Julia Chaffers ’22 is one of 41 recipients of the 2022 Marshall Scholarship, which will enable her to pursue two years of graduate study in the UK. She was selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 applicants from colleges and universities across the country.
The Marshall Fellowship gives “intellectually distinguished young Americans the opportunity to develop their capacities as future leaders by studying at a British university of the recipient’s choice,” according to the university’s press release. The annual scholarship was first awarded in 1953 and has an alumni network of approximately 2,000 alumni.
Chaffers is originally from Wellesley, Mass., And is focusing in history with a certificate in African American Studies. She is Senior Columnist for The Daily Princetonian, President of the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, and Co-Chair of the Class Day 2022 Committee. She was previously a communications assistant for the Department of African American Studies and interned for the Century Foundation in the summer of 2021.
Chaffers will be spending her first year in the UK at University College London, where she will enroll in a Masters program in US History and Politics. She will then study British History with an emphasis on Public History at the University of Manchester in her second year.
âFor me, the story is not just about what happened in the past, but also how we understand these facts and how we use them to inform our present,â Chaffers said in an interview with the âPrinceâ . âIf we can look back and understand what really happened and what was excluded over time, then that can help us build more just societies.
Chaffers has devoted many of his academic activities to uncovering missing stories from the past. One of his junior articles focused on how the Haitian revolution informed black American politics in the 19th century. She wrote her second post about a high school in Walpole, Massachusetts that had a history of Confederate imagery and used a Rebels mascot until 2020.
âThese projectsâ¦ were really about collective memory, and how we remember the past and how we keep these stories alive, and who is included and excluded from the mainstream narratives, and what are the more inclusive and precise counter-narratives,â said she declared. noted.
His examination of Confederate monuments showed him the importance of studying public history, Chaffers explained.
âWhat we see in particular with the Confederate monuments is [how] the past can be used to divide, exclude, and legitimize real structures of oppression, such as using lost cause mythologies about the South and Confederacy misunderstandings to legitimize Jim Crow segregation, for example. That’s why it’s important to know what history we are teaching and what history we are learning, âshe said.
Chaffer’s main thesis and future studies build on these ideas: she explained that the UK has its own ongoing conversations about ‘monuments, statues and stories’, which inspired her in her decision to pursue graduate scholarships.
In the university’s press release, associate professor of history and African American studies Joshua Guild said Chaffers had “all the makings of a gifted historian.”
âJulia is distinguished by her determination, integrity and commitment to engaging in difficult stories and equal measures of care and critical authority,â Guild said in his letter of recommendation for Chaffers. âWith her experiences as a student columnist and debate writer, Julia Chaffers is already well versed in public intellectual engagement. She is a talented writer and insightful thinker whose commitment to questioning our common historical legacies makes her the kind of [21st] leader of the century that we desperately need.
Chaffers’ extracurricular activities also showed him the importance of history and its intersections. She explored the issue of collective memory firsthand in her columns for The “Prince” which discussed the legacy of Woodrow Wilson. As a former director of programming and now president of Whig-Clio, Chaffers focused the organization’s lecture series on how politics can affect other professions, such as sports and journalism. She told the ‘Prince’ that her work with Whig-Clio had caused her to reflect on ‘questions of how history intersects with our current politics’, but also how politics’ intersects with other spheres of our lives “.
Chaffers is also working with First College on a Wintersession project to create an exhibit on the Upward Bound program, a residential summer program for high school students in New Jersey in the 1960s that included black students at a time when there was very little. of black students at university.
âJulia is an absolutely brilliant student, and without a doubt one of the best and most insightful thinkers and writers on campus,â wrote AnneMarie Luijendijk, professor of religion and principal of First College, in the press release.
After graduation, Chaffers hopes to become a historian who focuses on writing for a public audience. She said that authors she read in high school, like Ta-Nehisi Coates, inspired her to devote her academic and professional activities to history because they present historical research in an accessible way.
âBeing a university historian will give me the space to browse through archives and documents and write down the things I want to write, but also present them in a way that is accessible to people, whether they are historians themselves. or students or just people who want to know more about our company, âsaid Chaffers.
Naomi Hess is an associate editor who focuses on university politics and alumni affairs. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @ NaomiHess17.