Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Lycoming faculty member earns second research fellowship for upcoming book

Christopher Pearl, Ph.D., associate professor of history and co-coordinator of American studies at Lycoming College, has earned a fellowship from the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, enabling him to conduct research for his upcoming book about the creation of executive power during the American Revolutionary War.

The fellowship is the second that Pearl has earned for research for his book, tentatively titled, “The War Executives: Debating and Creating Executive Power during the American Revolutionary War.” Pearl will also be the inaugural resident research fellow at the American Philosophical Society’s The David Center for the American Revolution.

“Not everyone gets a chance to have the kind of access to these libraries and their staff that I will have,” Pearl said of the two fellowships. “I will join a really amazing list of scholars from all over the world who held or will hold these fellowships, it is a bit humbling and energizing.”

He plans to work at the David Center for the American Revolution and will reside in Philadelphia in May 2021. After that, Pearl will head to Charlottesville for June and July doing research as part of the ICJS fellowship, where he will stay on Jefferson’s estate, receive a stipend, travel funds, and present findings of his research to the library staff and others near the end of his residence.

“The new book I am working on looks at the state executives during the American Revolution for five states - Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina,” Pearl said. “With these two fellowships, I can research the wartime tenures of Pennsylvania President Joseph Reed and Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson. Both places have the manuscript collections and other resources I need to really dig into these two executives.”

“At the David Center, I will have access to a wide variety of manuscript collections from all over the United States and the United Kingdom,” he continued. “At the Jefferson Library, I will have access to an absolutely robust assortment of databases, as well as the papers of Thomas Jefferson. The kinds of documents I have access to will make the work I do very different. However, they will be the same in that a crucial part of the residential fellowship experience is that fellows work alongside really knowledgeable people, whether that be other fellows or library staff. In my experience, that environment can really help shape the contours of a project and sharpen the analysis. Sometimes scholars can get a sort of tunnel vision in the solitary nature of research and writing. The fellowship experience changes that because of the scholarly community a researcher can engage with. It is my favorite part of the process.”

The ICJS fellowship program for domestic and international scholars promotes research of Thomas Jefferson’s life and times and the community at Monticello. Since its founding, the ICJS has hosted over 400 domestic and international scholars from the United States and 25 countries around the world, including Pulitzer-Prize winning historians Alan Taylor and Jack Rakove. The Center offers short-term fellowships that allow researchers and teachers to consult with Monticello scholars and librarians and to utilize the resources of the Jefferson Library and the University of Virginia libraries.

The David Center for the American Revolution supports scholarship on the American Revolution, and champions the active engagement of scholars, educators, and the general public. As a David Center Fellow, Pearl joins an esteemed group of scholars who have gone on to write hundreds of dissertations, academic articles, papers, and books about the American Revolution and Founding Era.

Pearl joined Lycoming College in 2013. His teaching interests center on the political, religious, social, and legal history of America to 1877, and his research addresses salient questions related to local governance, British imperial politics, and state formation during the American Revolution. Pearl’s previous book project, Conceived in Crisis: The Revolutionary Creation of an American State, was recently published by the University of Virginia Press.

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