Miller Center

Miller Center National Fellowship

Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, the National Fellowship Program, a longstanding initiative of the Miller Center, will fall under the leadership of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at U.Va.. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation, created in 1980, currently offers the premier graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship at the University. To learn more about the National Fellows Program, including how to apply, click here.

Meet The Fellows

Nancy A. Banks - History, Columbia University

Project: The Struggle over Affirmative Action in the New York City Building Trades, 1961–1976

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Fellowship year: 2004

Mentor: Thomas Sugrue, University of Pennsylvania

Nancy Banks is the Dean of Students at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.

While much scholarly work has been devoted to federal civil rights policy in the 1960s – including several studies on the growing commitment by the civil rights movement and the federal government in that decade to Affirmative Action – Banks believed there had been scant attention paid to Affirmative Action as it relates to the building trades unions, nor to the bitter and lengthy conflicts between civil rights activists, minority workers, and union members. Drawing upon a number of sources – including government documents and court records; the correspondence of political leaders, union officials, and civil rights organizations; and personal interviews with workers, politicians, and labor activists – Banks dissertation explored how Affirmative Action conflicts played out in New York City between 1961 and 1976, and analyzed the impact that they had on the development, implementation, and evolution of the nation's union-targeted affirmative action policies.


Betsy Beasley - American Studies, Yale University

Project: “Serving the World: Energy Contracting, Logistical Labors, and the Culture of Globalization, 1945-2008”

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Betsy A. Beasley is a Ph.D candidate in American Studies at Yale University.  Her dissertation traces the rise of Houston as a global city in the half-century following World War II, arguing that the city’s business elite, especially those in oilfield services companies including Brown & Root, Schlumberger, and Hughes Tool, imagined and enacted a new vision of globalism.  Vehemently resistant to the demands of labor unions, corporate executives positioned the U.S. not as a center of manufacturing and production but as a white-collar headquarters offering expertise in logistics, engineering, and resource management to the rest of the globe.  This project charts the material developments that established Houston as a global center of petrochemical services alongside the cultural narratives that influenced and helped make sense of social, political, and economic change. 

Whereas the most common vision of American global power in the postwar years emphasized the U.S. as an industrial producer whose commodities and high standard of living would be exported around the world, this project highlights an alternative vision based on exporting service and expertise and importing commodities and raw materials, a different globalism that would come to dominate American culture and politics in the post-industrial 1970s.  Drawing methodologically from geography, cultural history, and the history of capitalism, Beasley examines a management vision of U.S. global power while also exploring the resistance of organized labor to this imperial project and the attempts of executives to convince global oil consumers to support U.S. expertise as the best means to ensure access to inexpensive petroleum.   

Beasley holds a B.A. in history from the University of Georgia and an M.S. in Urban Affairs from Hunter College of the City University of New York.  Her work has been supported by the American Historical Association, the New Orleans Center for the Global South at Tulane University, and the Coca-Cola World Fund. She co-hosts and produces "Who Makes Cents: A History of Capitalism Podcast" with David Stein.

Selected Recent Publications

Fighting for a Radical City: Student Protesters and the Politics of Space in 1960s and 1970s Downtown Manhattan.Urban History Review 37, no. 2 (March 2009)

Another New Kind of Marriage.Public Seminar,  July 20, 2015.


Christopher Cimaglio - Communications, University of Pennsylvania

Project: "Contested Majority: The Representation of the White Working Class in US Politics from the 1930s to the 1990s"

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“Contested Majority” examines how American politicians, journalists, pollsters, academics, social movement groups, and others have studied, written about, and claimed to speak for white working class people and how this work has shaped American politics. While popular and scholarly accounts of the rise and decline of liberalism and the rise of conservatism in the twentieth century US have often given the white working class a very prominent role (for instance, as the New Deal’s popular base and the forefront of the white reaction that provided an electoral majority for conservatives), this work sometimes frames the white working class as a homogenous group with uniform political views—centered, since the late 1960s, on cultural and racial conservatism.  Placing primary emphasis on how white workers have been represented in national politics and media and those who have represented them, “Contested Majority” offers a different angle on a familiar story.  It traces how prominent understandings of white working class politics, identity, and culture—from a militant, progressive working class combating economic royalists to culturally conservative and racially anxious “Middle Americans” and “Reagan Democrats” opposed to liberal elites—emerged, circulated, impacted political contestation, and shaped elite decision-making.  In doing so, “Contested Majority” points to the power of the white working class majority as a political symbol, one that has consistently featured in debate around fundamental issues in American politics, including the legitimacy of capitalism, unions, challenges to prevailing understandings of race, gender, and class, and an activist state combating inequality.


Sarah Coleman - History, Princeton University

Project: Redefining American: The Shifting Politics of Immigration Policy at the End of the 20th Century

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Sarah Coleman’s dissertation “Redefining American: The Shifting Politics of Immigration Policy at the End of the 20th Century,” explores how politicians, activists, citizens and the courts competed to define the rights of immigrant persons in the U.S. who did not have American citizenship status in the last quarter of the twentieth-century. With the passage of the landmark Hart-Celler Act in 1965, the United States entered a new era of immigration.  This period of massive immigration led to a fierce struggle, which has been at the heart of contemporary American political history, between activists who fought to ensure rights and benefits for these newcomers and those who opposed open borders and sought to limit the rights of immigrants.

Battles over education, health, welfare, and civil liberties were deeply influenced by this influx of immigration.  This phase in the longer struggle over the rights of immigrants began in the mid-1970s when a network of liberal activists, who had roots in the civil rights movement, successfully fought in the courts to expand the rights of non-citizens to include protection from workplace discrimination, the benefits of the welfare state, and the right to education and other social services. Coleman’s dissertation then looks at the politics of immigration policy that followed these revolutionary court decisions through to the early twenty first century.  In doing so, she traces the development of a movement, within both political parties, to limit the expansion of these rights.  She focuses on some of their success but also on the challenges and obstacles that they have encountered in rolling back the changes that took place since 1965.  

Selected Recent Publications

"Sorry, Trump. Ike's shameful program failed." CNN, November 12, 2015.


Jack Epstein - History, Ohio University

Project: Behind the Menancing Racket: Organized Labor, Federal Anti-Racketeering Policy, and the Law and Order Origins of the Modern American State, 1927–1970

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Fellowship year: 2012

Mentor: Daniel Ernst, Georgetown University Law Center

Jack Epstein is an Instructor at Tulane University.

Epstein’s dissertation promises to recast the history of the New Deal state and its policy and political legacies, by exploring the emergence of federal racketeering laws. Conservatives up to the 1970s, he contends, used these mechanisms to undermine the New Deal state by fostering competition and resisting federal intervention in labor markets. Titled “Behind the Menacing Racket: Organized Labor, Federal Anti-Racketeering Policy, and the Law and Order Origins of the Modern American State, 1927-1970,” Epstein’s project challenges traditional assumptions about the development of political ideologies. 


Jeannette Estruth - History, New York University

Project: "A Political History of the Silicon Valley: Structural Change, Urban Transformation, and Local Movements, 1945-1995"

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Fellowship year: 2017

Mentor: Mark Brilliant, University of California, Berkeley

Jeannette Estruth has been selected as the Miller Center/ Hagley Library Dissertation Fellow in Business and Politics.

It has become accepted wisdom that the history of Silicon Valley represents something universal about the power of technology to transform national and global economies in the twenty-first century. While acknowledging the influence of the Valley on technologies like computing, telecommunications, and surveillance, Jeannette Estruth’s dissertation takes a wider view, interrogating the relationships between the politics of urban development, labor organizing, and social inclusion to understand how the technology industry became synonymous with California’s South Bay Area in the postwar period. By drawing from a variety of archival sources-- oral histories, corporate memos, activist pamphlets, and union newspapers-- it argues that debates over land use, race, gender, labor, and the urban environment shaped the technology industry’s growth in the Valley in the twentieth century. Estruth posits that local claims to economic inclusion and the concurrent rise of the technology industry combined to produce a new normative political discourse by the 1990s. Defining this impulse as “techno-libertarianism,” she asks how an industry with its roots in federal defense spending came to see itself in opposition to the state; how the culture of participatory entrepreneurship sought to replace the culture of participatory left politics as the hallmark of progressivism; and how the collectivist ideals of the local political left were appropriated into a global promise of universal human liberation through market technologies. By uniting the technological history of the Silicon Valley with its urban and political history, her project prompts new understandings of the emergence of global economies in the postwar period.


Jonathon Free - History, Duke University

Project: Redistributing Risk: The Political Ecology of Coal in Late-Twentieth Century Appalachia

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Free has been selected as the Miller Center/Hagley Library Dissertation Fellow in Business and Politics.

Jonathon Free’s dissertation traces the U.S. coal industry’s increased reliance on surface mining in the late twentieth century. During the late 1960s and 1970s, Congress passed new mine safety regulations that significantly lowered the number of deaths from explosions, roof-falls, and other underground disasters. Coal companies responded to safety legislation by expanding surface mining operations, which were less accident-prone but more environmentally destructive than underground mines.

This redistribution of the risks of mining had profound implications for the political culture of coal mining communities. In Appalachian states like Kentucky and West Virginia, where coal companies traditionally played a major role in the local economy, the mining jobs that remained became more precious, as did the few mountains left untouched by surface mining operations. Meanwhile, the risks of surface mining became more acceptable to many coalfield residents as the industry depicted it as a way to provide the energy that the nation needed while also improving both the aesthetic quality and economic attractiveness of the land. As a result, the debate over surface mining became a point of fracture in increasingly divided communities.

While scholars of environmental policy, American business, or working-class communities have tended to analyze the history of each subfield separately, this project draws on the history of capitalism, critical geography, and interdisciplinary studies of regulation to argue that the shared history of policymakers, business people, and workers did not unfold in insolated silos. 


Shane Hamilton - Social Studies of Science and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Project: Trucking Country: Food Politics and the Transformation of Rural Life in Postwar America

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Shane Hamilton is Lecturer in International Business and Strategy at the York Management School

The History News Network selected him in 2008 as a "Top Young Historian."

Hamilton's dissertation traced the efforts of state and federal agricultural experts, cooperating with food processors and supermarkets, to create the postwar marketing machine. Emerging from an effort to contain the political controversies surrounding New Dealism in agriculture, this marketing machine sought to eliminate economic uncertainties (such as seasonal and regional variations in production, or potential strikes from unionized workers) from the food distribution chain. According to postwar USDA economists, policymakers, and engineers, the rationalization of food marketing could effectively keep commodity prices high for farmers, without production controls, while consumer food prices remained steady. Industrial farms, high-tech food processors, and suburban supermarkets, by practicing economies of scale and by using the latest technologies – from pesticides on farms to forklifts in cold-storage warehouses – thus emerged as part of a political effort to solve the decades-old "farm problem" by reducing the cost of moving food from farms to consumers. Ultimately, Hamilton hypothesized trucks were political technologies, used to define the contours of public policy regarding foods and farmers.

Selected Recent Publications

The Kitchen Debate and Cold War Consumer Politics: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford-St. Martin's Press, 2014).

"Agribusiness, the Family Farm, and the Politics of Technological Determinism in the Post-World War II United States.Technology & Culture (July 2014).

"Supermarkets, Free Markets, and the Problem of Buyer Power in the Postwar United States." in What's Good for Business: Business and Politics since World War II, ed. Julian Zelizer and Kim Phillips-Fein (Oxford University Press, 2012).


Derek S. Hoff - History, University of Virginia

Project: Are We Too Many?: The Political Economy of Population in the Twentieth-Century United States

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Derek S. Hoff is Associate Professor of History at the University of Utah.

Hoff's research interests include the role of natural monopoly theory in the rise of the regulation of the telephone industry in the 19th century, development of inheritance tax, and the history of income inequality across industrialized nations.

Hoff's dissertation discussed a history of the population debate in the modern United States. In particular, it focused on the subset of that debate that focuses on the interrelationship between demography and the economy. Most histories of "population" in America center on cultural and ethnic questions such as the early-century eugenics movement and the nation's recurrent anti-immigrationism. Hoff's study returned the economic-demographic debate to the center of not only the course of population thought and policy, but also the larger American political economy. 

Selected Recent Publications

The State and the Stork: The Population Debate and Policy Making in US History (University of Chicago Press, 2012).

The False Alarm over U.S. Fertility." New York Times, April 16, 2013.

Fighting Foreclosure: The Blaisdell Case, The Contract Clause, and the Great Depressionwith John Fliter (University Press of Kansas, 2012).

A Modest Proposal for a New Population Debate." Need to Know, PBS, July 2012.


Heather Lewis - History, New York University

Project: Scaling Down: Half a Century of Community Control in New York City's Schools, 1945–95

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Heather Lewis is Associate Professor of Art and Design Education at the Pratt Institute’s School of Art and Design.

Lewis’s teaching and research integrate the history of education, art and design, and urban development through the prism of New York City’s urban communities and their changes over time.

The community control movement in education was part of a multi-pronged movement targeting housing, employment, healthcare, policing and welfare in many of New York City's African-American, Puerto Rican, and Asian communities of the late 1960s. While the movement for community control of schools paralleled and intersected with organizing in other fields, it had a distinct trajectory and a unique set of outcomes because of the role public education is supposed to play in producing the conditions for citizen participation in democratic governance.

Spanning a half-century in New York City's school system (1945–95), Lewis interpreted the historical trajectory of multiple efforts to scale up educational reform by scaling down governance and bureaucracy. Her dissertation claimed that improvement was possible because educators and school board members in these decentralized districts were driven by a similar moral commitment to societal and school change as were the community control activists in the 1960s. Given the limitations of the school system's decentralized structure, a downturn in the local and national economy, and the continued resistance of the teachers' and principals' unions to community control, local district leaders' accomplishments in the '70s and '80s were significant. Lewis's dissertation posited that while the continuity of leadership and improvement in educational outcomes in these districts may not have been representative of the 32 community school districts created under decentralization, the districts' broader social and political contexts were not atypical. Rather than treating the two districts as idiosyncratic, her dissertation argued that other New York City community school districts with similar student populations and committed leadership could have followed a different course if there had been more effective support from the central school system, teachers' and principals' unions, elected officials and the public.

Selected Recent Publications

New York City’s Public Schools From Brownsville to Bloomberg: Community Control and its Legacy (Teachers College Press, 2013).

Future Teachers and Historical Habits of Mind: A Pedagogical Case Study. History of Education Quarterly, 56, no. 2 (February, 2016)

Assessment by Design: Scaling up by Thinking Small.” in Reframing Quality Assurance in Creative Disciplines (2015): 107-116.


Quinn Mulroy - Politics, Columbia University

Project: Private Litigation, Public Policy Enforcement: The Regulatory Power of Private Litigation and the American Bureaucracy

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Fellowship year: 2011

Mentor: Dan Carpenter, Harvard University

Quinn Mulroy is Assistant Professor in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University

Mulroy received a Ph.D. in American Politics from Columbia University where she worked with Ira Katznelson. She received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley in 2001.

She studies American politics, with a substantive focus on race and labor policy, the legal system, and regulatory agencies and a methodological interest in combining historical and quantitative approaches to research. Her current research project investigates the role of private power, particularly that supplied by private litigation, in the American regulatory state, and uses archival and statistical work to explore how and under what conditions regulatory agencies motivate private actors to engage in litigation that advances regulatory goals. Her work has appeared in Studies in American Political Development ("The Rise and Decline of Presidential Populism" (October 2004), co-authored with Terri Bimes, University of California-Berkeley), and she is a researcher with the American Institutions Project (under Ira Katznelson and John Lapinski) at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia. Her research interests include American political development, public policy, political institutions, the courts and litigation, bureaucracy, Congress, and race and labor policy.

Her dissertation examined the role of private power, particularly that supplied by private litigation, in the American regulatory state. While traditional accounts suggest that the progressive regulatory state that came into being over the course of the extended New Deal and Great Society periods is weak when compared to its counterparts abroad, Mulroy's research builds on a revisionist strain within the APD literature which identifies strategies by which a lean liberal state can achieve impressive regulatory results. Through a historical analysis of the development of the regulatory capacity of several agencies, she argued that constrained agencies may look outside themselves, and their formally granted administrative powers, for enforcement power by developing incentive structures that encourage private actors to engage in litigation that advances regulatory goals. She found that variation in the use of this alternate source of regulatory power by agencies can be explained by factors related to an agency's institutional development and formation, but also that the character, scope, and activation of this pathway of enforcement over time is contingent upon political and temporal considerations. By reconsidering how to integrate informal mechanisms of enforcement, like agency-motivated private litigation, into theories of bureaucratic regulation, her project aimed to contribute to our practical understanding of 'day-to-day' agency behavior and to our conceptions and assessments of state capacity, more broadly.

Selected Recent Publications

Was the South Pivotal? Situated Partisanship and Policy Coalitions during the New Deal and Fair Deal.” with Ira Katznelson, Journal of Politics 74, no. 2 (April 2012): 604-620.


Kimberly Phillips-Fein - History, Columbia University

Project: Top-Down Revolution: The Birth of Free Market Politics in America and the Backlash Against the New Deal

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Kimberly Phillips-Fein is Associate Professor of Economic Thought and History at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

As a historian of twentieth-century American politics, she teaches courses in American political, business, and labor history. Her first book, Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan, was published by W. W. Norton in 2009. She has contributed to essay collections published by Harvard University Press, University of Pennsylvania Press, and Routledge and to journals such as Reviews in American History and International Labor and Working-Class History. She is a contributing editor to Labor: Studies in Working-Class History in the Americas, where her work has also appeared. Professor Phillips-Fein has written widely for publications including The Nation, London Review of Books, New Labor Forum, to which she has contributed articles and reviews. She was given a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars, Artists and Writers at the New York Public Library for 2014-2015 for work on her forthcoming book, Fear City: The New York City Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of the Age of Austerity.

Selected Recent Publications

 “Why Workers Won’t UniteThe Atlantic, March 16, 2015.

Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (W.W. Norton & Company, 2009).


Kelly Kelleher Richter - History, Stanford University

Project: Uneasy Border State: The Politics and Public Policy of Latino Illegal Immigration in Metropolitan California

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Fellowship year: 2014

Mentor: Meg Jacobs, Princeton University

Kelly Kelleher Richter is a J.D. Candidate at Georgetown University Law Center, where she is a Public Interest Fellow.

Richter earned her Ph.D. in History from Stanford University in January 2015, with a specialization in modern U.S. political and policy history, immigration, social policy, and race & ethnicity. She has since worked as a Policy Fellow at the National Immigration Law Center in Washington D.C., engaging in policy research and advocacy focusing on executive actions for immigrant access to status and immigration law enforcement. She has also lectured at Stanford in Washington, teaching a course on U.S. Immigration Politics and Policy.
 Richter’s academic research centers on explaining the origins of modern American illegal immigration politics and policy. Her dissertation was the first academic work to comprehensively examine this topic through a focus on late-twentieth-century California, the state with the largest Latino undocumented immigrant population. Drawing on dozens of largely untapped archival collections of local, state, and federal officials, agencies, and legislative bodies, and advocates, as well as published government, legal, and media sources, her dissertation analyzed evolving debates over labor market impacts, social and fiscal policy, federal immigration policy implementation, local and state immigration policy, and immigration law enforcement. Richter’s project broke new ground for interdisciplinary understanding of modern American debates over immigration federalism and comprehensive immigration policy reform.
 

Selected Recent Publications

"Results from a Nationwide Survey of DACA Recipients Illustrate the Program's Impact" with Tom Wong, Ignacia Rodriguez, and Philip Wolgin. Center for American Progress, July 9, 2015.


Susan Schantz - History, Brandeis University

Project: Work, Citizenship, and Welfare: The Institutionalization of the Work Ethic in Work Relief Policies from the New Deal to the Present

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In her dissertation, Schantz investigated the success and failure of work relief programs and, more specifically, the relationship between the work ethic and the American ideal of democratic citizenship. She examined case studies of work relief programs from three periods of economic change: the New Deal, the Great Society, and the contemporary scene. Schantz was awarded numerous teaching assistantships at Brandeis University and is the co-author of Best Practices Manual: Massachusetts and National Community Service Commission (1996).


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