By Cassandra Sottile
Elm Staff Writer
History is in good hands at Washington College. Director of the C. V. Starr Center, Adam Goodheart, was elected to the Society of American Historians earlier this year.
Along with the annual dinner and the various programs that come with this prestigious election, Goodheart is now eligible to possibly receive one of the myriad of literary prizes, like the Francis Parkman, Allan Nevins, and the Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. awards, given out by the society.
The now 400 strong society elected Goodheart along with 18 other inductees, this year. Among the other inductees were two of Goodheart’s inspirations: Marcus Rediker, scholar of maritime and labor history and the 2008 winner of the George Washington Book Prize, and essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wrote “The Case for Reparations” and most recently, “Between the World and Me.”
Of his election, Goodheart said, “It was really awe-inspiring to look at the list of members and see the names of some of my college professors, as well as authors whose books I’ve been reading since I was in high school.”
Goodheart has been serving as the director of the C.V. Starr Center since 2006. Located in the Custom House in historic downtown Chestertown, it provides opportunities for students to fully embrace the American experience
for its history and culture. Students are able to collaborate on research projects, both locally and beyond, and work with the visiting fellowship writers.
Through his position at the Starr Center, Goodheart has been very active in getting students involved in history. Under his leadership, the Center recently launched a new program called Quill and Compass, designed to provide students with opportunities unavailable elsewhere. From road trips, to internships, to dinner conversations with visiting historians, Quill and Compass gives students an exclusive window into the history that can be found not only in Chestertown, but all over the United States.
When considering the idea of Quill and Compass, Goodheart said, “We wanted to make it open to all students, no application required. Anyone who wants to join is able to and welcome.”
In addition to the Quill and Compass program, a new research project that has partnered with the Smithsonian Institute, will open in the spring of 2017 called Museum on Main Street, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institute.
Goodheart has been heavily involved in history outside the Starr Center, but he said it is hard to pick one moment that embodies his passion. “Growing up in Philadelphia gave me a lot of opportunities to visit historical sites there and those are some of my earliest memories. During the Bicentennial in 1976, I was probably the only six-year-old begging my parents to go to the Jacob Graff House where Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. That’s probably what started it,” he said.
Now, Goodheart is a distinguished lecturer at the Organization of American History; has lectured at prime locations like the Smithsonian, National Archives, and Library of Congress; has served as deputy editor of the Op-Ed page for The New York Times; and has authored the national bestselling and book of the year winner “1861: The Civil War Awakening,” which received widespread acclaim.
Part of the book is centered on the first African-American slaves who freed themselves during the Civil War by stumbling upon Fort Monroe, which was full of Union troops; in fact, “1861” helped to secure national park status for the base in Virginia. Prior to the release of the book, Fort Monroe was decommissioned as a U.S. military base. Four months after publication, Goodheart received an invitation to the White House to witness President Barack Obama signing the executive order elevating Fort Monroe to national park status.
Goodheart has also written numerous articles that have appeared in major publications such as The New York Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and The American Scholar.