Filson Fellowships: Rob Harper and Andrew H. Stern

By John B. Westerfield II
Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator

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The Filson Historical Society recently hosted two Filson Fellows interested in using our collection in hopes
of aiding their dissertations.

Rob HarperUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison Ph.D. Candidate Rob Harper recently visited The Filson in hopes of researching our collection of the late-eighteenth century Ohio Valley documentations. Harper’s dissertation entitled “Revolution and Conquest: Politics, Violence, and Social Change in the Ohio Valley, 1774-1803” has been an attempt to gather a more sophisticated understanding of the politics of revolution and conquest in the late-eighteenth century Ohio Valley. These factors were greatly influenced by the violence and social change presented in this time period.

Harper claims that, “One of the most interesting things about this piece of political history is that it unfolds almost entirely without state institutions or state power, even by the modest standards of eighteenth-century British America. Politics and diplomacy in this region operated through an ever-shifting set of loose coalitions between various groups of Native Americans, white settlers, and the representatives of states from outside the region.”

There were many different kinds and levels of violence that occurred in various places at particular times. Harper’s findings at The Filson provide examples of violence existing in the aftermath of drinking and trade disputes. These sporadic acts are documented from the late 1760s and early 1770s in the area with the most dramatic influx of white settlers in the Monongahela Valley.

Harper states, “The Filson Historical Society’s holdings documenting the late-eighteenth century Ohio Valley were of great importance to my dissertation research, and the Filson Fellowship enabled me to take full advantage of them.” 

Emory University Ph.D. Candidate Andrew H. Stern accepted a Filson Fellowship so he could further research his dissertation, “Southern Cross, Southern Crucifix: Catholic-Protestant Relations in the Antebellum South.” His project focuses on the roles of Catholics in the antebellum Southern society and their relations with the Protestant majority in three regions of the south.

Andrew H. SternStern stated that, “Despite the physical prominence of Catholic churches, cathedrals, and other institutions throughout the antebellum south, the people they served remain all but invisible to historians. By focusing on southern Catholics, this project addresses a gap in the historiography of both the antebellum south and American Catholicism.” The goal of Stern’s project was to recover the experiences of southern Catholics, and in doing so, provide a more accurate image of Catholic-Protestant relations in antebellum America.

The Filson Historical Society’s collections offers numerous important resources for the advancement of this project. Stern was able to utilize manuscripts such as the Bethlehem Centennial Souvenir, an 1849 nativist broadside, the Young Ewing Allison papers, and the record of the Diocese of Bardstown. “These primary sources, coupled with the library’s unparalleled collection of relevant secondary literature, greatly enhanced this project’s analysis of Catholicism in Kentucky generally, and Catholic-Protestant relations specifically.”

Filson Fellowships and Internships encourage the scholarly use of our nationally significant collections by providing support for travel and lodging.  Fellowships are designed to encourage research in all aspects of the history of Kentucky and the regions of the Ohio Valley and the Upper South.  Internships provide practical experience in collections management and research for graduate students.  Application deadlines for all fellowships and internships are February 15th and October 15th each year.  Applications are reviewed twice a year.  For more information about fellowships and internships, Visit The Filson's Fellowships Website.

Volume 5, Number 4

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