The Jefferson Scholars Foundation has established a new center of interdisciplinary research and study designed to facilitate and highlight scholarship on the era of Thomas Jefferson.

Under the direction of Christa Dierksheide, the Brockman Foundation Jefferson Scholars Foundation Professor, the center promotes scholarship about American society and culture, as well as U.S. transatlantic connections, from 1743 to 1826. Bringing together faculty and students at the University and beyond to facilitate new examination of and scholarship across a range of disciplines, includuing music, literature, philosophy, political science, and history. 

Christa Dierksheide

Brockman Foundation Jefferson Scholars Foundation Professor and Age of Jefferson Director

Professor Dierksheide’s work and teaching focus on Early America with an emphasis on empire, race, and slavery. Her first book, Amelioration and Empire: Progress and Slavery in the Plantation Americas, brought the Anglophone Caribbean and the U.S. South into the same frame, arguing that “improvement” lay at the core of both proslavery and antislavery thinking. She followed that work with several essays and chapters on Jefferson, race, and slavery. Currently she is completing a global history of Jefferson’s grandchildren. Following several members of the Randolph and Hemings families, she constructs nuanced portraits of important events and issues that shaped 19th-century America: the internal slave trade, western expansion and land speculation, Anglo-American empire-building in the Atlantic and Pacific worlds, and unfreedom and racism in the antebellum North.

Age of Jefferson Fellowships

The center provides cutting-edge graduate and post-doctoral training and support through practical, hands-on experience in classroom teaching, currciculum development, digital and public history, and publishing. 

Postdoctoral Fellowship

Alyssa Penick 
Dartmouth College (B.A.)
University of Michigan (M.A.) (Ph.D.)

Penick’s work draws upon legal history, the history of slavery, and material culture in an innovative retelling of Church and State during the American Founding era.  Her work has been supported by the University of Michigan, the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, the Doris G. Quinn Foundation, the International Center for Jefferson Studies, and the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

About theFellowship: The holder of the postdoctoral fellowship will revise their dissertation into a book manuscript (to be published by UVA Press), teach one seminar in the history department, and assist the Center’s director.

Teaching Fellowship

Emily Sackett

St. Olaf College (B.A.)
University of Virginia (M.A.)

Sackett is a Ph.D. candidate in the Corcoran Department of History at U.Va. Her dissertation, “Women Wanted: Gender, Race, and the Origins of American Plantation Societies, 1607-1720,” examines the role of white women in the creation of distinct plantation societies in seventeenth-century Virginia, Barbados, and Carolina.

About the Fellowship: This teaching fellowship is the result of a new partnership between Monticello and the Foundation. The holder will coordinate the Early American Seminar at Monticello, teach a course in the history department at U.Va., and complete their dissertation.

Dissertation Fellow

Jennifer Levin
University of Texas-Austin (B.A.)
University of Virginia (M.A.)

Levin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Corcoran Department of History at U.Va., studying empire and material culture in the colonial Gulf South region. Her dissertation uses the material record to position the French settlement of Mobile at the confluence of intercolonial and intertribal relations in the larger Atlantic World.  

About the Fellowship: The holder of the dissertation fellowship will spend three days per week researching and writing the dissertation and two days per week gaining public history experience in a research department at Monticello.

Recruitment Fellowship

Bethany McGlyn
Temple University (B.A.)
University of Delaware (M.A.)

A first-generation college student, McGlyn recently completed an award-winning master’s thesis at the University of Delaware and currently serves as a curator at the Winterthur Museum. Her interests center on enslaved artisans and material culture in early national Philadelphia.

About the Fellowship: The recruitment fellowship is designed to attract top Ph.D. applicants to U.Va.’s History Ph.D. program and compete with other top programs across the country.

Programs & Events

View of West Front of Monticello and Garden, Jane Braddick Peticolas, 1825

Listen to Christa Dierksheide discuss Jefferson’s views on generational independence. In this 15-minute talk, Professor Dierksheide addresses Jefferson’s belief that the living generation should have both the right and the responsibility to review and rewrite its own laws and constitution.



The Foundation supports world-class graduate students through Jefferson Fellowships and National Fellowships.

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Distinguished Professorships

Learn more about the Foundation’s Professorship Program.

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The Jefferson Scholarship and the Walentas Scholarship are the premier undergraduate scholarships at the University of Virginia.

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