Penfield College Professor Dr. Melanie Pavich Awarded New Grant for Project to Document African-American History in Coastal Georgia

Georgia Humanities

ATLANTA – Dr. Melanie Pavich, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies and history in Penfield College, has been awarded a grant of nearly $2,000 to support continuing research and service by Mercer students and faculty focused on preservation of African-American heritage and heritage sites on the Georgia coast.

The grant was awarded by Georgia Humanities, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, through funding from the Georgia General Assembly.

This is the second Georgia Humanities grant that Dr. Pavich has received for her seven-plus-year research-based service-learning project, and it will assist in the funding of an upcoming public presentation by Mercer students and faculty members, titled “This is My Dirt: Stories of Saint Simons Island,” based on oral history interviews conducted by students with residents of the island located off Georgia’s coast in Glynn County.

The presentation will take place May 18 on Saint Simons Island, and Dr. Daina Ramey Berry, associate professor of history and African-American diaspora studies and Oliver H. Radkey Regents Fellow in History at the University of Texas at Austin, will lecture and meet with students and local residents.

Dr. Berry is an expert in the history of gender and slavery in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the social and economic history of the 19th century. She is also an award-winning historian whose first book, Swing the Sickle for the Harvest is Ripe: Gender and Slavery in Antebellum Georgia, examines slave labor, family and community in upcountry and lowcountry Georgia.

Her second book, The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved from Womb to Grave in the Building of a Nation, is a groundbreaking work that looks at slaves as commodities through every phase of life, from birth to death and beyond.

She has received prestigious research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Association of University Women and the Ford Foundation. She is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, and her work has been featured in The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post and Huffington Post.

Dr. Pavich earned her undergraduate degree in history from Agnes Scott College, her master’s degree in history from Clemson University and her Ph.D. in social foundations of education from the University of Georgia.

Her research is focused on race and gender in the South during the 19th and early 20th centuries and includes the study of African-American education and teachers. She has developed research-and-service-learning-based courses for undergraduate students centered on the study of African-American communities and schools in Georgia.

She is the author of Anna: The Letters of a St. Simons Island Plantation Mistress, 1817-1859, published by the University of Georgia Press, and is currently working on a biography of Martha Schofield, a teacher of African-Americans in South Carolina from 1865 to 1916.

About Penfield College 

Mercer University’s Penfield College, established as the College of Continuing and Professional Studies in 2003, is committed to serving post-traditional learners. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Penfield’s programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary experiences that integrate theory and practice. In addition to providing general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer, Penfield offers degree programs in areas including technology, public safety, public and human services, leadership and administration, healthcare and liberal arts. Programs are offered on Mercer’s campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as Regional Academic Centers in Douglas County and Henry County, and online. To learn more, visit