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The Abolitionist Movement: Fighting Slavery and Racial Injustice from the American Revolution to the Civil War

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A four-week seminar for sixteen school teachers to examine the abolitionist movement from the time of the American Revolution to the aftermath of the Civil War.

Project director Richard Newman (history, Rochester Institute of Technology) leads a project on the development of American abolitionism. During the first week, the seminar covers moderate strategies for gradual emancipation in the years following the American Revolution; the second week looks at the role of African-American abolitionists, such as James Forten, David Walker, and David Ruggles. The third week deals with the radicalization of abolitionism in the decades before the Civil War, the rise of abolitionist political parties, debates over the uses of violence, and the expanding participation of women reformers. In the final week, participants investigate the role of abolitionists during the Civil War era, including emancipation in the South, struggles for racial justice in the North, and precedents for the modern Civil Rights movement. The program includes seminar sessions, primary source discussions, site visits in Philadelphia and Gettysburg, and teacher presentations on specific historical sources. The readings are drawn from a large list of primary sources, including documents housed at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the neighboring Historical Society of Pennsylvania, as well as from writings by such leading historians as Gary Nash, John Stauffer, Patrick Rael, Ira Berlin, and Steven Hahn, among others. Four outside historians visit the seminar: Maurice Jackson (Georgetown University), Erica Armstrong Dunbar (University of Delaware), Elizabeth Varon (University of Virginia), and James Oakes (City University of New York Graduate Center).


Dates: June 30 —July 26 (4 weeks)
Director(s): Richard Newman, Rochester Institute of Technology
Grantee Institutions: Library Company of Philadelphia
Location: Philadelphia, PA

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.