Discipline: Literature – nonfiction

Rachel L. Swarns

Discipline: Literature – nonfiction
Region: Montclair, NJ
MacDowell Fellowships: 2021

Rachel L. Swarns is a journalist, author and professor, who writes about race and race relations as a longtime writer for The New York Times. Her articles about Georgetown University’s roots in slavery touched off a national conversation about American universities and their ties to this painful period of history. She is currently a professor of journalism at New York University and the author of The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church; American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama, a New York Times notable book; and a co-author of Unseen: Unpublished Black History from The New York Times Photo Archives. At MacDowell, she worked on The 272, her third book, which explores how slavery fueled the growth of Georgetown and the Catholic Church. Recent fellowships include Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellowship, City University of New York (2021); Frances “Frank” Rollin Fellowship, Biographers International Organization (2021); New York University Humanities Fellowship (2020-2021); Ford Foundation grant (2017-2018); Soros Equality Fellowship (2017-2018.)



Rachel L. Swarns worked in the Garland studio.

Marian MacDowell and friends originally named this studio in memory of Anna Baetz, the nurse who helped care for Edward MacDowell in the waning years of his life. With generous support from the Garland family, the studio was renovated in 2013 and renamed the Peter and Mary Garland Studio. The inward opening, diamond-pane windows were replaced…

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