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Inventing America: Lowell and the Industrial Revolution

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 textile industry in Lowell, Massachusetts, as a case study of early nineteenth-century industrialization.

This workshop focuses on Lowell, Massachusetts, the first planned industrial city in the United States, as a means to study changes in work, economics, society, culture, and the environment that occurred between 1820 and 1860. To address the key themes that a study of Lowell invites, Merritt Roe Smith (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) places the local textile industry in an international context, Patrick Malone (Brown University) focuses on Lowell's water power system, Jack Larkin (Old Sturbridge Village) discusses the transition from an agrarian to a market-based economy, Gray Fitzsimons (GGF Historical Consultants) focuses on the textile industry's management structure and on the experience of Irish and French Canadian immigrants, Robert Forrant (University of Massachusetts, Lowell) speaks about labor's responses to the new industrial order, Chad Montrie (University of Massachusetts, Lowell) explores the tensions between the traditional and the modern in the literature of the early nineteenth century, and Marie Frank (University of Massachusetts, Lowell) utilizes two selections (by Thomas Cole and Charles Sheeler) from the NEH Picturing America portfolio to explore responses to industrialization and the American landscape. Participants directly examine Lowell's rich historic fabric such as the Suffolk Mill, the Boott Cotton Mill and Boarding House, and other mill sites along the Merrimack and Concord Rivers. Site visits to Old Sturbridge Village and the town of Concord put the industrial developments in a wider context. In addition to readings by workshop scholars, the participants read selections by historians Thomas Dublin, Patrick Malone, and Brian Mitchell; the period literature of Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne; and the writings of young women who worked in the mills. The university provides online support through Blackboard, and teachers develop lesson plans, the best of which are posted on the workshop's website.

Dates: June 23–28 or July 14–19
Director(s): Sheila Kirschbaum
Grantee Institutions: University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Location: Lowell, MA

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.