CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — University of Illinois history professor Marsha Barrett is the recipient of a 2019 fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.
A specialist in modern U.S. political and African American history, Barrett is one of only 81 fellows chosen from more than 1,100 applicants, according to an ACLS news release.
The ACLS Fellowship supports scholars for six to 12 months of full-time research and writing. Barrett will use hers during the 2020 calendar year to complete a book manuscript on former New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, moderate Republicanism and racial liberalism during and after the civil rights movement.
Her book will consider the gubernatorial career of Rockefeller (1959-73) – also a frequent presidential candidate and later a vice president – to contextualize the decline of centrism and moderation in American politics, particularly in the Northeast, after the passage of mid-1960s federal civil rights legislation. (See the ACLS page on her fellowship.)
“My work reimagines the traditional political history that focuses solely on elected leaders and high politics by incorporating the concerns of social history, with an emphasis on racially inflected policies related to welfare, drug policies, policing and mass incarceration,” Barrett said. “I'm seeking to understand how and why punitive policies known for their disproportionate effect on racial minorities originated with a moderate governor who first made his name as an advocate for civil rights legislation.”
Founded in 1919, the ACLS is a nonprofit federation of 75 scholarly organizations, advancing American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences. ACLS employs its $140 million endowment and $35 million annual operating budget to support scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, and to advocate for the centrality of the humanities in the modern world.