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Empires of the Wind: Exploration of the United States Pacific West Coast

Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

Two one-week workshops for eighty school teachers on the exploration of California and the Pacific in the development of the young nation.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego (MMSD) offers a workshop led by Raymond Ashley on Pacific exploration. Noting the European arrival in San Diego sixty-five years before Jamestown, it underscores the importance of the West Coast in early American history. Participants study European voyages and consider how period maps revealed early understandings of geography, diverse cultures, and the science of navigation. They learn about prehistoric Native American seafaring, the first interactions between Spanish explorers and native peoples, and the rivalries between Spanish, British, French, and Russian colonizers. Lastly, they study how exploration of the wider Pacific region through such ventures as whaling and trade with China yielded complex communication, migration patterns, and political exchanges. Led by project director Raymond Ashley (MMSD), the workshops benefit from the expertise of Stephen Collston (San Diego State University), Stan Rodriguez (Kumeyaay College), Iris Engstrand (University of San Diego), and David Ringrose (University of California, San Diego), among others. In addition to the museum's collection of historic ships, some of which serve as an on-board classroom, participants visit the Cabrillo National Monument, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and the San Diego Mission de Alcala. Primary sources include maps, shipping manifests, and customs bills, as well as European and native accounts of exploration and first encounters. Secondary sources include J. C. Beaglehole's  The Exploration of the Pacific, William Schurz's The Manila Galleon, Lynn Withey's Voyages of Discovery: Captain Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific, and Richard Johnson's Thence Round Cape Horn. Finally, after a morning on the State's official tallship, California, to immerse participants in aspects of sailing the ship, they share their progress on group teaching projects that are later posted on the MMSD website.

Dates: June 16–21 or July 28–August 2
Director(s): Raymond Ashley
Grantee Institutions: Maritime Museum Association of San Diego
Location: San Diego, CA

About NEH Landmarks of American History: Workshops for School Teachers

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent grant-making agency of the federal government. As part of the NEH’s We the People program, we offer the following Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers. NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops provide the opportunity for K-12 educators to engage in intensive study and discussion of important topics in American history and culture. These one-week programs will give participants direct experiences in the interpretation of significant historical and cultural sites and the use of archival and other primary evidence. Landmarks Workshops present the best scholarship on a specific landmark or related cluster of landmarks, enabling participants to gain a sense of the importance of historical places, to make connections between what they learn in the Workshop and what they teach, and to develop enhanced teaching or research materials.

Amount of Award

Teachers selected to participate will receive a stipend of $1,200 at the end of the residential Workshop session. Stipends are intended to help cover living expenses, books, and travel expenses to and from the Workshop location.


These projects are designed principally for classroom teachers and librarians in public, charter, independent, and religiously-affiliated schools, as well as home schooling parents. Other K-12 school personnel, including administrators, substitute teachers, and classroom professionals, are eligible to participate, subject to available space.

Teachers at schools in the United States or its territorial possessions or Americans teaching in foreign schools where at least 50 percent of the students are American nationals are eligible for this program. Applicants must be United States citizens, residents of U.S. jurisdictions, or foreign nationals who have been residing in the United States or its territories for at least the three years immediately preceding the application deadline. Foreign nationals teaching abroad at non-U.S. chartered institutions are not eligible to apply.

Applicants must complete the NEH application and provide all of the information requested to be considered eligible.

New this year: An individual may apply to up to two NEH Summer Programs in any one year (Landmarks Workshops, Summer Seminars, or Summer Institutes), but may participate in only one. Please note that eligibility criteria differ significantly between the Landmarks Workshops and the Seminars and Institutes Programs.

How to Apply

Please e-mail, telephone or send by U.S. Post a request for application information and expanded Workshop descriptions to the Landmarks directors listed here; in many cases, these materials will also be available on project Web sites. You may request information about as many Workshops as you like, and, as noted above, you may apply to up to two programs but participate in only one.