Tim Shenk: 2006 Gilder Lehrman History Scholar profiled in newspaper

Historians in the News

One was a 19th century slave, the other a 21st century college student.
An abolitionist and a scholar of history, whose destinies, though so very different from one another, brought them to the same place. And now the path of the student and that of the slave have met in New York City.

Tim Shenk, of Annapolis, went to New York by way of Columbia University. A 2003 graduate of the Severn School, Mr. Shenk is a history major entering his junior year at Columbia.

Frederick Douglass, of Maryland's Eastern Shore and later Baltimore went to New York by way the Underground Railroad in his escape from slavery.

This summer Mr. Shenk has been completely immersed in the life and times of Frederick Douglass.

Mr. Shenk is one of 15 students, chosen from more than 300 applicants, to participate in a six-week history scholar program at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York City.

"These are the brightest young historians in America," said Professor James G. Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute, which sponsors the program and promotes the study of American history. "We see them as a kind of Rhodes Scholar among history majors."

Given that a program which focuses on research, tours of archives, and seminars conducted by eminent historians may not appeal to the average college student on summer break, it's a sign that nothing about Mr. Shenk is average.

"I was somewhere in the top 10 percent of my class," said Mr. Shenk, who had a 4.0 grade point average at Severn.

Back to his summer fun, Mr. Shenk, along with the other Gilder Lehrman History Scholars will be compiling a Frederick Douglass reader, containing reproductions and transcriptions of original documents, along with historical introductions. Primary use will befor teachers and students.

Each of the students involved in the program, all juniors and seniors, are responsible for one chapter.

"My chapter will focus on Frederick Douglass' time abroad in the U.K. and the way it affected his impression of racism and freedom in America," Mr. Shenk said....

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