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C.V. Starr Center for the

Study of the American Experience

About the Center

Exploring our nation’s rich history in innovative ways, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience draws scholars and citizens, college students and national leaders to a unique 18th-century town on the Chesapeake Bay. Our guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America’s democratic experiment.


The Center is interdisciplinary, encouraging the study of traditional history alongside new approaches, and seeking to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large. It does this especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, through the George Washington Book Prize, resident fellowships, and other programs. The Center’s staff and visiting fellows frequently publish books and articles on American history in many major publications, from The New York Times and The Washington Post to National Geographic and Smithsonian.

Each year, the Center sponsors a rich array of talks and other free public programs presented by leading American historians. From its base in the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown’s colonial waterfront, the Center also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students.

Drawing on the special strengths of colonial Chestertown and the Chesapeake region, the Center explores the early republic, the rise of democracy, and the manifold ways in which the founding era continues to shape American culture. We also uphold the legacy of Washington College, established in 1782 with a mandate to honor its namesake and patron, George Washington, and to keep the “public virtues and patriot-labours” of America’s founding generation alive in the hearts of future generations.

From its inception in 2000 until 2006, the C.V. Starr Center was headed by Ted Widmer, a presidential historian and former speechwriter for the Clinton Administration’s National Security Council, who is now Director and Librarian of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. In July 2006, Adam Goodheart was appointed the Starr Center’s second Director.

The Starr Center has been established and sustained with the generous support of the Starr Foundation, the Hodson Trust, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, with project grants from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, and with the contributions of many individual donors 
and friends.