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Recipe for America: New York, Immigration, and American Identity through Culinary Culture

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2012

“Recipe for America: New York, Immigration, and American Identity through Culinary Culture” is a three-week school teacher institute for twenty-five participants on immigration, assimilation, and food culture in New York City in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The institute investigates immigration, cultural diffusion, and assimilation through a consideration of ethnic foodways, moving from early European immigration to recent experiences of African-American, Caribbean, Chinese, and Asian communities. The Institute is hosted by the New York Public Library (NYPL) and is presented in conjunction with a major NYPL exhibition about food in New York City, which draws from the Library’s extraordinary materials, including its unique cookbook and menu collections, as well as pamphlets and other ephemera.  Throughout, the program addresses cultural traditions, the formation of ethnic neighborhoods, and interactions with the broad American culture. The directors argue that “[r]eligious belief, economic circumstances, geography, understandings of gender roles, and even technology can be understood through food.” The institute visits important sites related to immigration, including Ellis Island, the Lower East Side, and the Jackson Heights neighborhood in Queens. The large cast of visiting scholars includes Suzanne Wasserman (Gotham Center for New York City History), Hasia Diner (Judaic studies, New York University), Megan Elias (history, Queensborough Community College), Andrew Smith (food studies, New York University), Jane Ziegelman (independent scholar), and Edward O'Donnell (history, College of the Holy Cross). The reading list includes a general account of New York history, Gotham, by Mike Wallace and Edwin Burrows; Hungering for America, a major history of Italian, Irish, and Jewish immigrant foodways by visiting scholar Hasia Diner; Remaking the Mainstream, a book on contemporary immigration by Richard Alba and Victor Nee; and studies of immigration, food culture, and research methods by other scholars, including members of the institute faculty. 

Dates: July 30—August 17 (3 weeks)
Grantee Institutions: New York Public Library
Location: New York City, NY

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.