K-12 Teacher Institute: Historic Children’s Voices


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

This five-day summer institute for school educators in social studies and language arts will take place at the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The Historic Children’s Voices teacher institute includes hands-on workshops using not only AAS’s unparalleled collection of early American books for children, but also its surprising and fascinating collection of children’s own writings from the colonial period through the 19th century. Looking at books children read, coupled with their own productions, offers an unusually intimate and immediate connection to literacy goals and practices of the past. Participants will explore diaries and letters in which children record the details of their daily lives, as well as stories and poems that display their imaginative engagement with the world around them. The large amateur newspaper collection—most printed on home parlor presses—demonstrates young people’s sophisticated understanding of media norms and social and political concerns of their times.

This institute corresponds with the launch of AAS’s new Historic Children’s Voices website, which makes these unique child-authored materials easily accessible in classrooms everywhere. These little-studied, now easily available materials are sure to delight and inspire teachers and the young people in their classrooms, and to support their thinking about the value of children’s perspectives and the empowering of children’s voices in the past and today.

The workshop format aims to foster engagement with primary sources in original and digitized form. The week will be structured to consider the value of these materials for meeting current history and language arts curricular objectives and pedagogical best practices, with particular attention given to diversity, equity, and inclusion; social and emotional learning; and experiential learning. There will be a field trip to Lowell National Historical Park. Institute participants will create curricular materials for use in their own classrooms and to share on the Historic Children’s Voices website for use by teachers nationwide.

The lead instructor is Karen Sánchez-Eppler, L. Stanton Williams '41 Professor of American Studies and English, Amherst College. The teacher facilitator is Allison Bass-Ricco, Teacher and Department Chair of English, Cheshire Academy, CT.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500 and a travel allowance of $1,000. Lodging and some meals will be provided.

A complete application consists of the following items:

  1. The Online Application Form

    Once you have filled out the AAS online application form, you will be directed to provide attachments for your résumé or brief biography and application essay.

  2. A Résumé or Brief Biography

    Please include a résumé (up to 2 pages) or brief biography detailing your educational qualifications and professional experience.

  3. The Application Essay

    The application essay should be no more than two double-spaced pages. It should address your reasons for applying; your interest in the subject to be studied; the qualifications and experiences that equip you to do the work of the institute and to make a contribution to a learning community; what you want to accomplish by participating; and the relation of the project to your professional responsibilities.


Online applications are due March 22, 2024. Notifications will go out by April 22, 2024 Accepted applications will have until April 30, 2024, to accept or decline the offer.

Seminar Leader

Karen Sánchez-Eppler is L. Stanton Williams 1941 Professor of American Studies and English at Amherst College, and was the 2020 Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the American Antiquarian Society. She was elected to AAS membership in 2005. Dr. Sanchez-Eppler is the author of Touching Liberty: Abolition, Feminism, and the Politics of the Body (1993) and Dependent States: The Child’s Part in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (2005). She is co-editor with Cristanne Miller of The Oxford Handbook of Emily Dickinson (2022). She is one of the founding coeditors of the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth and past president of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. She is president of the board of the Porter-Phelps Huntington Museum in Hadley, Massachusetts.