Program Director
Jenn Dorsey 518-782-6947      

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Workshop Team

Workshop Faculty

I am Dr. Jennifer Dorsey, the Project Director of Heaven on Earth: Shakers, Religious Revival and Social Reform in America. Presently, I am writing a biography of a New York tenant farmer named George Holcomb (1791-1856), who like many other farmers, bought products from and sold produce to the Shaker communities. He was also a frequent visitor to their public worship meetings. This current work has drawn me into the world of the Shakers and given me a special interest in how the outside world engaged with the economy of the Shakers. 

My leadership of the workshop will draw on a decade of experience as a scholar and educator. I am a specialist in the history of labor and political economy in the early American Republic and the author of Hirelings: African American Workers and Free Labor in Early Maryland (Cornell University Press 2011). At Siena College, I teach courses in colonial and revolutionary America, New York State history, and historical interpretation. I am also the director of Siena College’s McCormick Center for the Study of the American Revolution. The mission of the McCormick Center is to foster cooperation between historic sites and educational institutions to promote history education in upstate New York. My work as the director reflects my deep commitment to innovative and community engaged teaching. Finally, I am a veteran of NEH education programs. In 2005 I participated in the NEH Summer Seminar “Roots: African Dimensions of the History and Culture of the Americas.” The seminar afforded me an exceptional opportunity to rethink my research and teaching in an interdisciplinary environment and to network with respected scholars.

I am Dr. Carol Medlicott, one of the visiting scholars.  In 2003, I completed my Ph.D. in Geography at UCLA. Currently, I am an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Geography at Northern Kentucky University where I primarily teach geography courses. After a post-doctoral fellowship at Dartmouth College from 2004-2005, I have been concentrating on the Shakers. Primarily, my work considers early 19th century Shakerism, through approximately 1850. This experience proved to be my pathway into Shaker studies. Currently, my principal interests are the Shaker West, the expansion period of Shakerism, and the evolution of Shaker music, and I have published many book chapters and peer-reviewed articles on these subjects.  I recently completed two major books on figures who have been largely associated with Shaker music and with the Shaker West: Issachar Bates, the early Shaker missionary and hymn writer, and Richard McNemar, a poet/musician and Ohio Shaker leader. The books are Issachar Bates: A Shaker's Journey and Richard McNemar, Music, and the Western Shaker Communities (co-authored iwth Christian Goodwillie). I am active in several Shaker heritage organizations, such as the Friends of White Water Shaker Village near Cincinnati. In addition to my scholarly study of Shaker history and Shaker music, I also transcribe, sing, and perform Shaker music for pure enjoyment, and I regularly look for audiences with whom to share it.

Visiting scholar Dr. Glendyne Wergland earned her Ph.D. from University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2001 and has since published four books on the history of the Shakers in the nineteenth century, including One Shaker life: Isaac Newton Youngs, 1793-1865 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2006) which received the Communal Studies Association Outstanding Publication Award for 2006. Dr. Wergland’s research has been published in Communal Societies, Utopian Studies and other peer reviewed journals and she has held teaching positions at Smith College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and most recently, Mount Holyoke College.

Mrs. Deborah Escobar will be available to mentor and advise NEH Summer Scholars as they experiment with how to apply their fresh insights and new knowledge. Mrs. Escobar has coordinated the Gifted and Talented program at Farnsworth Middle School since 1991 and has created curriculum and taught courses in history, mythology, law, geography, philosophy and debate. She has led teacher workshops and been an active participant in National History Day programming. She has published several workbooks and articles on teaching with documents as well as resources for students who want to research and produce history documentaries.


Administrative Team

Jillian AltenburgMs. Jillian Altenburg is our Program Assistant. Her interest in the Shakers was piqued while interning at the Watervliet Shaker Heritage Site in 2010. She has a BA in History in Urban Studies from State University of New York at Albany. She is also currently the Assistant Director of the Albany County Historical Association headquartered at the Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany. Jillian plans to pursue MA in History and Information Science in the fall of 2013.



Our administrative team also includes two enthusiastic undergraduates: 

RachelMs. Rachel Bournique is a rising Junior, an American Studies major, and a student of Siena College's McCormick Center for the Study of the American Revolution. As a Siena Summer Service Scholar she will be working alongside Dr. Dorsey, Jillian and the faculty of Heaven on Earth to deliver an amazing program. Her job is to be a resource for the NEH Summer Scholars during the workshop.

At Siena, Rachel is pursuing her passion (obsession?) for early American history. In the fall of 2013, she will “study abroad” at the College of William & Mary, where she expects to immerse myself in all things colonial America. It is a program that she has planned to participate in since she was a high school senior in East Granby, Connecticut. 

FrancisMr. Francis Butler is a junior, a History major, and a student of Siena College’s McCormick Center for the Study of the American Revolution. He has been administrative team since 2012 when Dr. Dorsey first approached him about working on the NEH Landmark Grant applcation. At Siena he is actively involved in the History Club, the Urban Scholars Mentor program, and the Chaplain’s Office.

Francis's ambition is to follow his passion for History into a career as a grant writer or historical interpreter. Next fall he will spend a semester immersed in the study of the American Civil War at Gettysburg College. He expects to work as an interpreter at either Gettysburg or Antietam National Battlefield.