Programs > K-12 Programs > Teaching American History > Preserving Our Democracy > Preserving Our Democracy Courses, Seminars, Institutes

2008 Summer Institutes

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" Speech
Led by Manisha Sinha, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
June 23-27, 2008
Held at the American Antiquarian Society

This institute will explore the long struggle for black equality in the United States. We will first examine the centrality of slavery in the early American republic and the abolitionist battle against it. We will then trace how the politicization of the slavery issue caused the Civil War and the debates over emancipation, race and black rights during the war and Reconstruction. The second half of the institute will focus on the overthrow of Reconstruction and the renewed African American struggle for citizenship and equality in a period of disfranchisement, segregation and racial violence. We will unearth the roots of the civil rights struggle during this period and then discuss the emergence of the movement, its achievements and shortcomings. The institute will thus cover a central aspect of American history, the continuing battle for African American citizenship and the creation of an interracial democracy in the United States.

The Declaration of Independence
Led by Dr. William Fowler, Northeastern University
August 11-15, 2008
Held at the American Antiquarian Society

This institute will explore the Declaration of Independence in its contemporary context and in conversation with Americans across the history of the country. Participants will trace the precursors of the document and its influence throughout American history. Where did the ideas reflected in the Declaration come from? What are the relationships between the Declaration of Independence and each generation of Americans? How has it been interpreted and reinterpreted by people at different times? Participants will read a wide range of primary source documents in order to find answers to these questions, as well as materials from relevant historians.


For application materials, please contact Amy Sopcak-Joseph at (508) 471-2129 or asopcak[at]


Participants will earn 3 graduate credits for each summer institute. The cost of graduate credits and books are provided by the Teaching American History grant. Participants will be expected to complete assigned readings, participate during the entire week of the program, and complete a final project.

For more information, contact:
Amy Lynn Sopcak-Joseph
Education Coordinator
American Antiquarian Society
Worcester, MA 01609