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The Hudson River in the 19th Century and the Modernization of America

Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

Two one-week workshops for eighty school teachers that survey the Hudson River in an interdisciplinary study of modernization in nineteenth-century America.

Ramapo College offers a workshop on the Hudson River as a case study of the scope of modernization in nineteenth-century America. The study of art, literature, and architecture, alongside the developments of commerce, industry, and tourism that emerged on the nineteenth-century Hudson, reveal the diverse ways in which Americans navigated the waterway. This approach also brings an interdisciplinary perspective to history and a humanities focus to environmental studies. Each day allows for a specific topic with lectures, readings, and site-based activities tied to a region of the river. The workshop begins by considering the mouth of the Hudson as estuary and economic gateway; participants survey New York Harbor by boat, walk the commercial district of Wall Street, and read Walt Whitman's poetry at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. Farther up river, they discuss short stories by Washington Irving; visit his home, Sunnyside; and compare this modest structure to Lyndhurst, its Gilded-Age neighbor and home of financier Jay Gould. They study the development of the steamboat and Erie Canal for the purpose of industry and commerce, and the Hudson River School paintings of Thomas Cole as romantic depictions of nature. Finally, a morning boat trip-enhanced by readings in period guidebooks-enable participants to interpret the river's dramatic geology, iconic vistas, and environmental change through a nineteenth-century lens. Project directors Stephen P. Rice and Meredith Davis are scholars of American studies and art history, respectively. Their expertise is supplemented by Elizabeth Hutchinson (art history, Columbia University), Roger Panetta (Curator of the Hudson River Collection, Fordham University), Judith Richardson (English, Stanford University), Thomas Wermuth (history, Marist College and Director of the Hudson River Valley Institute), and Stephen Stanne (Hudson River Estuary Program, Cornell University). In addition to place-based writing exercises, a session entitled "Teaching Your Place" assists teachers in the translation of the Hudson River workshop to local sites.

Dates: July 7–12 or July 14–19
Director(s): Meredith Davis and Stephen Rice
Grantee Institutions: Ramapo College of New Jersey
Location: Mahwah, NJ

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.