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John Demos, Samuel Knight Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University


The seminar will explore central themes and questions relating to everyday life during the colonial period of American history (roughly 1600–1775). An opening pair of units will treat the life cycle as typically experienced in that era—first, around its terminal points (birth and death), then through its various intervening stages. The remaining units will form a trio, comprising inner-life experience (psychology), interpersonal behavior (sociology), and concern with the supernatural (religion, magic, witchcraft, and related matters of cosmology).

Our larger goal is to develop a detailed sense of “life on the ground” among ordinary folk in this long-ago time and place. Our main focus will be New England—and the history that remains evident in its natural and built landscape—but, wherever possible, reference will be made to other colonial venues as well. The seminar will meet daily. Morning sessions will combine lectures with discussion. Afternoon activities will include field trips, library visits, and additional discussion. (The field trips, in particular, will serve to connect us with the material dimension of early American life—the houses, furnishings, gardens, and other surviving artifacts.)


Readings are sent by the Institute to seminar participants. Readings may include:

Demos, John. Circles and Lines: The Shape of Life in Early America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Demos, John. Remarkable Providences: Readings on Early American History. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1991.

Travel & Accommodations

Yale University is located in New Haven, Connecticut. The Tweed-New Haven Airport is located about fifteen minutes from the Yale Campus. Taxis from Tweed cost about $15.00 one way. Additionally, Bradley Airport is located an hour north of New Haven and is served by many major airlines. Connecticut Limo shuttles leave once an hour and cost $84 round trip. Amtrak provides service directly into New Haven’s Union Station, about a ten-minute cab ride from downtown New Haven and the Yale campus. MetroNorth provides commuter service on a regular basis from New York City into New Haven.

Workshop participants will be housed in a university residence hall. Rooms are arranged in suites of two single bedrooms, with a furnished living room, shared bath, and a kitchenette. The building is air-conditioned with Internet service provided. Several computer clusters and lounges are available in the complex. Some participants choose to bring laptops. Please bring your own ethernet cable.

Yale provides sheets and towels only. Please note that participants should plan to bring alarm clocks, hangers, irons, and hair dryers. Kitchenettes are located in each suite. However, participants should bring their own utensils. Housekeeping services are provided throughout the week.


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.

Travel Reimbursement

Each summer seminar participant will receive reimbursement of travel expenses up to $400. Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from the seminar.

Participants traveling internationally or from Alaska and Hawaii receive a $500 stipend in lieu of reimbursement upon completion of the seminar. Applicants to seminars should note that supplements will not be given in cases where the $400 allowance is insufficient to cover all travel expenses. Our reimbursement policy has changed from previous years. For more information on our policy click here.

Graduate Credit

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.


Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

June 30th, 2013 5:00 PM   through   July 6th, 2013 9:00 AM
Yale University
New Haven, CT
United States

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Seminar Fee
Attending $50.00
Not Attending $0.00

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