Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
Leading Early American Scholarship
|Chairman||Barbara Oberg, Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Princeton University (Executive Board)
Peter Mancall, University of Southern California (Council)
|Location||Earl Gregg Swem Library|
|Address||400 Landrum Drive
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185
The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture (OI) is the oldest organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to advancing the study, research, and publication of scholarship bearing on the history and culture of early America, broadly construed, from circa 1450 to 1820. Their scope of inquiry includes North America and related histories of the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Africa. Since 1943 the Institute has published The William and Mary Quarterly and books, and sponsored conferences and fellowships.
The College of William & Mary and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation founded the Institute of Early American History and Culture in 1943. The College continues to jointly sponsor its work. In 1996, the name Omohundro was added to the Institute’s name in recognition of a generous gift from the late Mr. and Mrs. Malvern H. Omohundro, Jr.
- 1 Publications
- 2 Fellowships
- 3 Conferences and colloquia
- 4 External links
The Institute typically publishes four or five books each year. Since the publishing program began in 1946, the OI has published 224 books which have won a total of 164 prizes.
The University of North Carolina Press publishes and distributes the OI's books.
William and Mary Quarterly
The William and Mary Quarterly is an academic journal with a focus on early American history and culture. It ranges chronologically from Old World-New World contacts to about 1820. Geographically, it focuses on North America from New France and the Spanish-American borderlands to British America and the Caribbean and extends to Europe and West Africa. Although grounded in history, it welcomes works from all disciplines (for example, literature, law, political science, anthropology, archaeology, material culture, cultural studies) bearing on the early American period. Currently in its Third Series, the Quarterly is published in January, April, July, and October. The journal originated in 1892, making it one of the oldest scholarly journals in the United States.
In addition to a regular blog (Uncommon Sense), the OI maintains both an online feed of blogs about early American scholarship and (Early America Online aka "The Octo"), an up to date listing of conferences and events of interest to the Early Americanist community (The Map) and a current listing of fellowships and grants available for research in the field (The List).
The OI also publishes the OI Reader, which features a digital edition of the William and Mary Quarterly as well as additional digital projects.
Available through the Apple app store, the OI Reader offers a distinctive platform for integrating digital content, such as high resolution images that enlarge, audio, and other interactive features. It also includes Open WMQ, a feature which gives readers free access to a selection of new and classic WMQ essays, as well as all new issues of the journal beginning with July 2014.
Developed and published in Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite (DPS), and with critical support from Adobe Systems Incorporated, this first iteration of the OI Reader includes a note-taking function along with digital content. Updates will incorporate new and innovative user features.
All OI fellowship applicants are evaluated by outside committees of scholars who volunteer their time and expertise. Full application information can be found on the OI website.
Omohundro Institute-NEH Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
With the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the OI offers a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in any area of early American studies. The fellowship is awarded annually. A principal criterion for selection is that the candidate’s dissertation or other manuscript have significant potential as a distinguished, book-length contribution to scholarship. Applicants may not have previously published or have under contract a scholarly monograph, and they must have met all requirements for the doctorate, including a successful defense, before commencing the fellowship. Foreign nationals are eligible. Those who have earned the Ph.D. and begun careers are also encouraged to apply. Fellows are awarded $50,400 annually.
Each July, up to six untenured scholars gather for two weeks to work both as a group and individually with Institute editors and staff on either a manuscript chapter or a journal article in progress. The weeks include seminar-style meetings on conceptual development, manuscript editing, and source verification as well as time for writing, revising, and consulting. Scholars selected for the Workshop are awarded $2,000 for the two weeks and are offered the option of continuing their stay for up to an additional two weeks, each of which carries an additional award of $1,000.
Georgian Papers Programme Fellowship
The Georgian Papers Programme, a partnership of the Royal Collection Trust and King’s College London, is a five-year project that by 2020 will create an open online archive and library of approximately 350,000 digitized items, 85 percent of them unknown to scholars, from the Georgian monarchs. The extraordinarily rich and varied collections of this important period in British, American and Atlantic history include papers of the Royal Household and are concentrated in the period of George III’s reign. The Omohundro Institute and the College of William & Mary are the primary U.S. partners of the Georgian Papers Programme.
The OI’s month-long Georgian Papers Programme fellowships support research on transatlantic and early American topics for up to eight scholars each year. Fellows explore the collections for their own research while offering advice to the team of archivists and librarians working on archival organization and cataloguing. Fellows also have the opportunity for collegial exchange with relevant departments and faculty at King’s. The fellowship offers a $2,500 stipend with up to $1,500 in additional support for travel.
Fellowships are restricted to U.S. or U.K. citizens. Successful applicants will be required to undergo a security clearance before beginning work at Windsor Castle.
Jamestown Rediscovery-Omohundro Institute Short-term Fellowship
The Omohundro Institute and the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation jointly sponsor a Short-Term Visiting Fellowship for scholars at either the predoctoral or postdoctoral level. The fellowships are awarded for either one or two month periods. Scholars with strong interests in colonial history, historical archaeology, Atlantic history, Native American history, African American studies, early Jamestown, the Chesapeake, and material culture, 1500–1720, are encouraged to apply. Fellows will make use of the College of William & Mary’s Swem Library and collections at Historic Jamestowne as well as other resources in the Historic Triangle and Richmond region. The fellowship also provides the opportunity to experience the Omohundro Institute’s editorial expertise and intellectual community of early Americanists. The fellowships carry a stipend of $2,500 per month.
These predoctoral fellowships award up to four advanced graduate students $500 each to support research related to Early American and transatlantic print culture, including authorship, production, circulation, and reception.
Conferences and colloquia
Most OI events are open to the public; costs to the participant vary.
The OI offers an annual conference in June each year. The location varies each year in order to accommodate a wide range of scholars. Panels and papers are chosen by an external committee. The committee typically represents a large variety of institutions and disciplines and is formed by members from the host institution. Graduate students, junior, mid-career and senior scholars are all invited to submit proposals via a Call for Papers; all levels of career achievement are likewise represented on the final program.
The OI also typically offers one topically-themed conference each year, usually in the fall. The location varies. An organizing theme or topic is proposed by a group of scholars who then form a program committee and issue a Call for Papers. The number of papers and panels offered is typically smaller than at the annual conference, likewise the overall number of participants.
THis Camp (or That History Camp) sessions are now offered at every OI conference. The goal of the sessions is to teach participants one software of particular use to historians at a Beginner's level.
Max Edelson, University of Virginia, taught the first THis Camp in October 2015 at the "Emerging Histories of the Early Modern French Atlantic" (topical) conference. By the end of the session, participants were able to use the popular Map Scholar software to annotate maps and begin their own digital atlases.
Each May, the William and Mary Quarterly in conjunction with the Early Modern Studies Institute at the University of Southern California conducts a workshop designed to identify and encourage new trends in our understanding of the history and culture of early North America. The participants are primarily mature scholars working on second or subsequent book projects; they share their work in progress with the aim of deepening and enriching their perspectives, their approaches, and ultimately the final products of their research.
The OI’s colloquium meets four or five times a semester to discuss projects (usually a book chapter) in progress. The Institute offers overnight accommodations and up to $300 for travel for those chosen to present their work.