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Research and Scholarship

The McNulty Institute seeks to build a vibrant interdisciplinary research environment to engage faculty and students in scholarship related to women’s leadership and the broader field of Gender and Women’s Studies, which will lead to transformative thinking and inform policy change.


The ’Steenth Street Project: Recovering Alice Dunbar-Nelson’s Stories of Black Childhood

AY 2022 Idol Family Fellows Program

The fellows in the Idol Family Fellowship Program are: Denise Burgher, ABD, English, University of Delaware; African American Public Humanities Initiative and Colored Conventions Project Fellow, Brigitte Fielder, associate professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison; author, Relative Races: Genealogies of Interracial Kinship in Nineteenth-Century America (Duke University Press, 2020), Jean Lutes, Luckow Family Endowed Chair of English Literature, Villanova University; with Student Affiliate Fellows: Kashae Garland, English and Criminology major, Villanova Class of 2022, Cynthia Choo, English and Humanities double major and Education minor Class of 2023 and Trinity Rogers, Peace & Justice Major, Class of 2024.

Their project: The ’Steenth Street Project: Recovering Alice Dunbar-Nelson’s Stories of Black Childhood. This public-facing humanities project aims to recover a lost short story collection written in the 1890s by Black author and activist Alice Dunbar-Nelson, based on her experience teaching Black kindergarteners at the White Rose Mission in New York City. “The Annals of ‘Steenth Street,” as Dunbar-Nelson titled the planned collection, features the youngest residents of a city neighborhood targeted for uplift by Progressive-era reformers. It chronicles a vibrant community where poverty, neglect, domestic violence, limited access to education, and untreated illnesses make it difficult for people to thrive.

We are collaborating with the Black-majority School District of Philadelphia to bring Dunbar-Nelson’s work directly to the people who inspired and shaped “The Annals of ‘Steenth Street,” American children.

In deference to Dunbar-Nelson’s long career as an educator and advocate for racial justice, our goal is to produce a widely accessible digital edition along with curriculum resources and to make our work scalable, relevant, and adaptable to multiple K-12 school systems as well as college classrooms.

Children’s Books by Black Authors: A Reading List  - The New York Times (

AY 2020-2021 Idol Family Fellows Program

The McNulty Institute, in collaboration with the Villanova Institute for Research & Scholarship, is proud to announce the first annual Idol Family Fellows Program, an exciting new fellowship aimed to create innovative, scholarly collaborations that will advance gender equity and promote social change. The Program is designed to foster collaborative cross-disciplinary communities of scholars committed to the development and dissemination of scholarship that addresses the most pressing issues related to gender equity. 

In its inaugural year, the fellows in the Idol Family Fellowship Program are:
Nadia E. Brown, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies at Purdue University; and Camille D. Burge, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Political Science at Villanova University; with Student Affiliate Fellows: Danielle Burns (M.A. in Political Science, '21); and Gia Beaton (B.A. in Political Science, '20).

Their project, You Okay Sis? Electoral Politics and Representation in Tumultuous Times, will examine the politics of Black women voters, political candidates, and elected officials. The team will also host several community forums on doing collaborative research, in partnership with the Villanova Institute for Research and Scholarship. Stay tuned for more from these Fellows as their work progresses on this timely topic!

For more information about the Idol Fellows program and to connect with fellows click here


Gender, Work, and Family Scholars

This cross-disciplinary Community of Scholars on the topic of gender, work, and family was formed in Spring of 2019. Open to all Villanova Scholars, members meet quarterly, and share their scholarly profiles, relevant syllabi, and opportunities for funding and collaborative research. Click here to view the community of scholars.  

Idol Family Fellowship Program Coffee and Research Chat

Black Women, Representation, and the Constitution

With the passage of the 19th and 15th Amendments more than 100 years ago, African American women’s suffrage became part of the Constitution. Yet the history of the struggle for Black women’s suffrage and representation is lesser known and is still developing today. Join Nadia Brown, professor of government and chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Georgetown University and Idol Family Fellow at the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute at Villanova University; Bettye Collier-Thomas, professor of history at Temple University and co-editor of African American Women and the Vote, 1837–1965; and Martha Jones, Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and author of Vanguard, for a discussion on the history of Black women in America’s representative democracy, including their roles as suffrage advocates, voters, and representatives, from Sojourner Truth to Shirley Chisholm. Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, provides introductory remarks, and Lana Ulrich, senior director of content at the National Constitution Center, moderates the discussion. 

This program is made possible through the generous support of the McNulty Foundation in partnership with the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women's Leadership at Villanova University and as part of the Center’s Women and the Constitution, initiative.