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Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University


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.

Travel & Accommodations

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 $2.25 (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. 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 ethernet cables are not provided. Participants will have access to computer clusters, but many choose to bring laptops. Every floor has a lounge and a full kitchen.


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.

July 21st, 2013 5:00 PM   through   July 27th, 2013 9:00 AM
University of Massachusettes - Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
United States

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Seminar Fee
Attending $50.00
Not Attending $0.00

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