WOOSTER, Ohio — Kabria Baumgartner, assistant professor of history and women’s gender and sexuality studies at The College of Wooster, has been chosen as a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow for the coming year. The fellowship will enable her to complete work on her current book project and attend three professional development workshops.
Baumgartner, who joined Wooster’s faculty in 2011, was one of just 30 fellows chosen from a highly competitive pool of 176 applicants. The fellowships are administered by the National Academy of Education, an honorary educational society, and are funded by a grant to the Academy from the Spencer Foundation.
“I’m honored to have been chosen as a fellow,” says Baumgartner, who plans to spend much of her time in the New England area conducting archival research for her forthcoming book, A Right To Learn: African American Women and Educational Activism in Early America. The book explores how free and enslaved African American women in the nominally free states of early America fought for learning, schooling, and teaching at a time when black life was under siege.
Baumgartner’s study analyzes a range of initiatives that African American women pursued, from writing children’s literature and campaigning for school desegregation to teaching. “Instead of viewing these initiatives as discrete actions, this study juxtaposes them,” she says. “I argue that African American women such as Sarah Mapps Douglass, Susan Paul, and Sojourner Truth launched a dynamic, grassroots campaign for education to empower themselves and their communities to claim social, political, and economic rights. In doing so, these women were educational reformers.”
The workshops in which Baumgartner will participate connect established scholars with junior faculty. Topics include how to work through the complex and sometimes agonizing tenure process. “Having the opportunity to connect with emerging and renowned scholars of education is a real advantage,” says Baumgartner.
Now in its 30th year, the fellowship program has nearly 800 alumni, including many of the strongest education researchers in the field today. The Academy believes that these fellowships enhance the future of education research by developing new talent in the many disciplines and fields represented by the scholars selected. These fellowships are the oldest source of support for education research, nationally and internationally, for recent recipients of the doctorate.