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Thomas Jefferson: Personality, Character, and Public Life

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A four-week institute for twenty-six school teachers on the personality, character, and public life of Thomas Jefferson.

Peter Gibbon, Senior Research Fellow at Boston University's School of Education, plans to examine Thomas Jefferson's personality, philosophy, and world view in order to shed light on America's founding and the social and cultural history of the early republic. Institute topics include Jefferson's character, education, and private life; Jefferson as president and family man; Jefferson's attitudes towards his fellow Founding Fathers, towards slavery, and towards religion; Jefferson and Monticello; Jefferson and money; and Jefferson's legacy. Readings include selections from the Library of America edition of Jefferson's writings and from Joseph Ellis, American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson; Richard Bernstein, Jefferson; and Joyce Appleby, Thomas Jefferson; among others. Institute personnel include Jefferson biographer Richard Bernstein, Joanne Freeman (Yale University), Jan Lewis (Rutgers University), Peter Onuf (University of Virginia), Herbert Sloan (Barnard College), and Peter Hatch (Monticello). Field trips include visits to Adams National Historical Park; the Massachusetts Historical Society, which houses a large collection of Jefferson's personal papers; and Harvard's Peabody Museum. A virtual online tour introduces participants to Monticello and its grounds. Participants complete short papers and model curriculum units on Jefferson, the latter of which are posted on an institute website.

Faculty: R. B. Bernstein, Joan Musbach, Joanne Freeman, Peter Hatch, Jan Lewis, Peter Onuf, and Herbert Sloan

Dates: July 7—26 (3 weeks)
Director(s): Peter Gibbon, Boston University
Grantee Institutions: Boston University
Location: Boston, MA

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.