We recently hosted twenty-five educators who came to the Society from across the country to participate in a two-week Summer Institute funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Titled The News Media and the Making of America, 1730-1865, the program examined—through twenty-one seminar sessions and eighteen library workshops—how news was defined, reported, and disseminated from the Colonial period through the end of the Civil War. While participants examined the Society’s extensive collections of newspapers and periodicals, they also explored private letters and journals, pamphlets, books, and a wide variety of graphic materials to gain a greater understanding of the media milieu of each time period, the impact of technology on communications, and how social and political movements shaped and defined news and how it was communicated.
The program was co-directed by me and David Paul Nord, who is professor emeritus of history and journalism from Indiana University. Additionally, AAS staff members Lauren Hewes, Kayla Hopper, Marie Lamoureux, and Vincent Golden led workshops, and guests Joshua Brown, David Henkin, and Megan Kate Nelson conducted individual seminars and workshop sessions.
The participating teachers came from ten different states: Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, and Vermont. They taught a variety of subjects, including history, English Language Arts, journalism, and graphic arts. They included seventeen high school, five middle school, and three elementary level instructors who taught in public, private, and charter schools.
One of these teachers, Philip Crossman, is also an accomplished artist. Throughout the Institute he quietly created caricatures of the staff and faculty and then solicited thank you notes from all of the participants. On the last day of the program he presented these to us. These thank you notes and caricatures also included mock library call slips (right) as a further tribute to the inspiration these folks found in the AAS collections. One teacher echoed the sentiments of many when she wrote, “Thank you for this amazing opportunity to learn about this nation through the news media. It has been eye-opening and a great pleasure.” We couldn’t think of a better way for them to say thank you!