Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Historian Jill Ogline Appointed Associate Director of C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience

Chestertown, MD, June 12, 2007 — Washington College is pleased to announce that Jill Ogline has been appointed Associate Director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.

Established in 2000 with a grant from the New York-based Starr Foundation, the C.V. Starr Center draws on the special historical strengths of Washington College and colonial Chestertown to explore the early republic, the rise of democracy, and the manifold ways in which the founding era continues to shape American culture, through innovative educational programs, scholarship and public outreach.

Ogline, who received her Ph.D. in History this spring from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, served as coordinator of the University of Massachusetts History Institute, a program that trains K-12 teachers in creative approaches to history education.

She also has worked extensively for the National Park Service at Independence National Historical Park and Gettysburg National Military Park, as well as contributing significantly to the National Park Service's Civic Engagement Initiative, an effort to make the parks' interpretation of history more responsive to the interests and concerns of a diverse public.

Ogline helped create the National Historic Landmarks Program's Sites of Conscience Project, which encourages stewards of historic properties to make their sites centers of civic dialogue. She has served as a historical interpreter at Independence Hall and as project coordinator at the Walden Woods Project, where she assisted in the creation of an interdisciplinary "Thoreau and Conscience" program.

Ogline's scholarly work has covered a broad span of American history. Her dissertation examines the contentious battle over school integration in Prince Edward County, Va., in the 1950s and 1960s, incorporating documentary evidence, oral history and a look at continuing repercussions in the community. Ogline also has published eloquent articles on topics of early American history, such as a powerful essay for The Public Historian on the discovery of George Washington's slave quarters (used during his presidency) under the site of the Liberty Bell pavilion in Philadelphia.

Ogline graduated summa cum laude in History from Taylor University in 2001, and spent an undergraduate semester studying history at Keble College, Oxford University.

"After she visited Chestertown this spring and met with students, faculty, and staff, it became clear that Jill Ogline was the standout in an outstanding group of more than 60 applicants nationwide for this newly created position," said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center. "She is a brilliant historian who, rather than choosing to follow a traditional professorial career, wishes to engage broader audiences through public-history programs and writing. Jill has a quiet but strong conviction that history matters because it can teach us to be better people and better citizens, with a more generous and nuanced understanding of ourselves and of one another."

Ogline will play a key role in some new Starr Center initiatives, including a merit scholarship program for high school students interested in history, and an expanded program of writing fellowships, which will bring nationally distinguished historians to Chestertown for yearlong residencies, during which they will write, lecture and teach at the College. Next month, she will help to lead the special Starr Center travel program "A Chesapeake Journey: From Slavery to Freedom," which will take a group of Washington College students and Maryland teachers on a trip around the Chesapeake Bay and through more than two centuries of American history, addressing the roots of slavery and its lasting impact on our society.

"The Starr Center's commitment to bringing history to life for Washington College students and the greater public excites me to no end," said Ogline. "When we understand the past as a living presence in our own time—a force subtly yet profoundly shaping the present—we are better equipped to engage responsibly with the world around us."

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