Summertime and the living is easy. Well, easier.


Beth Taylor (left) and Deborah Lee
Beth Taylor (left) and Deborah Lee

By Jeanne Siler

Summer is the season when Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Tuesday Fellows presentations give way to informal Brown Bag lunch discussions among current Fellows and alumni who still live in the area.

Some spring Fellows may extend their stay into summer to finish up research or writing projects they started during the academic year. In August, it’s not unusual for fall Fellows to arrive early to get a head start on settling into third-floor offices reserved for the half-dozen new arrivals each year. A few offices are awarded to scholars and writers over the summer who cannot break away from their teaching responsibilities for a full semester, but who appreciate the UVA library access a VFH Fellowship affords, among other benefits.

This summer’s residential Fellows include the following:

Freeman Allan, of Crozet, is using his upstairs office to work on Torn Apart, a historical narrative of diaspora in the United States over a span of 350 years. He will be in residence through August. His wife, Joyce Allan, was a VFH Fellow during 1998-99.

Beth Taylor, of Barboursville, has reclaimed an office to work on her biography of Daniel Murray, an early—and rare—African American librarian at the Library of Congress. Murray is the focus of her latest book about the black upper class in the nation’s capital in the 1800s. She is the author of A Slave in the White House (2012) and a former Fellow (2010, 2014).

Deborah Lee, of Stanardsville, also a former Fellow (2005, 2010), is researching the life of Leesburg resident, Leonard Grimes, a free black champion of the Underground Railroad and the antislavery movement.

April Manalang is an assistant professor at Norfolk State University arriving in July to research the influence of religion and military service among Filipino-American citizens. This is her first VFH Fellowship.

Paula Marie Seniors, an associate professor at Virginia Tech and former Fellow (2010-2011), is returning to continue writing her book on African American women racial activists of the second half of the 20th century.

Extending Fellowships at VFH are Don DeBats, an American studies historian from Flinders University; George Carras, a religious studies research professor from Washington and Lee; Earl Swift, an independent author; and religious studies professors from UVA, Martien Halvorson-Taylor and Paul Dafydd Jones.