History professor will examine the private papers of British monarchs at Windsor Castle’s Royal Archives

Brooke Newman has received a fellowship to research the original documents of rulers during the Georgian era, including King George III.

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A Virginia Commonwealth University professor has received a fellowship to conduct research at the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle as part of a project to digitize, disseminate and analyze a trove of original private papers in the British royal collection.

Brooke N. Newman, Ph.D.
Brooke N. Newman, Ph.D.

Brooke N. Newman, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of History in the College of Humanities and Sciences, has received the Georgian Papers Programme Fellowship, which provides opportunities each year for scholars to conduct research on a collection of historic manuscripts from the Georgian period. Totaling more than 350,000 pages, the manuscripts include documents of King George III, as well as papers of Kings George I, George II, George IV and William IV, including rarely-seen royal letters, diaries, maps and prints.

The Georgian Papers Programme was launched in 2015 and is a collaboration between King's College London and the Royal Collection Trust in the United Kingdom, in partnership with the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the College of William & Mary. The goal is to create an online resource to present and analyze the documents, which will allow researchers to gain a deeper understanding of a key period in British and world history.

“I am thrilled to have received a Georgian Papers Programme Fellowship for research at the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle,” Newman said. “This is a highly competitive fellowship and will enable me to make significant progress on my next book project as well as to contribute to the Georgian Papers Programme.”

Newman is currently working on a book, “Subjects of the Crown: Slavery, Emancipation, and the British Monarchy, 1760-1840,” which will explore how the Georgian monarchs responded to and helped shape public debates on the slave trade, slavery and emancipation from 1760 to 1840. The transformative era encompassed the reigns of George III, George IV, William IV, and Queen Victoria.

“The goal of ‘Subjects of the Crown’ is to trace not only evolving royal views on African slavery and freedom but also the symbolic transformation of the Crown between 1760 and 1840, as Britain transitioned from a major slave-trading, slave-owning nation to an imperial power committed to free labor and the extension of equal rights to subjects of diverse cultural backgrounds, bloodlines, and religious faiths,” Newman said.

Newman’s fellowship will begin at the end of the fall semester. At VCU this fall, she will teach a film course for the History Department, HIST 389: "History in Film: The British Monarchy," which will cover the reigns of the Tudor, Stuart, Hanoverian and Windsor monarchs.

“In conjunction with primary and secondary readings, the course uses the lens of film to explore the changing role of the British monarchy from the Tudor era to the present,” she said. “We will be watching and discussing films including ‘Anne of the Thousand Days’ (1969); ‘The Madness of King George’ (1994); ‘The King’s Speech’ (2010); ‘The Queen’ (2006); and select episodes from the recent Netflix series ‘The Crown’ (2016). I am excited to share my knowledge of the British monarchy with VCU undergraduate students and to help them contextualize and analyze cinematic depictions of monarchs, both past and present.”


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