows Program to Deepen Historical Knowledge of America's National Parks


WASHINGTON — American history shared and experienced in national parks will be enriched by a new program, the National Park Service Mellon Humanities Fellows, thanks to a nearly $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, which will fund three scholars to enhance storytelling of labor, civil rights and equality history. To date, this comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of America’s treasured national parks has raised $457 million in private donations from individuals, foundations and corporations.

“Strong private support is key to expanding the power of parks as living classrooms, for all ages,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “We are grateful for The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s generous grant to help advance the National Park Service’s educational mission while providing career development for emerging scholars in the public humanities.”

“We hope that by applying their university scholarship and working strategically with the national parks, postdoctoral fellows in this program will engage visitors in the challenging work of drawing personal and civic meaning from the nation’s historical landscapes and buildings,” said Mariët Westermann, executive vice president at the Mellon Foundation.

In partnership with the National Park Foundation and three academic institutions – the University of Washington, the University of Mississippi, and Morgan State University – the National Park Service will launch this postdoctoral fellowship program to support national parks with scholarship related to labor history and productivity, the legacy of the civil rights movement, and gender and sexuality equality. Each fellow will collaborate with a faculty mentor from one of the partner academic institutions who has expertise in the assigned public humanities field.

“I believe the National Park Service Mellon Humanities Fellows program has great potential to enrich scholarship in the important field of labor studies to share with the American public,” said James N. Gregory, professor in the department of history at the University of Washington. Dr. Gregory will serve as the faculty mentor for the Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Labor and Productivity.

“The Mellon Fellow will add a vital new component to the important undertaking of understanding our present, and improving our shared future, through the lens of the past,” said Jennifer A. Stollman, academic director for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi. Dr. Stollman will serve as the faculty mentor for the Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement.

“I welcome the opportunity to serve as a faculty mentor to a Postdoctoral Fellow in Gender and Sexuality Equality—a theme that will help the National Park Service tell an inclusive story about America’s diversity,” said Brett Berliner, associate professor of history at Morgan State University. Dr. Berliner will serve as the faculty mentor for the Postdoctoral Fellowship in Gender and Sexuality Equality.

The fellows, two based in Washington, DC, and one based in Philadelphia, PA, will work with National Park Service staff to create interpretive or educational resources based on their scholarly research. Examples might include lesson plans, a series of audience-centered dialogues, a publication, a social-media campaign to build a public constituency, or an innovative digital humanities project. The three fellows will also collaborate to offer quarterly online seminars to National Park Service staff nationwide.

The program begins this month with the recruitment of fellows and extends through December 31, 2021. The two-year fellowships will start in fall 2018, and the National Park Service will have the option to extend the fellowships to three years. The fellows will be selected through a national competition. Those interested in the program can learn more here.

The work of the National Park Service Mellon Humanities Fellows is expected to enhance storytelling at numerous historical and cultural parks, which represent about two-thirds of the 417 sites in the National Park System.

The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at