MOUNT VERNON, VA—The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association today tapped a noted American history scholar, Dr. Douglas Bradburn, to serve as the founding director of The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. Opening September 27, the Library is the latest initiative for the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which owns and operates George Washington’s historic estate. As founding director of the Library, Bradburn will oversee Mount Vernon’s efforts to safeguard original Washington books and manuscripts and to foster new scholarly research about George Washington and the Founding Era. He will also guide the development of leadership training programs and educational outreach
“With the opening of the Library, Mount Vernon is poised to become the pre-eminent center for scholarship about George Washington and for educational outreach about his life and legacy,” said Ann Bookout, Regent, or chair, of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.
“Doug’s experience as an accomplished scholar and pioneering educator will help us to advance this important aspect of our mission.”
Bradburn comes to Mount Vernon from Binghamton University-State University of New York, where he serves as vice-chair and director of graduate studies of the History Department. A specialist in Washington’s era, he boasts a lengthy list of publication and teaching credits on topics related to the founding period, including two books and dozens of articles and manuscripts. He also co-edits an important series on early American history at the University of Virginia Press. Peter Onuf, professor at the University of Virginia and co-host of the popular NPR program, Backstory with the American History Guys, called Bradburn “one of the smartest people writing in the field today.”
“Doug is a respected scholar with an entrepreneurial spirit. With his extensive knowledge about the era in which George Washington lived and the early Virginia society in which he grew up, he will be an immediate asset to Mount Vernon, ” said Mount Vernon’s president, Curt Viebranz. “His academic pursuits are rooted in the past, but his eye for innovation and his ability to build compelling new programs and connections will play a critical role in the launch of the Library.”
In addition to academic achievements, Bradburn’s career at SUNY-Binghamton is punctuated by successful entrepreneurial ventures. Upon joining the staff, he took immediate steps to invigorate the university’s early American history program, transforming it into one of the most highly-regarded of its kind. He spearheaded the development of the Upstate Early American History Workshop, which brings scholars together from throughout the region to review academic works in progress. He has forged relationships and partnerships with local historical societies, museums, and civic organizations to provide audiences for his students’ works and to strengthen ties to the community. Under Bradburn’s guidance, Binghamton students have been honored with fellowships and funded research opportunities, and with tenure-track positions of their own.
Bradburn arrived at Binghamton as an assistant professor of history in 2005. He was named associate professor in 2008, later serving as department vice-chair and was recently elected chair. He is considered one of the best teachers on the campus and was honored with the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2010. His teaching was featured on C-SPAN’s “Lectures in History” series in 2012. He has furthered his own studies as the recipient of prestigious fellowships, including a Gilder Lehrman Research Fellowship at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello (2004-2005) and a Faculty Fellowship at the Newberry Library in Chicago (2004). His additional teaching experiences include adjunct professorships at Northern Illinois University (2003-2004) and DePaul University (2000).
As founding director of the new Library, Bradburn will manage a staff of approximately fifteen, including Mount Vernon’s special collections and library reference professionals, all of whom will work inside the new 45,000 square-foot facility located opposite the main entrance to the Mount Vernon estate. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association raised $106.4 million to construct and endow the Library and to establish its opening slate of programs, including short- and long-term residential research fellowships. Managed by the private not-for-profit Association, the Library will not accept government funding.
“This library has the potential to trump all presidential libraries, as Washington’s impact on the history and character of the United States is greater than that of any president, and perhaps any single historic figure,” said Bradburn. “I am honored to be selected to lead Mount Vernon’s efforts to stimulate the creation and circulation of new thinking on the founding, and to build connections that enable our leaders, rising scholars, and the general public to access it.”
Born in Wisconsin, raised in Virginia, and currently residing in Binghamton, Bradburn holds a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Economics from the University of Virginia and a PhD in History from the University of Chicago. His wife of 15 years, Nadene J. Bradburn, is president of Blackwell Associates, a healthcare consulting firm. They have two children, Charles, 9, and Samuel, 8. His new position begins August 15.