Early American Women’s History: Teaching from within the Archives
NEH Summer Institute for College and University Teachers

Newell D. Goff Center for Education and Public Programs at the Rhode Island Historical Society
Community College of Rhode Island

July 20 – July 31, 2015

Application Deadline: March 2, 2015
(Notification by March 30, 2015)


Scope of the Institute:

We are delighted that you are considering coming to Providence, RI, for our summer institute entitled “Early American Women’s History: Teaching from within the Archives.”  The Newell D. Goff Center for Education and Public Programs at the Rhode Island Historical Society, in partnership with the Community College of Rhode Island, will offer this institute for community-college teachers, which will run from July 20 – July 31, 2015.  The institute will explore the subject of access through three lines of inquiry: women’s struggles to access particular social, civic or legal arenas in early New England life; our struggles and successes as researchers to access, recover, and contextualize the voices of marginalized women; and 21st-century students’ difficulty in accessing the primary sources that tell the stories of these women in libraries and archives.

Through lectures, hands-on activities and research at libraries and archives in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the proposed institute seeks to achieve three primary goals: 1:)  to trace early American women’s access into the milieus which sought to deny them a voice or participation; 2:) to address the practical concerns of community-college faculty in history and literary studies in using libraries and archives with their students while establishing best practices for doing so effectively; and 3:) to explore successful models of collaboration with local libraries, archives, and historic sites to facilitate student access to primary-source research and engagement.

Institute Directors and Location:

We would like to introduce ourselves as the co-director of the institute.  We are Elyssa Tardif, Ph.D., Director of the Newell D. Goff Center for Education and Public Programs at the Rhode Island Historical Society and Suzanne McCormack, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History at the Community College of Rhode Island. Our institute will be hosted at the Rhode Island Historical Society (RIHS), with some sessions at the Providence Public Library (PPL) and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), all within walking distance of the participants’ residence in downtown apartments owned by RISD.



We hope to have a fascinating mix of professionals participating in this Institute. For that reason, we welcome a wide variety of qualifications.  We will prioritize applications from community-college faculty in History and English departments, although exceptional faculty from 4-year colleges will be considered.  We will also accept up to three graduate students.  The selection committee will follow the general eligibility guidelines and selection criteria provided by the NEH (please see the link below), and it will also consider the applicant’s teaching experience, writing and organizational skills, and willingness to act as a resource to other faculty members in his/her community.

College University Eligibility Criteria

Project Schedule & Assignments:
Click here to access the institute schedule.

As archival collections are increasingly digitized and made available online, many users will interact with a primary-source record without necessarily encountering a finding aid first (if at all). Thus, faculty must work closely with librarians and archivists at their institutions to provide this instruction for their students if they are truly going to be able to use, not just locate, primary-source materials.  To this end, during this institute, we will share and refine strategies for gleaning information from the kinds of records more commonly encountered in physical and digital archives and compile a collective manual of best practices for collaborating with local libraries, archives, and historic sites to facilitate student access to primary-source materials.

Housing will be provided for participants at the beautiful, historic 15 West, which is part of the campus of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) at 15 Westminster Street in downtown Providence.  The 15 West apartments are air-conditioned.  The cost to stay in the 15 West apartments is $750.00 from July 19th – July 31st. This cost includes linens (a thermal blanket, 4 sets of sheets, 2 pillowcases, 4 bath towels, 4 face cloths). If you wish to arrive a night before or stay a day late, you may do so at an additional fee of $60.00 per night.



Kitchen and Common Room
Kitchen and Common Room


Applicants selected to participate as NEH Summer Scholars in two-week projects will receive $2,100. Stipends are intended to help cover travel expenses to and from the project location, research expenses, and “ordinary” living expenses (housing and food). Stipends are taxable. The first check (1/2 of the stipend) will be waiting for participants when they arrive. The second check will come in the second half of the project.  Applicants to all projects should note that supplements will not be given in cases where the stipend is insufficient to cover all expenses. We suggest you apply for supplemental outside funding from school districts, unions, professional organizations, or the like.


How to Apply:

1. Application Cover Sheet
The application cover sheet must be filled out online at this address: https://securegrants.neh.gov/education/participants/

Please follow the prompts. Before you click the “submit” button, print out the cover sheet or save a copy as a PDF file. (You will need to add this to your application package by saving or scanning the printed copy as a PDF and combining it electronically with the rest of your application.) Then click “submit.” At this point you will be asked if you want to fill out a cover sheet for another project. If you do, follow the prompts to select the other project and repeat the process.

[Note that filling out a cover sheet is not the same as applying, so there is no penalty for changing your mind and filling out a cover sheet for several projects. A full application consists of the items listed above, as sent to the project director.]

You must submit a separate cover sheet online for each project to which you are applying in order to generate a unique tracking number for each application. Do not copy and paste a new cover sheet.

The most important part of the application is the essay of no more than four double spaced pages. This essay should include your reasons for applying to the specific project; your relevant personal and academic information; your qualifications to do the work of the project and make a contribution to it; what you hope to accomplish; and the relation of the study to your teaching.

2. Résumé or brief biography with contact information for two professional references

Please include a résumé or brief biography detailing your educational qualifications and professional experience. Be sure the résumé provides the name, title, phone number, and email address of two professional references.

3. Application Essay

The application essay should be no more than four double-spaced pages in 12-point font. It should address reasons for applying; the applicant’s interest, both academic and personal, in the subject to be studied; qualifications and experiences that equip the applicant to do the work of the seminar or institute and to make a contribution to a learning community; a statement of what the applicant wants to accomplish by participating; and the relation of the project to the applicant’s professional responsibilities.

Please send your résumé (with accompanying references), application essay, and a copy of your application cover sheet to:

Elyssa Tardif, Ph.D.
Director, Newell D. Goff Center for Education and Public Programs
Rhode Island Historical Society

Application materials can be sent via email (preferred method): etardif@rihs.org

or as hard copies to:

110 Benevolent Street
Providence, RI 02906

Contact Us:

Elyssa Tardif: (401) 331-8575 x145, etardif@rihs.org
Suzanne McCormack: (401) 333-7294, smccormack@ccri.edu


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