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Rethinking the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, 1877 to 1920

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A four-week institute for thirty school teachers to study new perspectives on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Arguing that historians have recently reinvigorated debates about the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, project director Robert Johnston leads a new institute that introduces teachers to these historiographical debates and to the many conflicting currents of American society between 1877 and 1920. Framed by the sometimes-competing concepts of capitalism and democracy, the institute asks how the nation addressed the rapid changes that occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Topics under consideration include the development of corporations; labor and class conflict; responses to immigration; women and progressive reforms; African-American migration and its impact; urban planning, architecture, and conservation; and the philosophy of the Progressive Era. Classroom discussions are enlivened by field experiences at sites significant to Chicago's labor history, Hull House Museum, the Newberry Library, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Robie House, and the archives at the University of Illinois, Chicago. In leading institute sessions, University of Illinois, Chicago, historians Robert Johnston, Leon Fink, and Jeff Sklansky are joined by Daniel Greene (Newberry Library), Maureen Flanagan (Illinois Institute of Technology), Adriane Lentz-Smith (Duke University), Theo Anderson (independent scholar), and Jeff Helgeson (Texas State University), and by site curatorial staff. Readings include selections from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime and from the writings of Emma Lazarus, Jane Addams, W.E.B. Du Bois, and William James, as well as works by historians Rebecca Edwards, James Green, James Barrett, Alan Trachtenberg, and project scholars, among others.

Faculty: Theo Anderson, David Bagnall, James Barrett, Diane Dillon, Daniel Greene, Maureen Flangan, Leon Fink, Jeffrey Helgeson, Ben Johnson, Chris Lamberti, Adriane Lentz-Smith, Molly Myers, Jeffrey Sklansky, Charles Tocci

Dates: July 8—August 2 (4 weeks)
Director(s): Robert Johnston, University of Illinois, Chicago, and Crystal Johnson, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Grantee Institutions: Chicago Metro History Education Center
Location: Chicago, IL

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.