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Joseph Ellis, Professor Emeritus of History, Mount Holyoke College


We will focus on the letters between Abigail and John Adams, attempting to understand the role of the Adamses in shaping the American Revolution and its role in shaping them. We will be most interested in the interaction between their private lives and the more public events that became the benchmarks of a successful war for American independence and the creation of the world’s oldest enduring republic.


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

Hogan, Margaret, and James Taylor. My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.

Joseph J. Ellis, First Family: Abigail and John Adams New York, NY: Knopf, 2010

Travel & Accommodations

Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, is approximately two hours from downtown Boston, two-and-a-half hours from Logan Airport, and three hours from New York City. For travel information and driving directions, visit the Amherst College website.

Workshop participants will be housed in an on-campus dormitory. Participants will be placed in private rooms, but may share bathroom facilities. The college provides bedding and towels only. Please note that participants should plan to bring fans, alarm clocks, shampoo, hangers, irons, hair dryers, etc. Housekeeping services are provided throughout the week.

Participants should plan to bring laptops, as computer access on campus will be limited. 


Meals will be served in a college 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

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.

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.

Course Reviews from Summer 2013 Participants

“I feel very, very fortunate to have been in the seminar with Joseph Ellis. His insight, his humor, and his kindness to all of us was inspiring. . . . My students are 9 and 10 years old and with guidance by me and inspiration by people like Joseph Ellis, we can inspire another generation of students to love American history as we do. Ellis called it contagious enthusiasm. I got that from him and it is very exciting for me to take that back to my young students. He is an inspirational teacher. I’m very, very honored to have been a part of this seminar.”

“The lead scholar was amazing. His depth of knowledge is staggering. At the same time, he was completely approachable and responsive. I would have liked another week or two to learn from him . . . What made this seminar was the caliber of the teachers there, and the lead scholar. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from and with Dr. Ellis.”

“Dr. Ellis was an excellent host and scholar. He was approachable and extremely interested in the ideas and questions of the participants. He is a teacher’s teacher. . . . Content was excellent, Joe was informative and welcoming.”


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

July 20th, 2014 5:00 PM   through   July 26th, 2014 9:00 AM
Amherst College
Amherst, MA
United States

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Seminar Fee
Attending $50.00
Not Attending $0.00

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