Director's Letter

Session 1: July 16-22, 2017

Session 2: July 23-29, 2017

Director: Jose R. Torre

Dear Colleague,

Welcome to the Rochester Reform Trail website! Thanks for your interest in our National Endowment of the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop hosted by the College at Brockport, State University of New York, and the State University of New York Research Foundation. We are hosting two week-long workshops in July of 2017. We hope you will apply to join us in Rochester, New York, for a landmark exploration of the reform movement.

In the early nineteenth century Rochester was at the center of a national effort to reform American society. Confident in their ability to harness the industrial power of the Genesee River and the technological marvels of the Erie Canal, Rochester citizens embraced an ideology of progress. Organizing to overcome the many social and domestic problems that derived from the industrial and transportation revolutions, Rochester's citizens soon tackled national issues like slavery and women's rights. National figures like Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass and Charles Finney made Rochester their home, and turned the frontier boomtown into a hotbed of progressive thought and action. Working alongside nearby leaders like Elizabeth Cady Stanton of Seneca Falls, they led the nation in the battle against long-entrenched notions of racial and gender inferiority. More than 150 years later Rochester's landscape is still marked by their efforts; walking along the streets of Rochester you will come across their historic homes, or wander through an aqueduct which long ago transported them even as it transformed their world. Douglass and Anthony rest here still, buried not far from each other in Mt. Hope Cemetery. The workshop explores their efforts to reform American society through visits to landmark reform sites, brief talks and seminar discussions with scholarly experts, and readings.

NEH Summer Scholars chosen from the applicant pool will be awarded a $1200 stipend to defray travel and accommodation costs. The Director has arranged for a block of rooms at a discounted rate for NEH Summer Scholars at the downtown Holiday Inn in Rochester. The seminars will meet at the Strong Museum of Play, one of the nation’s most interactive and experiential museums. I hope you will be able to join us in Rochester for the summer of 2017!

Please note that the NEH has changed the stipend policy for 2017. NEH Summer Scholars who do not pay for their accommodations will receive a stipend of $600. NEH Summer Scholars who stay at the Holiday Inn or other paid accommodations will receive a stipend of $1200. Summer Scholars should keep the receipts related to their accommodations during their stay in Rochester.

Below are some more details about the workshop and how to apply but if you have any questions please contact me at Hope to hear from you soon!


The workshop combines landmark site visits with brief talks by renowned experts, seminar discussion, readings and other presentations. Presentations and discussions of the readings will usually take up the first part of our daily meetings; on most days, visits to landmarks key to the reform movement will take place in the afternoon. These visits include the Broad Street Aqueduct, the Erie Canal, the Susan B. Anthony House, Mount Hope Cemetery, the Seneca Falls National Women's Rights National Historical Park and the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House. The readings for the workshop will be available online as pdf files or as photocopies sent by mail.

To provide a scholarly context through which we might understand the reform movement and landmarks, some of the nation's leading scholars of reform culture and history will lead the workshop in discussion. Speakers for the seminar are: Erik Seeman, Professor of History at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York; Alison Parker, Professor of History at the College at Brockport, State University of New York; Carol Faulkner, Associate Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Syracuse University; and Richard Newman, Professor of History at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The workshop director is Jose R. Torre, Associate Professor of History at the College at Brockport, State University of New York. Erik Seeman focuses on religion in early American history and is the author of several important books, including Pious Persuasions, which examines the rise of religious revivalism in and beyond New England; Alison Parker is a leading scholar of 19th century women's rights activism and the author of several books, including Articulating Rights: Nineteenth-century American Women on Race, Reform and the State; Carol Faulkner is a renowned scholar of women's rights reformers and the author or editor of several books, including Lucretia Mott's Heresy. Richard Newman has written extensively on abolition, including The Transformation of American Abolitionism, and a biography of Richard Allen, Freedom's Prophet. The director, Jose R. Torre, is the author The Political Economy of Sentiment, which examines economic and cultural change in early national Boston. He also edited a four-volume anthology, The Enlightenment in America, 1720-1825. He has previously participated in a USDE Teaching American History grant with Rochester area schoolteachers and administrators. In 2011 and 2014, 2015, and 2016 he directed a version of the Rochester Reform Trail National Endowment of the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop. The workshop will also have a master teacher from Strong Museum, Sara Shaw, who has an M.S. in teaching and has led an Advanced Placement Conference on American History at Strong Museum for over a decade. Having worked with K-12 teachers in a variety of settings, from their own schools to museums, she will offer insights on ways to bring Rochester Reform History into teachers' classrooms.

All of the workshop discussion leaders have educational outreach experience in a variety of settings. This includes directing workshops for the NEH, lecturing for the Department of Education, and working with the National Park Service. They have devoted a significant amount of time to the development of historical analysis for teachers, students and a broader public.

Workshop Schedule:

Our week will begin on Sunday with a light dinner and reception at the Hyatt Hotel where a number of rooms have been blocked for NEH summer scholars. Over dinner we will introduce ourselves and talk about the schedule and other arrangements, as well as discuss out mutual goals and expectations.

Over the week there will be five landmark site visits combined with scholarly talks and seminar-style discussions. All the sites have been designated as National Historical Landmarks and/or are listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Below is an abbreviated schedule of our week. Please see the Schedule for a full discussion of day-by-day events and themes.

Monday:  The Industrial Revolution in Rochester
Landmark Sites: Broad Street Aqueduct and High Falls archaeological site.
Tour Leader: Thomas Hack, City of Rochester Chief Structural Engineer
Speaker: Workshop Director, Jose R. Torre (College at Brockport, SUNY)

Tuesday:  The Second Great Awakening in Rochester
Landmark Site: Packet boat trip along the Erie Canal.
Leader: Captain of the boat The Mary Jameson
Speaker: Professor Erik Seeman (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

Wednesday:  Frederick Douglass's Life and Work in Rochester
Landmark Sites: Talman Building; Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony gravesites, Mount Hope Cemetery; Frederick Douglass Project, Rush Rees Library, University of Rochester.
Leaders: Workshop Director and Rush Rees Library faculty.
Speaker: Professor Richard Newman (Rochester Institute of Technology)

Thursday:  Women's Activism in the Rochester Region
Landmark sites: Seneca Falls National Women's Rights National Historical Park and the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Home
Leaders: National Park Service Historical Guides
Speaker: Associate Professor Carol Faulkner (Syracuse University)

Friday:  Susan B. Anthony and the Fifteenth Amendment
Landmark Site: The Susan B. Anthony House and Historic Neighborhood
Leader: Susan B. Anthony Hour Tour Guides
Speaker: Professor Alison Parker (The College at Brockport, SUNY)

Saturday morning we will meet for breakfast and a light lunch while we discuss our experiences over the week. NEH summer scholars will be asked to contemplate and discuss how the workshop will affect their teaching.


Please see the Schedule for a full discussion of the themes and events covered on a daily basis.


Our daily meetings will be held at the Strong National Museum of Play. The director has made all transportation and site visit arrangements for Landmark tours. Arrangements have also been made with the Holiday Inn Hotel to hold a number of rooms at a discounted rate for NEH Summer Scholars. Please see Accommodations for more details.

Eligibility and Application Instructions:

The workshops are designed principally for classroom teachers and librarians in public, private, parochial and charter schools, as well as home schooling parents. Other K-12 school personel, including administrators, substitute teachers and classroom professionals are eligible to participate, subject to available space.

Please see Eligibility and Application Instructions for a full discussion of eligibility, selection criteria, the stimpend and conditions of the award, as well as full application instructions and other important workshop information.

Please contact me at with any questions. Hope to see you in Rochester!

Jose R. Torre
Associate Professor of History
College at Brockport, State University of New York

2017 Director's Letter PDF