CSU, Chico News

History Professor Awarded Prestigious National Grant

Date: 03-30-2016

Ernesto Rivera, Editorial Assistant
Public Affairs
Allison Madar, Assistant Professor
Department of History

Allison Madar to Develop Book on 18th-Century Servitude

California State University, Chico history professor Allison Madar will spend the summer poring over documents in archives and libraries in Virginia and London, England, thanks to a prestigious grant awarded to her by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The $6,000 Summer Stipends award will allow Madar to further develop her manuscript, “A People Between: Servitude and the Law in Eighteenth-Century Virginia,” which focuses on the history of and transition from indentured servitude to slavery.

“In some ways my work is offering new answers to questions that have been around in American history for a long time,” Madar said. “Mostly, what’s the nature of the transition from indentured servitude to slavery? That's a question that people have tried to find answers to and I'm offering a new way to look at that. Instead of seeing slavery and servitude as opposing forces, I'm putting them into conversation with one another.”

Madar, who teaches colonial and revolutionary American history, will spend two months traveling between the Library of Virginia, the London Metropolitan Archives, the National Archives, and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where she will visit archives containing court records and transcripts, contracts and governors' papers to gain more information and insight for her manuscript.

In the early 18th century, indenture servitude was a way for people to gain passage from Europe to North America and required spending a contracted number of years working for room and board. Madar’s manuscript explores how the laws created to regulate slavery during that time were also used to control and retain power over indentured servants.

Of the more than 800 applications it received, the NEH selected just 10 percent to receive grants after extensive peer reviews. The competitiveness gave Madar a huge boost in motivation to help transform her manuscript into her first book.

"It's a really competitive award from a nationally recognized institution,” she said. “For the NEH to be willing to support my project means that they believe it makes an important contribution."