Lapidus Center Fellows

The Lapidus Center Fellowships are part of the Scholars-in-Residence Program, housed in the Scholars Center. The program encourages research and writing on black history and culture, facilitates interaction among participating scholars, and provides widespread dissemination of findings through lectures, publications, and colloquia and seminars.


2017-2018 Long-term Fellows


We are pleased to welcome our new Long-term Lapidus Center Fellows, Mr. Eric Herschthal and Dr. Yuko Miki. They will begin their tenure in September, 2017 and will be with us until March 1, 2018.

Eric Herschthal graduated from Columbia University with a Ph.D. in history, and spent the past academic year as a Dissertation Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation, “Antislavery Science: How the Early Abolitionist Movement Shaped Science, 1770-1830,” explored the critical tough overlooked role scientists played in the transatlantic abolitionist movement. Grants from the American Philosophical Society, the Huntington Library, the National Science Foundation, the Omohundro Institute and the University of Miami have supported his research. Eric received a B.A. in history from Princeton University and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. He continues to write about slavery, race and history for mainstream publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Slate and The New Republic.


Yuko Miki is an Assistant Professor of Iberian Atlantic History at Fordham University. At the Center she will work on a book project, Emancipation’s Shadow: Illegal Slavery in the Brazilian Atlantic, a narrative history of people who became enmeshed in the networks of illegal slavery in the nineteenth-century Atlantic World, linking Brazil with West and West Central Africa, the U.S., Cuba, Great Britain, and Portugal. Her research investigates the significance of illegal slavery and coercive labor that emerged throughout the Atlantic World, especially Brazil, amidst an anti-slavery movement. Attention to illegal slavery offers a counter narrative to the history of the nineteenth-century as the “Age of Emancipation.” Dr. Miki’s project asks how illegal slavery can critique these liberal, modernizing narratives that have been foundational to Atlantic World history.

2017-2018 Short-term Fellows


Alicia L. Monroe is Mellon Assistant Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. She received her PhD in history from Emory University. Dr. Monroe’s project explores the issue of visual and material markers of freedom from 1850 to 1888 using the Cartes-de-Visite Collection and the Brazil Collection (1860-1890) featuring images of Afro-Brazilians engaged in labor housed at the Photographs and Prints Division of the Schomburg Center. The images collected will be the basis for a chapter of the book manuscript entitled “Brotherhoods of Their Own: Community, Status, and Black Civic Leadership in São Paulo, Brazil, 1850-1920.” The overall project is a study of how black identified people participating in black associative spaces configured, understood, and performed social status within and beyond black Catholic religious spaces during the transition from slavery to freedom in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The research to be undertaken during the Lapidus Fellowship will explore the ways free people visually marked their autonomy in a context where slavery, even when in absolute decline, had broad cultural significance and impact on their lives. The project will also address the methods needed to more accurately read and interpret visual primary source material in classroom instruction and wider scholarship as digital archives and humanities projects proliferate.


 Jesse Olsavsky is a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh. His dissertation project is titled, “Fire and Sword Will Do More Good”: Fugitive Slaves, Vigilance Committees, and the Rise of Revolutionary Abolitionism, 1835-1860. This project explores the ways vigilance committees transformed the abolitionist movement by organizing across races, classes, and genders, and by learning directly from the thousands of fugitive slaves whom they worked with on a daily basis. Vigilance committees protected free black neighborhoods from slave catchers, organized the Underground Railroad, participated in all the radical movements of the times, and, by placing the fugitive at the vanguard of abolitionism, radicalized the practice and theory of the movement.


Marlene L. Daut is an Associate Professor of English and Cultural Studies and the Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies at Claremont Graduate University and The Claremont Colleges.

Dr. Daut’s book project is a comparative anthology of fictional works on the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) that represents the first attempt to connect in one volume the over 150 novels, poetry, and plays that were written about the slave revolts and military strikes in Saint-Domingue in the long 19th-century. These excerpts include fictional representations of the Haitian Revolution from 1791-1900 by U.S., German, West Indian, Brazilian, Italian, French, British, and Polish authors.

2016-2017 Long-term Fellows


Di Lorenzo head shotAnthony Di Lorenzo is an Assistant Professor of American History at Savannah State University. He received his PhD  from Loyola University in Chicago.

Di Lorenzo’s book project, A Higher Law: Anti-Slavery Radicalism in Early America, 1760-1800, recovers and analyzes the most radical voices in the early abolitionist movement, tracing the ideological divisions that arose during the Age of Revolution. The cause of antislavery in New York brought together even bitter political opponents such as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, for a time, but partisanship stifled radical challenges to the institution of slavery by the late 1790s. The politicization of antislavery activity during this period undermined black political participation and encouraged excessive gradualism. Enslavement, even in the North, was therefore allowed to persist well into the nineteenth century.

Abolition and Republicanism Over the Transatlantic Long Term, 1640-1800″ by Anthony di Lorenzo and John Donoghue.


Misevich HeadshotPhilip Misevich is an Assistant Professor of History at St. John’s University. He received his PhD from Emory University.

Misevich’s project examines the relationship between abolition, colonization and the social, political and economic changes they sparked in southern Sierra Leone between 1790 and 1860. During that period Britain established Freetown, its first antislavery base in Africa, and from that settlement aimed to suppress the transatlantic slave trade across West Africa. His research examines how Africans living on Freetown’s frontier responded to the joint pressures of abolition and colonization, considering how they shaped and challenged these complex and interrelated processes. It aims to understand abolition from an African perspective and through the use of African voices.

“A Digital Archive of Slave Voyages Details the Largest Forced Migration in History”.


2016-2017 Short-term Fellows


WAWestenley Alcenat is a PhD student at Columbia University.

His project titled, “The Elusive Quest: Black Emigration to Haiti and the Struggle for Full Citizenship in a White Republic, 1815-1865,” explores the experience and radicalism of the African-American settlers who emigrated to Haiti in the nineteenth century. His research focuses on how this migration movement influenced African-American and Haitian political thought and the transnational struggle for Black citizenship before and during the American Civil War.




Jonathan Lande is a PhD student at Brown University.

Breaking from triumphalist narratives of black Union troops, his research offers a new interpretation of black soldiers and emancipation during the U.S. Civil War. The project places black men’s military service within a transatlantic context as a form of labor where former slaves went from laboring in cotton fields to laboring as soldiers. In training them as soldiers, the Union army disciplined black men, but many thought military discipline and racist officers essentially replicated slavery. As such, thousands deserted and mutinied—asserting freedom beyond the limited sort provided by military service—but were often captured, tried in the courts-martial, and punished. The project analyzes how their resistance and passage through the military justice system shaped emancipation and limited freedom.



Neal D. Polhemus received his PhD from the University of South Carolina.

As a Ph.D. candidate in the final stages of my degree, it has been an honor and a pleasure to receive a three-month residential fellowship from the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic. The fellowship has allowed me to visit, investigate and collect documentary evidence from six area archives and repositories. From the Melville and Frances Herskovits Papers at the Schomburg Center, I was able to document the ways in which Dahomian and Ghanaian elites controlled access to inland supply routes where captive Africans were seized. The Herskovits Papers also provided documentation of how West African folkloric traditions present during the era of the transatlantic slave trade continued to be integral parts of daily life for many Africans decades after the trade was abolished.The Afro-Latin American collection, also at the Schomburg Center, provided documentation on the commercial operation of the slave trade in colonial Buenos Aires and the ethnic composition of captives arriving in Spanish Caribbean ports.Another important collection housed at the Schomburg Center was the Slave Ship Fanny collection. These papers provided depositions and firsthand accounts taken during judicial proceedings after the ship was seized off the Bahamas in the winter of 1800. As the Bahama Islands were one of the most important terminals for the transshipment of captives in the intercolonial slave trade, these papers provided important documentation on the operation of the trade to secondary markets in Spanish America. In addition, several of the maps, images and illustrations on the Africana and Black History digital collection were incorporated into three dissertation chapters. The Lapidus Center fellowship provided me with the resources necessary to explore underutilized manuscript collections that have considerably bolstered the arguments made in my dissertation that would not have been possible otherwise.


2015-2016 Long-term Fellows 


Caree BantonCaree Banton is an Assistant Professor of History and African and African American Studies at the University of Arkansas. She received her PhD from Vanderbilt University.

In “More Auspicious Shores:” Post-emancipation Barbadian Emigrants in Pursuit of Freedom, Citizenship, and Nationhood in Liberia, 1834-1912 – the project she worked on as a Lapidus Center fellow – Banton uses the narrative of the efforts of a group of fifty Barbadian families to emigrate to Liberia to help African Americans build up a black nation that would be the envy of the world. In exploring the notion of Liberia as a “more auspicious shore” Banton highlights shifting meanings and experiences of freedom, citizenship, and nationhood and the changing salience of race in the making of a transatlantic black identity.

Listen to Dr. Banton talk about her project and her fellowship


Nicole WrightNicole M. Wright received her PhD from Yale. She is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In her book project, Wright explores literary treatments of law, judgment,  representation, and slavery in British and American fiction of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Her articles have appeared in Eighteenth-Century FictionEighteenth-Century Studies, and the Toronto Quarterly.

Dr. Wright talks about her project and her fellowship at the Lapidus Center



2015 Inaugural Long-term Fellow

joyThe Lapidus Center’s inaugural long-term fellow was Natalie Joy. She received her PhD in History from the University of California, Los Angeles and is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Northern Illinois University.

Her book project, Abolitionists and Indians in the Antebellum Era, considers the relationship between Native Americans and the American antislavery movement from the 1820s through the 1850s. It argues that Indians played a crucial role in shaping abolitionism during this period; they attended antislavery meetings; communicated with abolitionists; and sheltered fugitive slaves. In return, Indians received support from the antislavery movement as they fought against the loss of their land.

“I am honored and thankful to be the recipient of a long-term Lapidus Center fellowship,” said Joy. “It has given me the gift of time and space to work exclusively on my book. I am also pleased to have had access to the incredible resources of the Schomburg Center.”

Dr. Joy was in residence from January to June 2015. She describes her research and the benefits of her fellowship.