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Partnership connects George III's archives with George Washington's Library

Posted on 11/07/2016

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A new academic partnership between King’s and George Washington’s Mount Vernon, will allow scholars on both sides of the Atlantic to tap into each institution’s rich historic resources and uncover more secrets of the George III era. The collaboration with the Fred W. Smith National Study for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, the home of the Washington Library, will see a scholarly exchange established with King’s to support the Georgian Papers Programme.

The Georgian Papers Programme, a partnership of the Royal Library and Royal Archives and King’s, is a five-year project to build an open online collection of nearly 350,000 digitised items from the Royal Archives spanning the long eighteenth century and containing the papers of the Georgian Monarchs.  Nearly 85% of the items in the archive, which includes correspondence, maps, and royal household ledgers and is based at Windsor Castle, have never been examined by scholars.

Mount Vernon is the first independent library in the world to partner with King’s on this project. The principal American academic partner for the Programme is William and Mary College and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Both the Library at Mount Vernon and the Archives at Windsor boast rich collections of documents, letters, and manuscripts that shed light on the period in which Washington’s life intersected with the life of King George III, who ruled Britain at the time of the American Revolution.

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‘The Washington Library is honoured to partner with King’s College London to help understand this vast and rich royal archive,’ said Dr. Doug Bradburn, founding director of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon.  ‘To have access to such an important new resource to understand the story of our founding is really exciting--I can’t wait to see what these scholars will find.’

The Georgian Papers Programme is designed to cultivate fresh insights into this defining period in British and American history. As scholars work to digitise and analyse the records held in the Royal Archives, they will uncover new information about the history of North America and the transatlantic worlds of politics, trade, science, and religion.

Dr Joanna Newman, MBE, Vice Principal (International), King’s College London said: 'As the Georgian Papers Programme develops, so the opportunities for scholarship and new collaborations based on this unique material grow. This agreement between King’s College London and Mount Vernon is an important addition to the Programme, and one which will span scholarly interests in the history, culture, economy and politics of early American history and world politics of the time.’

‘We are delighted that the collaboration between the Royal Archives and King’s college London is opening the door to a new and exciting Anglo-American partnership for the benefit of scholars around the world for a period central to our shared history,’ Oliver Urquhart Irvine, Royal Librarian, commented.

To support the important work of bringing these stories to life, starting in 2016, a scholar representing the Washington Library will be named to take up a three-month fellowship (in-residence for one month at Mount Vernon and two months in London/Windsor). Reciprocally, a scholar from King’s will be chosen annually for a fellowship (spending one month in London/Windsor and two months at Mount Vernon). Bruce Ragsdale, a member of the Washington Library’s inaugural class of research fellows, is the first recipient of this honour.

Joseph W. Dooley, President General of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) from 2013-14, said that the SAR was an early proponent of the King's College London Georgian Papers Programme. "The SAR is proud to be sponsoring visiting professorships at King's for American academics to study the papers first hand and work closely with King's professors and the Royal Archives," said Dooley.  The first Sons of the American Revolution Visiting Professor at King's will be Professor Andrew O'Shaughnessy, Professor of History at the University of Virginia. O'Shaughnessy is a prolific author on topics related to the Revolutionary era and serves as vice-president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello. 

This fellowship has been made possible through the generous sponsorship of The Amanda and Greg Gregory Family Fund.  Greg and Amanda Gregory, of Atlanta, Georgia, are longtime Mount Vernon supporters.

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