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Institute for History and Public Engagement Names Sheila Curran Bernard as First Fellow

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 24, 2016) -- The University at Albany's Institute for History and Public Engagement today announced that Sheila Curran Bernard has been selected as its inaugural Community Fellow for the 2016-17 academic year.

Bernard, an associate professor in the Department of History and the incoming director of the Public History Program, joined the UAlbany faculty in 2008. She is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, writer, and consultant whose credits include projects for national broadcast, theatrical release, and museum and web presentation.

Bernard's project for the Institute for History and Public Engagement is entitled “Huddie Ledbetter: In Context.” For the project she will focus on the work of African-American folk and blues musician Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly, in the context of the post-Reconstruction South, and explore his short-lived but critical collaboration with Library of Congress music collector John A. Lomax, including a 1935 performance tour in Upstate New York.
Sheila Curran Bernard photo
Sheila Curran Bernard is the inaugural Community Fellow of the Institute for History and Public Engagement. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

Research from the project will be published and presented as an interactive website, in traditional print articles and papers, and as a stage performance with music. The project's goal is to engage the public on a variety of levels, including bringing regional artists and institutions together to explore Lead Belly’s legacy, providing linkages to social justice and civil rights movements, and involving the community through public forums and performances.

The Institute for History and Public Engagement will also help to integrate this research and outreach into classes and other educational opportunities both on the University at Albany campus and in the greater Capital District.

About the Institute for History and Public Engagement

The University at Albany’s Institute for History and Public Engagement was founded in 2015 with the support of Provost James R. Stellar, and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Edelgard Wulfert as a method of implementing President Robert J. Jones’ articulation of the vision for an engaged University. The goal of the Institute is to serve as a liaison between faculty and students of the University at Albany in history, in particular, and the humanities and social sciences, in general, as well as the public at large to bring University expertise to address community needs. The Community Fellows Program, inaugurated in 2016-17, is open to any UAlbany faculty member in the humanities, broadly defined.

The Institute’s founding director is UAlbany Professor of History John F. Schwaller. For more information, contact him at jschwaller@albany.edu.

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