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Directors' Letter


Dear Colleague,
It is with pleasure that we invite you to apply for a weeklong NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop on the War of 1812, held during national commemorations of the conflict’s bicentennial. The nation’s iconic ship, USS Constitution, and the cities of Boston and Salem, Massachusetts, will serve as a backdrop and lens through which to view the War of 1812 in all its complexities. The workshop will be provided twice – July 22-26 and August 5-9, 2013.

Why USS Constitution and the War of 1812?

But why study USS Constitution and the War of 1812? Some people remember the War as the origin of the national anthem. Some know that the British burned the White House and the Capital. Still others repeat Capt. James Lawrence’s dying words, “Don’t give up the ship!” Beyond these bare facts, the War is largely underrepresented and forgotten. Despite its relative obscurity today, the War was very much a turning point in American history.
USS Constitution is the most important artifact of the naval War of 1812 and emerged from that conflict as America’s Ship. As the National Intelligencer editorialized in 1815, she is preserved “…not as a ‘sheer hulk in ordinary’ (for she is no ordinary vessel) but in honourable pomp, as a glorious monument of her own … that our children, and children’s children, may view this stately monument of our Naval Triumphs.” There is no better time to understand just what she and the war she fought in have meant to our nation than during this bicentennial commemoration.
NEH Summer Scholars will be exposed to the complexities of the period and prominent scholars that possess expertise in all aspects of early American culture. Teachers will consider the political justifications for and against the War. They will follow the victories and the reverses at sea and on land. They will read the words of ordinary people who participated in the battles and those who stayed at home. NEH Summer Scholars will consider the War’s impacts on our country, how it was commemorated at the time and in the nation’s cultural memory, and why it should matter to us today, two hundred years later.

Workshop Structure

The workshop’s structure at its core includes lectures and discussions by leading scholars that will provide in-depth information and include a study of artifacts, artwork, and documents from the Museum’s collections that illuminate the topic. Through required readings, including primary and secondary texts, NEH Summer Scholars will contribute to the discussions creating a lively and engaged cohort. These readings along with off-site tours, work sessions, and hands-on pedagogy sessions will support the lectures’ content. The workshop is guided throughout by a Principal Scholar and a Master Educator.
The workshop will call the USS Constitution Museum home base for the week and Summer Scholars will become a part of the Museum experience, if only for a little while. As a final project, participants will work together to create a temporary prototype exhibit on the War of 1812 for visitors from around the world to encounter and engage in. The USS Constitution Museum is a leader in creating hands-on, minds-on exhibits for all ages. Summer Scholars will be applying the knowledge that they learn in creating interactive exhibit elements and games that demonstrate the major themes covered by the workshop.
Please explore the links to see a full weeklong schedule (subject to change), recommended and required readings, and to learn more about the workshop’s presenters.

Staying in Boston

For lodging, The Constitution Inn has a block of rooms reserved for workshop participants. It is located a 5-minute walk away from the Museum, and in close proximity to Boston’s historic North End and downtown. Please visit the Housing and Meals page to learn more.
Public transportation to Boston and surrounding communities is readily available. Coffee and refreshment breaks will be provided each day, and participants will have ample time to purchase lunch from a number of eateries within walking distance of the Museum. For dinner and other meals, participants may choose from abundant local options including coffee shops, delis, restaurants, and taverns. A vibrant, thriving community, Boston is home to one of the richest collections of cultural institutions in the country, with hundreds of excellent museums, galleries, historic sites, world-class educational facilities, sports facilities, harbor trails, and parks.

The USS Constitution Museum

Located in the historic Charlestown Navy Yard and directly across from USS Constitution, the USS Constitution Museum offers workshop participants unmatched access to the history of “Old Ironsides” and to the stories of people associated with her. As the memory and educational voice of USS Constitution, the Museum ensures these stories remain relevant through engaging programs, compelling interactive exhibits, and the country’s largest and most comprehensive collection of Constitution-related material documenting every aspect of the Ship’s 215-year history, from construction and battles to her current role as America’s Ship of State.

Eligibility & Application Information

Full-time and part-time classroom teachers and librarians in public, charter, independent, and religiously affiliated schools, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to participate. Other K-12 school personnel, including administrators, substitute teachers, and classroom professionals, are also eligible to participate, subject to available space.
If you are interested in applying, please see the How to Apply page of this site for full instructions. Your completed application must be postmarked no later than March 4, 2013 and addressed as follows:
NEH Landmarks Workshop
Attn: Rebecca Crawford
PO Box 291812
Boston, MA 02129
Perhaps the most important part of the completed application is an essay of up to one double-spaced page that includes information about your professional background and interest in the War of 1812 and how the experience would enhance your teaching or school service. In addition, be sure to submit a letter of recommendation from the principal or department head of your school or the head of a home schooling association in support of your application.
If you are accepted into one of the workshops as an NEH Summer Scholar, you will receive a $1,200 stipend. This stipend is designed to help you cover the expenses of this workshop. It will be paid at the end of each workshop session and is taxable. 
All successful participants will leave the workshop with a continuing education certificate of completion so that you may seek the equivalent in your home state. In addition, the Museum is working with Framingham State University to offer up to three graduate school credits for $75/credit to those teachers who wish to pursue them. For Massachusetts teachers, the Museum will offer professional development points in accordance with the Massachusetts Department of Education. Please see the Stipend and Graduate Credit page for more information.
We hope that you will consider submitting an application for this wonderful opportunity. Please contact us if you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you.
Sarah Watkins                                                 Rebecca Crawford
Director of Collections & Learning                Manager of Academic & Family Programs
Contact Us:
swatkins@ussconstitutionmuseum.org or rcrawford@ussconstitutionmuseum.org

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.