Reconstruction remains a pivotal but much misunderstood era of American history, 125 years after it came to a close. This seminar will examine the history of Reconstruction, understood both as a specific period of the American past, which began during the Civil War, and as a prolonged and difficult process by which Americans sought to reunite the nation and come to terms with the destruction of slavery. In political terms, Reconstruction ended in 1877, when the federal government abandoned the idea of intervening in the South to protect the rights of black citizens. As a historical process, it lasted to the turn of the century, when new systems of labor and race relations and a new political order were entrenched in the South. In debates about racial equality, the interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, affirmative action, and the responsibility of the federal government for defining and protecting the rights of citizens, issues central to Reconstruction, remain part of our lives today. Reconstruction also offers an opportunity to consider the politics of history: how changing interpretations of the past are shaped by the world in which the historian lives and the assumptions he or she brings to the materials of history.;
Readings are sent by the Institute to seminar participants. Readings may include:
Foner, Eric. Reconstruction, America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
Foner, Eric. Nothing But Freedom: Emancipation and Its Legacy. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2007.
Jones, Martha S. All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830–1900. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.
There are several options for traveling to and from Columbia University. LaGuardia Airport is the closest to the campus; a taxicab ride is about $30.00 (including a 15% tip), and the M60 city bus goes directly from LaGuardia to the campus every half hour for $2.50 (change only). For visitors arriving at any area airport (including Newark International Airport), shuttle bus service is available to the Port Authority Bus Terminal or to Grand Central Station. The Columbia University website also provides detailed driving directions. As parking is not available on campus, participants who drive will need to park in public parking lots.
Workshop participants will be housed in an on-campus dormitory. Participants will be placed in private rooms, but will share bathroom facilities. Every floor has a lounge and a full kitchen. The university provides bedding and towels only. Please note that participants should plan to bring fans, alarm clocks, shampoo, hangers, irons, hair dryers, etc. There are telephones in each room, but they require a calling card to make outside calls.
Every room is equipped with an Internet connection, but cables are not provided. Participants should plan to bring laptops as computer access on campus will be limited.
Meals will be served in a university cafeteria in space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from the seminar. Each seminar participant will receive reimbursement of travel expenses up to $400. Please read our complete travel reimbursement policy before applying.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is proud to announce its agreement with Adams State University to offer three hours of graduate credit in American history to participating seminar teachers. For more information click here.
“This was an amazing experience. I learned a great deal about the content and feel much more confident teaching it to my students. Though I currently teach creative writing, I also feel more confident incorporating history into my curriculum. Professor Foner and Jones were both dynamic speakers.”
“This seminar was life-changing. Eric Foner completely reshaped my understanding of the Reconstruction period and the history of race in America. His lectures were immensely informative and entirely engaging. He was so generous with his time in taking us through the archives at Columbia and staying to hear our presentations. The other leading scholars also organized fantastic presentations that perfectly complemented Foner’s scholarship. This seminar provided me with the conceptual framework and the resources to better teach the subject-matter and develop further educational programs at the [museum where I work]. The participants in the seminar also made the week an invaluable experience. This is my most memorable educational experience yet! It left me feeling inspired and ready to delve back into my work.”
“An excellent week, well organized and presented. The level of prestigious and esteemed seminar presenters Gilder Lehrman can attract is impressive.”
Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.