The Rochester Reform Trail, NEH Workshops


Since the application deadline for the Rochester Reform Trail workshops is approaching (March 4), I thought it might be timely to write up another post about this opportunity for k-12 funded professional development, and at the same time showcase some of the local Rochester landmarks that will be featured in the workshops.

First off, for anyone that missed the first post, (or has yet to see the website), here is a brief description of what the Rochester Reform Trail actually is.

The Rochester Reform Trail is a National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop for School Teachers. In the summer of 2014 this NEH Landmarks Workshop will bring together school teachers, public historians, and scholarly experts for two week long programs focusing on Rochester’s iconic 19th century technological, economic and reform landmarks.

By combining site visits with scholarly sessions on Rochester reformers, the workshop hopes to illuminate several broader themes: the economic and technological changes that shaped the mindset, worldviews and everyday experiences of 19th century American reformers; the role that religion played in expanding reform movements; and the impact of African Americans and women on reform culture and American society both before and after the Civil War. Rochester has an unrivaled collection of 19th century technological and reform landmarks; this workshop hopes to highlight their importance to American society as a whole. Hope you will join us!

One of the great benefits of this particular series of NEH culture and landmarks workshops (see all here) is the funding opportunity. Interested applicants from all across the country can apply. Teachers selected to participate will receive a stipend of $1,200 at the end of the residential workshop session. Stipends are intended to help cover travel expenses to and from the project location, books, and ordinary living expenses. Stipends are taxable. Learn more about stipends, applications, and eligibility here.

The Rochester Reform Trail is also on Facebook and Twitter – both present great opportunities for interested individuals to follow along with the progress of the workshops, send questions directly to the administrators, receive daily tidbits of Rochester area history, and learn more about the workshops in the coming months.

Like the Rochester Reform Trail on Facebook
Follow the Rochester Reform Trail on Twitter

Now to take a look at some of the landmarks that will be the focus of the Summer 2014 workshops!  Below is a schedule of landmark locations, readings and speakers for the workshops.


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)

“Many impressive feats in engineering could be seen along the length of the canal, but perhaps none was more remarkable than the stone Aqueduct which carried the canal over the Genesee River. During the summer of 1821, William Britton of Geddes, New York, was hired to direct the building of the massive Aqueduct project. His credentials included erecting the substantial stone walls surrounding the State Prison in Auburn, New York.  When the flood waters arrived in the spring of 1822, the stone foundations that Britton and his crew had laid were washed away and carried downstream. The mighty waters of the Genesee River proved too strong for man to tame, and it was obvious that the builders needed a stronger construction.” (source)


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

“The Erie Canal provided a safe and reliable route for trade and migrants via line boats (primarily freight carriers) and more passenger-friendly packet boats like Corn Hill Navigation’s Sam Patch. Offering meals and sleeping arrangements, packet boats were primarily passenger carriers. Like other canal boats, they were propelled by horses or mules attached by towropes to the vessels, and led by drivers along the towpath. They were the fastest way to travel the canal, often exceeding the 4 mph speed limit!

Sam Patch, built by Mid-Lakes Navigation in 1991 for Corn Hill Navigation founder Ted Curtis, is a replica of an Erie Canal packet boat. Long and narrow to accommodate the constricted dimensions of the early canal, Sam Patch features an enclosed main cabin and an open air bow. Sam Patch is named for the colorful daredevil who jumped Rochester’s Genesee Falls in November of 1829. Although Patch had twice jumped Niagara Falls and survived, he failed to surface after leaping 97 ft. to the base of the Genesee Falls. His body was recovered at the mouth of the Genesee River the following spring and buried in nearby Charlotte, NY.” (source)

Frederick Douglass’s Life and Work in Rochester
Landmark Sites: Talman Building; Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony grave sites, 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)

“Dedicated in 1838 in Rochester NY, Mount Hope is America’s first municipal Victorian cemetery. Set in a picturesque landscape shaped by retreating glaciers, the cemetery features 82 mausoleums, soaring Egyptian obelisks, winged angels of mercy, a Florentine cast-iron fountain, two stone chapels in Gothic Revival style, a Moorish gazebo, and infinitely varied tombstones marking 350,000 graves across 196 acres.” (source)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton House

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)

“Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) called her house at 32 Washington Street, Seneca Falls “Grassmere” and the “Center of the Rebellion.” She moved into the home with her husband and three sons in May 1847. In June her father Daniel Cady deeded the property to his daughter Elizabeth. Over the next fourteen years, the family welcomed two more sons and two daughters. The entire family enjoyed the large farm house, its several out buildings, orchards, and gardens until Elizabeth Cady Stanton sold the property in 1862 and the family of nine moved to New York, New York.” (source)


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)

“The National Susan B. Anthony Musuem & House was the home of the legendary American civil rights leader during the 40 most politically active years of her life, and the site of her famous arrest for voting in 1872. This home was the headquarters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association when she was its president. This is also where she died in 1906 at age 86, following her “Failure is Impossible” speech in Baltimore.” (source)

Again, for any interested applicants – the deadline for the Rochester Reform Trail Workshops is March 4, 2014. For more information on how to apply, see the application/edibility instructions on the website here. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more news, Rochester Reform history, and more information about the upcoming workshops!


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