MS/LIS student Jonathan Puckett has been selected as a recipient of the Sherrill Carlson Fellowship by The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. The fellowship, worth $35,000, is one of two national awards given by the society to the top-ranked nominee in the humanities and the arts.
Puckett earned bachelor's degrees in history and English and a minor in Black studies from the University of Southern Mississippi in May 2020. His senior thesis was on the archival rediscovery of the literature of Pauline E. Hopkins, an early twentieth-century African-American author, and Hopkins’ literary contributions to conversations about citizenship in the Jim Crow era.
Puckett chose the iSchool at Illinois for his graduate study because of the School's top ranking and resources. He decided to pursue an MS/LIS because of his personal experience with archives and libraries.
"I am an only child from a poor, single-parent household, and when I was about eight, I began genealogical research to locate family members with whom I could better relate. Planning three family reunions in middle school and privately publishing two genealogical books, I became affiliated with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History as a freelance researcher while in high school," Puckett said.
At the age of fifteen, he received a Seton Shields Genealogical Grant for his research. Three years later, Puckett's search for his ancestry was featured in The Wall Street Journal.
"These early experiences helped hone my interest in library and information science, as I developed an interest in people's stories, particularly those individuals who are underheard or who are silenced in the general fields of history and literature," he said.
Puckett recently started his graduate assistantship in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois.