Programs & Events

Seminar Summit, July 19-22: Everyday Life in Colonial America

Due to the growing health crisis and restrictions on in-person gatherings, the Gilder Lehrman Institute will not be able to offer in-person Teacher Seminars this summer. We are working on an alternative offering for the summer. Please visit for updates.


Zara Anishanslin, Associate Professor of History and Art History and Director, American Civilization Program, University of Delaware


The seminar will explore central themes and questions relating to everyday life during the colonial period of American history (here, roughly 1565–1775). Framed around a chronology that ranges from the oldest continuously inhabited European-inhabited settlement (St. Augustine, Florida) to the opening salvos of the American Revolution (the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts), the seminar considers what life on the ground was like for the diverse peoples of various European, African, and indigenous descent who came together—in conflict and in community—in the widespread places that made up colonial America. Special attention will be paid throughout the seminar to the historical sources and biographical stories that connect us with the material dimensions of early American life—from forts to furnishings, from clothing to ceramics, and from gardens to guns. The seminar will consider everyday life from the cradle to the grave, dwelling especially upon how such histories can illuminate our teaching of events of pivotal importance in colonial American history, such as the starving times in Jamestown, Virginia, the Salem Witch Trials, and the Stamp Act Crisis. Morning sessions will combine lectures with discussion. Afternoon activities will build upon the morning sessions, but focus heavily on analysis and discussion of primary sources, both archival and visual. 

Travel & Accommodations

This seminar is part of the 2020 Teacher Seminar Summit. During this inaugural Summit, the Institute will offer twelve concurrent seminars ranging from the Age of Discovery through the Vietnam War. The Summit is expected to serve more than 400 teachers. Each attendee will participate in a seminar with a lead scholar and master teacher, and will have the opportunity to attend book talks where they can hear other eminent historians discuss their major works. This unique format will also give all participating teachers a chance to network with each other.

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements; the Institute will provide a stipend of $350 for travel expenses. Read the policy hereGettysburg College is located in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The closest and most convenient airports are Harrisburg International Airport (a 45-minute drive) and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (a 75-minute drive). The college provides shuttle service to campus from many of the major transportation hubs in the area. Call Transportation Services, 717-337-6923, to make arrangements.

The Harrisburg Amtrak Station is about 45 minutes from campus. Again, the college provides shuttle service so long as you call ahead.

If you plan to drive, the Gettysburg College website will provide you with detailed instructions.

Workshop participants will stay in on-campus housing in private bedrooms with a shared common bathroom and common space. The rooms are air-conditioned. The college will provide sheets, a blanket, a pillow, and one towel. You are welcome to bring your own fitted sheets. Please note that participants should plan to bring alarm clocks, hangers, irons, hair dryers, and shower shoes.

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.


Please be sure to review the Institute’s policies on independent school teacher participation and travel stipends before applying.


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

Seminar Year: 2019-2020