Dr. Fea on winning the Franklin Research Grant

If you have not yet heard, the American Philosophical Society has awarded Dr. Fea the Franklin Grant! Dr. Fea recently took the time to answer some questions about this major research grant and future research opportunities.

Q: What is the American Philosophical Society?

A: I am guessing that many people have walked right past the APS building in Philadelphia without realizing it.  The original building is located right next to Independence Hall (it is on the left as you pass through the security checkpoint).  The current APS is right across the street.  I always point it out when I give tours of colonial Philadelphia.  The APS was founded by Ben Franklin in 1743 for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge.”  Anyone who has studied Franklin’s Autobiography with me in the U.S. survey course or in my Colonial America course knows that the APS (along with the Library Company, the Junto, and other organizations founded by Franklin) was one of the most important institutions of the American Enlightenment.  Today the APS continues to fulfill its mission by provided grants and research fellowships to scholars doing work in the area of history, humanities, science, and social science.

Q:  What is the purpose of the Franklin Research Grant? Are there expectations that go along with it?

A: The APS awards many different grants each year.  The Franklin Grant provides money to support travel to archives and the purchase of materials (books, microfilm, etc…) related to a particular scholarly project.  I am honored to have received this award for the second time.  I received my last Franklin Grant over ten years ago while I was a young(er) assistant professor at Messiah.

Q: Where do you intend to focus your research during your sabbatical next year?

A: As some of you may have heard through the grapevine, I will be taking a sabbatical next year.  I am thankful to the Messiah College administration for allowing me to take the year off.  This means I will not be teaching or serving as department chair.  I am pleased to announce that Dr. Wilson and Dr. LaGrand will be splitting the chair duties while I am gone.  I am sure you will be hearing more about that later.  I will still be in the area, but will probably take short research trips throughout the year.  The Franklin Grant will enable me to continue to work on a project on religion and the American Revolution that I have been toiling away on now for close to a decade.  It will help fund visits to archives in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York.

Q: What excites you most about winning the Research Grant and/or about your upcoming sabbatical?

A: We have done a lot over the course of the last five years I have been chair and I need a break!  I love being chair of the Messiah College History Department, but it keeps me very busy. The Franklin Grant will allow me to take more time to do my research and writing.  I think it is important that faculty get sabbaticals to work on projects like this.  Although it does pull us out of the classroom and takes us away from students, I am a firm believer that one of the best ways of maintaining our national reputation as a history department is for our faculty to develop reputations as scholars, authors, and public spokespeople for the role of history in society.  As the reputation of Messiah’s history department grows, our students benefit in terms of acceptance to top graduate schools and the landing of jobs in all kinds of fields.

Congratulations to Dr. Fea!

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