Statement by Chairman Bruce Cole on Newberry Library Fellowship Award

WASHINGTON, (May 21, 2002)

The issue of trust and truth is at the heart of our decision to require the Newberry Library to remove the NEH name from Professor Michael Bellesiles' fellowship. The authorities at the Newberry Library neglected to take seriously the many substantial questions that had been raised about the accuracy of Mr. Bellesiles' scholarship. These questions were widespread before the award committee made its decision; indeed some of them were discussed in the national press, in the letters of support for Professor Bellesiles, and on a web discussion group on which the Newberry was regularly posting notices before the award was made. It was the responsibility of the Newberry Library to have known about these charges and to have held Professor Bellesiles, or any other applicant, to the highest ethical standards. By not doing this they failed to weigh and consider all the factors surrounding Professor Bellesiles's previous research, his proposed research, and indeed the credibility of the researcher himself. By neglecting its crucial oversight responsibilities the Newberry Library failed to meet the high scholarly and ethical standards necessary for any award bearing the NEH name. Consequently we have asked the Newberry Library to remove the NEH name from Professor Bellesiles' fellowship.

Bruce Cole
National Endowment for the Humanities

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