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The Kendrick Kelley Honors Program provides a unique opportunity for outstanding history students to produce a significant piece of historical research and writing. It consists of three core components: 

  • Kelley Scholars are chosen from the most promising history majors, and given financial stipends to conduct independent research towards the completion of a Kelley Honors Thesis.
  • The Kelley Lecture Series brings distinguished historians to speak at Davidson.
  • The Kelley Award is granted to a senior history major who "best exemplifies Ken Kelley's personal qualities-superior academic performance, self-effacing leadership, and genuine integrity."

Juniors apply each spring to the History Department for senior year admission as a Kelley Scholar. Once accepted, they research and write a substantial senior thesis of 80-100 pages. Each thesis is expected to make a valuable and original contribution to historical research, based on primary sources and archival manuscript collections.

Honors Requirements

Candidates for admission to the honors program in history must have an overall grade point average of 3.2 after the fall semester of the junior year. Honors candidates must write an honors thesis and defend it orally in HIS 488/489 (the Kelley Seminar) during the senior year. To qualify for honors at graduation, candidates must have earned an average of 3.5 or above in the major, an "A" or "A-" or "B+" on the thesis (HIS 489), and an overall average of 3.2 or above.

The Kendrick K. Kelley Program in Historical Studies represents a living memorial to Ken Kelley, Class of '63, an honors history graduate who was killed in 1968 while serving in Vietnam. The Kelley Program seeks to enrich the academic experience of students majoring in history and to encourage them to emulate Ken Kelley's virtues and achievements.

The program has three components. First, junior history majors who have grade point averages of at least 3.2 are invited to apply to the Kelley Program. Those admitted enroll in a year-long Kelley Seminar (HIS 488/489) for seniors, which culminates in the writing of a thesis and an oral defense of the same. Travel funds enable Kelley Scholars to pursue research in distant libraries and archives.  Second, the Kelley Lecture Series brings distinguished historians to the Davidson campus. Finally, the Kelley Award annually recognizes the senior history major who best exemplifies Ken Kelley's personal qualities: superior academic performance, self-effacing leadership, and personal integrity.

Past Historical Topics Researched by Kelley Scholars

  • The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War
  • The British Response to the American Civil War
  • German Response to the Armenian Genocide of 1915
  • Land Tenancy in North Carolina in the 1930s
  • American Responses to Indian Nationalism after World War II
  • Elite Women's Search for Solitude in the Antebellum South

About Kendrick Kelley

Named after a Davidson alumnus who was killed in the Vietnam War, the History Department is deeply honored by the generosity of his friends and family. The Ken Kelley Program in Historical Studies stands as a living monument to a gifted and self-sacrificing man who embodied Davidson values. The program offers a remarkable opportunity for the very best students to challenge themselves as apprentices in the demanding and rewarding craft of historical research and writing.

For further information about the Kelley Program contact professor Jonathan Berkey.