Chico State professor awarded prestigious humanities grant

Mar 31, 2016 6:51 PM by David McVicker

Allison Madar, a student of history, hopes to unveil a mystery and with the help of a present in the form of a national grant, she may get her chance.

Madar, a colonial and revolutionary American history professor at Chico State, will be granted access to archives in Virginia and London, thanks in part to the Summer Stipends grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States.

Madar said she wants to use the $6,000 award to continue research on the history of and transition from indentured servitude to slavery. She said she plans to publish her findings in a manuscript, “A People Between: Servitude and the Law in Eighteenth-Century Virginia.”

“In some ways my work is offering new answers to questions that have been around in American history for a long time,” Madar said. “Mostly, what’s the nature of the transition from indentured servitude to slavery? That's a question that people have tried to find answers to and I'm offering a new way to look at that. Instead of seeing slavery and servitude as opposing forces, I'm putting them into conversation with one another.”

The NEH grant will allow Madar to spend two months traveling between the Library of Virginia, the London Metropolitan Archives and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

She will be granted access to archives containing court records and transcripts, contracts and governors' papers.

Access to these archives are only allowed to a select few and Madar said she plans on taking full advantage of the opportunity.

Madar was one of 248 individuals and organizations selected to receive a portion of the $21.1 million allotted for humanities projects in 2016. Officials from the NEH said history enthusiasts will be able to enjoy the work borne of these grants for many years to come.

“NEH grants bring the humanities to life for Americans by helping preserve valuable cultural resources, advancing research, and supporting films and exhibitions that communicate the lessons of history and culture to new audiences,” said NEH Chairman William D. Adams.

Nonetheless, competition was vicious for the grant funding. Madar had to go up against some of the biggest names in academic research. She said the ferocity of the competition gave her the motivation needed to help transform her study into her first book.

"It's a really competitive award from a nationally recognized institution,” she said. “For them to be willing to throw money and support behind my project means that they believe in it and that it makes an important contribution."


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