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C.V. Starr Center for the

Study of the American Experience

Frederick Douglass Fellowships

Frederick Douglass Fellowships support independent work in African-American studies and related areas. The author, activist, and diplomat Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), for whom the fellowships were named, was born in Talbot County, Maryland, about 30 miles south of Chestertown, and retained a deep attachment to the Eastern Shore until the end of his life.

An annual spring semester grant of up to $1500 to a Washington College sophomore or junior to work on a research project related to African-American studies. 

Douglass Fellowships were established through a generous gift from Maurice Meslans and Margaret Holyfield of St. Louis. They fund an annual spring semester grant of up to $1,500 to a sophomore or junior to work on a research project related to African-American studies. Topics pertaining to—in the words of the donors—other “minority American” fields (Asian-American studies, LGBT studies, Latino studies, et al.) will also be considered.

The grant covers research trips and book purchases, and helps support students while they work on their projects. Each Frederick Douglass Fellow selects a faculty member to guide the project; the mentor receives a $500 honorarium for his or her participation. Working side by side with their chosen mentor, Douglass Fellows are able to pursue independent research beyond the classroom.

Fellows are required to present their work in written form by the end of the semester, submit it for publication in a journal or magazine, and give an oral presentation on their findings.

Student Applications for Spring 2016 must be received by February 1, 2016.
Applications may be submitted via email to or mailed to:

Jean Wortman
C.V. Starr Center Fellowships
The Custom House
101 South Water Street 
Chestertown, MD 21620

For more information, please contact Starr Center Assistant Director Jean Wortman at 410-810-7165 or jwortman2@washcoll.edu.

The Starr Center’s annual Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellowship brings to campus scholars, writers, musicians and others engaged in the study or interpretation of African-American history or a related field. Besides providing the recipient an opportunity for a period of focused research and writing, the fellowship also offers Washington College students and faculty a chance to spend time with some of today’s leading thinkers in the arts and humanities.

Past Fellows


John JarboeBearded Ladies Cabaret Company: Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellows
Wide Awake: A Civil War Cabaret




Phaedra Scott ’14: “Discovering August Wilson’s Hill District”
Faculty mentor: Michele Volansky, Department of Drama




Clay Risen: Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow
Editor at The New York Times
Author: Bill of the Century: Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act


Alan Taylor, 2014 George Washington Book Prize FinalistAlan Taylor: Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow
Professor of History, University of California Davis
Author: The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832, 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winner



Kathy Thornton ’13: “The Beginning of the End: How Conflicting Anglo-Powhatan Relations Triggered the Massacre of 1622”
Faculty Mentor: Adam Goodheart, Director,
C.V. Starr Center


Peter H. Wood: Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow
Emeritus Professor of History, Duke University
Author, Near Andersonville: Winslow Homer’s Civil War




Beverly Frimpong ’12: “W.E.B. DuBois & Booker T. Washington: An Ideological Fusion for the 20th Century”
Faculty Mentor: Joseph Prud’homme, Department of Political Science



Brian Suell ’12: “The Essence of Equality:
An Investigation of the Current State of Education
and Poverty in American Cities”
Faculty Mentor: Jill Ogline Titus, C.V. Starr Center

Sherilynn Ifill
: Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow
Professor of Law, University of Maryland School of Law
Author, On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century