Public Scholar Program: A Biography of John Dickinson (1732-1808)

  • Calvert, Jane (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Much of the preliminary work of the project is done. During my work on the John Dickinson Writings Project (JDP), I created a detailed chronology of his life with primary source quotations, conducted intensive research on materials, and published scholarly articles on several aspects of his life. I have also thought extensively about the framing, voice, incorporation of primary sources, how to deal with gaps in information, and other problems of biographical writing. To date, I have written the prologue and begun the first chapter. Also in preparation for this work, I created an upper-division course called “US Founders,” in which we spend two weeks on each major figure—Washington, Franklin, JD, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison. For each (except JD), we read a popular biography written by an historian. We explore not only the lives of the subjects, but also the technique of the biographers. For JD, I assign my work—the parts of the biography along with the chronology of his life, supplemented with primary material and a few of my essays—and solicit feedback. By these methods, I have gained a better sense of what works for the general reader and what does not and seen students’ excitement at learning about JD I hope to have two full years (2019–2021) to devote to this project. Because JD’s activities are relatively well-known during the Revolutionary era, those chapters will likely be easiest, while the years before and after will require more work to research and frame, because little or nothing his been written on them by me or others. To help me to focus on the project, Governor John Carney of Delaware has apportioned $300,000 of state funds to release me from my duties as Chief Editor of the JDP and some of my teaching duties at the University of Kentucky. I am seeking NEH support for 12 months of full-time work from September 1, 2019 to September 1, 2020. My goal is to have a publishing contract before the end of 2019 and a rough draft of the entire manuscript by the end of the grant period. I will use the following year for soliciting feedback, filling gaps in the narrative, checking sources and citations, and polishing the prose.
Effective start/end date9/1/208/31/21


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.