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The Transcontinental Railroad: Transforming California and the Nation

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 transcontinental railroad and its impact on nineteenth-century America.

This workshop explores the impact of the transcontinental railroad on the politics, society, economy, and environment of California and the nation. Daily topics include technology and labor, geography and the environment, the social and economic impact of the railroad, and the West in the American imagination. Based in Sacramento, the western terminus of the railroad, the project includes visits to the California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento State Historic Park, the Sacramento History Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, and the mansion of railroad baron Leland Stanford. Farther afield, participants take day trips to Stanford University's Bill Lane Center for the West, the Chinese Historical Society of America, and the treacherous Donner Pass, an example of the difficult terrain faced by railroad workers. In addition to co-directors Ari Kelman and Eric Rauchway of University of California, Davis, the faculty includes historians Richard White (Stanford University) and Richard J. Orsi (California State University, East Bay), as well as museum curators and staff. White discusses selected chapters from his prize-winning book Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America. Other readings are drawn from Amy Richter's Home on the Rails: Women, the Railroad, and the Rise of Public Domesticity; Alexander Saxton's The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California; Wolfgang Schivelbusch's The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the 19th Century; Andrew C. Isenberg's The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1850-1920; and The West as America: Reinterpreting Images of the Frontier, 1820-1920, edited by William Truettner. During the workshop, participants develop a resource list, annotated bibliography, and lesson or unit plans for posting on the project's website.

Dates: June 23-28 or July 7-12
Director(s): Ari Kelman and Eric Rauchway
Grantee Institutions: University of California, Davis
Location: Sacramento, 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.