Research Report - Theodore Braun

Chelsea Berry - Report - March 2017

Research Report - Robert H. Popkin

Amanda Johnson - Report - December 2016

Gwin J. and Ruth Kolb Research Travel Award

D. Andrew Johnson - Report - August 2016

Tracey Hutchings-Goetz - Report - June 2016

Research Report: Aubrey Williams Research Travel Award

Jane Wessel - Report - June 2015

Research Report: Richard Popkins - May 2015

Amanda Johnson - Report

Research Report: Aubrey L. Williams - April 2015

Jordan Howell - Report

Research Report: Robert R. Palmer -October 2013

Julia M. Gossard - Report

Research Report: Paula Backscheider Archival Fellowship - March 2013

Brendan Gillis - Report

Research Report: Richard H. Popkin - October 2012

Amanda Johnson - Report

Research Report: Aubrey Williams Research Travel Award - August 9, 2012

Rachel Scarborough King - Report

Research Report: Gwin J. & Ruth Kolb Research Travel Award – September 15, 2010

The Gwin J. & Ruth Kolb Research Travel Award supported my recent, very successful research trip to archives in and around Edinburgh, Scotland. Not only was I able to study, as originally proposed, the unpublished letters of Anne MacVicar Grant (1755-1838) in relation to the selection of letters that she published in 1806, but I also found so much additional material on her circulation of letters and poetry while searching through Grant’s surviving manuscripts that it spawned two new projects.

As projected, I spent most of my time in the manuscript reading rooms of Edinburgh University Library and the National Library of Scotland, where most of Grant’s surviving letters are held. I gathered a wealth of information from her correspondence on the questions that are central to my current work on her: How extensive were her social networks, especially once she lived in the remote Highland village of Laggan? Who were her primary correspondents, and what were their main topics when writing to each other? And how does the image of Grant that can be gleaned from her unpublished letters relate to the way she characterized herself in the selection of letters she published in Letters from the Mountains (1806)?

In addition, I discovered two sets of letters that have so far not or only insufficiently been consulted by Grant scholars, one deposited in the University Library of St Andrews University and the other in the Edinburgh City Archives. These two new caches of letters added greatly to my understanding of Grant’s late life in Edinburgh as well as of her perspective on her own publishing ventures. Some of the new material in these letters in fact suggested a new, book-length project on familiar letters, social authorship, and manuscript publication in which Grant will figure as an important case study.

Unexpectedly, however, I also spent a significant portion of my stay working on a manuscript miscellany (held at Edinburgh University Library) containing original poetry by Grant and some of her friends as well as transcriptions of published material, which she compiled in the early 1820s. I had known of the miscellany’s existence before I began the trip, but only when reading through the volume did I realize the importance of the manuscript circulation of poetry to her social circles and her sense of herself as an author. The insights that the miscellany provided now not only enrich my current work but will also form the core of an article-length project on Grant’s friendships, her poetry, and memorialization.

Sören Hammerschmidt

Jennifer L. Palmer Research Report
“An Ocean between Them: Race, Gender, and the Family in France and its Colonies”

September 1, 2010

The Robert R. Palmer Travel Research Award from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies generously supported the final research for my manuscript “An Ocean between Them: Race, Gender, and the Family in France and its Colonies.”  With the assistance of the award I spent two months in France researching at six archives in Paris, Aix-en-Provence, and Chantilly.  I followed the lives of individuals and families who I already discussed in the context of France, focusing more fully on their lives in Saint-Domingue.  In the process I added important colonial context to the project, which now has a truly transatlantic focus.  I also broadened the lens I train on the metropole by gathering information about slavery in Paris that will act as a point of comparison and a platform for making larger claims about race and gender in France.

Although I initially planned to conduct follow-up research on only two chapters of my manuscript, in the end I found information relevant to four chapters.  The first chapter argues that white women used their positions as patrons and arbiters of taste to shape French ideas about race, and examines representations of people of color in France.  I visited four archives that will provide further context and support for this chapter.  At the Richelieu site of the Bibliothèque Nationale I researched fashion prints from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century.  Many of these prints show wealthy, aristocratic, fashionable women attended by young black boys, suggesting that owning a slave became something of a fad.  In this context, slaves held a position as luxury consumer objects rather than as sources of labor.  Mademoiselle de Clermont, cousin of Louis XIV and surintendante of the household of his wife Marie Leczinska, drew on this fashion when she commissioned her portrait surrounded by slaves.  At the Archives Nationales I examined documents relating to the her management of the queen’s household, with the goal of further understanding how representations of slaves helped white French women to construct their own versions of the relationship between race and gender as social and cultural categories.  I continued this research at the Musée Condé in Chantilly, Mademoiselle de Clermont’s former home.  There I delved into Mademoiselle de Clermont’s own household accounts and personal inventories, to try to access the value she attached to her portrait painted surrounded by slaves.  The Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in Paris has a very interesting portrait of the so-called “Mooress of Moret” in its collections, which seems to be the earliest portrait of a black woman painted in France.  Equally as interesting are the rumors which surrounded the unnamed woman, which open up ways of understanding the relationship between race and social status in early modern France.  I will discuss this portrait in the first chapter, and I also have gathered enough information to begin writing an article on the mysterious Mooress.

The second chapter examines how colonialism shaped family and gender roles in France.  In the Archives d’Outre Mer in Aix-en-Provence I searched for information on Jean-Severin Regnaud de Beaumont, who left his wife and children in La Rochelle to make his fortune in Saint-Domingue.  He had a second family there with a free woman of color, and in his will he flouted both his marriage contract and common law by leaving all his resources to his illegitimate mixed-race daughters.  I reviewed notary records from Léogane, where Regnaud lived, to compare how other white men went about transferring property to their colonial offspring; they did this in startlingly creative ways that suggest the flexibility of colonial law.  Information from the Collection Moreau de Saint-Méry also will help me to provide general background to colonial life.

I also gleaned further information about the Fleuriau and Mandron families from both the Archives Nationales and the Archives d’Outre Mer.  Fleuriau, a rich merchant and plantation owner, had eight mixed-race children with a woman who at one time had been his slave.  Many of these children remained in Saint-Domingue, and his sons took over the management of his plantation in Croix-des-Bouquets.  Through notary and parish records I found out that his sons made contracts, owned plantations of their own, married, and had families who were counted as prominent members of the community of free people of color. 

Finally, I also further researched slaves who had been brought to France.  In the Archives Nationales I examined the registers of slaves in Paris; this will provide an important point of comparison for registers in La Rochelle, and will allow me to support broader conclusions about slavery in France.  I also examined the correspondence betwee the Minister of the Marine and the Intendant of La Rochelle, which will help me to further understand official policies towards slavery, how they changed, and how they were implemented locally.  Most excitingly, I found evidence that one of the enslaved men whose case I discuss at length made an effort to gain his freedom through the judicial system.  Finally, at the Bibliothèque Nationale Mitterand site I found documents relating to the legal processes of slaves who attempted to gain their slavery through the courts. 

My research in France has enabled me to broaden the scope of my project, and to support claims that extend beyond the immediate locales of La Rochelle and Saint-Domingue.  Specifically, the research will help me to demonstrate the interconnectedness of France and its colonies, and how colonialism and slavery shaped family structures, strategies, and gender roles within France.  This research re-energized my manuscript revision process, and since returning from France I have made considerable progress revising and incorporating the new information.  I plan to have a fully-revised manuscript ready to send to publishers by the end of the year.  I sincerely thank ASECS for its generous support of my final research.  I look forward to continued engagement with the Society!




Dawn Shedden - Popkin

Elizabeth Neidenbach - Backscheider

Dolores O'Higgins - Irish American