Programs & Events

Native Peoples, Settlers, and European Empires in North America, 1600–1840, July 28–August 3, 2019


Daniel K. Richter, Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History and Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania


A many-sided contest for control of the continent defined early American history. Placing the struggle among Native peoples, settlers, and empires center stage, this seminar explores new ways for students to understand the multicultural origins of the United States. Dozens of rivalrous Native peoples contended with equally rivalrous English, French, Dutch, and Spanish empires. In the meantime, the aims of imperial officials in London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Madrid frequently clashed with those of colonists on the ground, particularly when it came to relations with Native Americans and the role of enslaved labor in agricultural expansion. The kaleidoscopic struggles came to a head in the era of the American Revolution, in which settler colonists simultaneously rebelled against British imperial rule and fought with Native Americans for dominance in the trans-Appalachian west. The contest continued through the period of the War of 1812 and the era of Indian Removal in the 1830s, which saw the aggressively expansionist new nation that settlers had created seemingly triumph over both its indigenous and imperial rivals. 

This seminar is presented in partnership with the Library Company of Philadelphia as part of the project Redrawing History: Indigenous Perspectives on Colonial America. Support for Redrawing History: Indigenous Perspectives on Colonial America has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Travel & Accommodations

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements; the Institute will reimburse up to $400 in travel expenses. Read the policy here.

The University of Pennsylvania is accessible via Amtrak from the Philadelphia 30th Street Station and via SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Line at 34th and Market Streets. The university is approximately 20 minutes away from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL); the SEPTA Regional Rail Airport Line connects the airport directly to the University City station, which is only a few steps away from Penn's campus. For more information, please visit Penn’s directions page here.

Workshop participants will stay in Penn campus residence halls. Participants should bring laptops, as computer access on campus will be limited.

The university provides basic bedding and towels only. Participants should bring alarm clocks, shower shoes, hangers, irons, and hair dryers. There are a few communal kitchenettes in the building, but not within each suite; 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.


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


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

Seminar Year: 2018-2019