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Congratulations, young historians

Gilder Lehrman Research Project

In an effort to broaden its outreach to American high schools, the Oxford African American Studies Center, in conjunction with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, initiated a research project competition exclusively for high school students in the Fall of 2010. Participating students researched and wrote biographies on prominent African Americans, with the top articles being selected for publication in the online African American National Biography. Working with their teachers, the students were expected to follow the same guidelines used by professional writers for the site, utilizing primary sources and scholarly publications to highlight the contributions of important African Americans in their respective communities. The winners and honorable mentions are listed below (those not selected for publication received feedback on their papers from our team of scholars). All five will be published on AASC in the coming year.

Special thanks to those schools that participated, and congratulations to the winners. It is our hope that more schools will initiate similar research projects. For more information, we invite you to write to the editors.


“Brown, Kate.” By Brian Tong and Theodore Lin of McLean High School, McLean, VA.

Kate Brown (1840-1883), a retiring room attendant, became a victim of discrimination when she was forcibly removed from a whites-only train car. Later, with the support of sympathizers in the US Senate, Brown sued for damages, and won her claim before the Supreme Court in Railroad Company v. Brown (1873). See the full text here.

“Welch, Eileen Watts.” By Alec Lowman of Jordan High School, Durham, NC.

The daughter of the first surgeon in the state of North Carolina, Eileen Watts Welch (b. 1946) has used her influence as a respected entrepreneur to raise funds in support of education for medical professionals in the region. See the full text here.

Honorable Mentions

“Glover, Nathaniel.” By Kelsey Schurer and Marina Reasoner of Douglas Anderson High School, Jacksonville, FL.

Coming of age during the difficult days of the Civil Rights Era, Nathaniel Glover (b. 1943) of Jacksonville became the first elected black sheriff in the state of Florida since Reconstruction, and later became the President of Edward Waters College.

“Odrick, Alfred.” Leandi Venter, Hannah Heile and Micaela Ginnerty. McLean High School, McLean, VA.

Alfred Odrick (1812–1894), a former slave, helped establish the first African American school in Virginia, which allowed for the formation of a thriving African American community bearing his name.

“Pearson, William Gaston.” By Connor Killian of Jordan High School, Durham, NC.

A former slave, William Gaston Pearson (1858–1947) helped to found the Royal Knights of King David, a progressive reform group that focused on helping southern African Americans advance socially and economically.

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