Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, HSP spearheaded a weeklong teacher institute about Independence Hall as a landmark for teaching U.S. history – and not just July 4, 1776. That holiday, which we are celebrating now, may be the moment most people associate with the Hall, but the principles embodied in the Declaration signed there permeated events for the next 200 years.
Thirty-four teachers from across the country were chosen competitively to participate in the intense professional development experience, entitled "Cultures of Independence." They heard scholars speak on subjects that illustrated the development of the Hall overtime such as how the Hall was designed in the British tradition, and why the building became a symbol in the freedom struggles for African Americans. They toured historic sites around Independence Mall, including a special trip up the clock tower of the Hall, and they researched in the archives here at HSP, where the original 1732 hand-drawn plan of the Hall is preserved.
The teachers have now returned to Louisiana, Oregon, Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia, and many other states, prepared to integrate what they learned into their curriculum. Besides the obvious early American history, they are considering how to teach with their local landmarks as a way of helping students connect local history to national trends. You all will benefit when their plans are posted on our website this fall.
NEH funding for the workshop was supplemented by funds from the Independence National Historical Park and Wells Fargo. The workshop was designed and implemented with our wonderful partners from Independence National Historical Park, the National Constitution Center, the National Archives in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia History Museum, and the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia.