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Progress and Poverty:
The Gilded Age in American Politics and Literature, 1877-1901

'progress and poverty' is funded by a national endowment for the humanities 'we the people' grand.

A National Endowment for the Humanities
Landmarks of American History and Culture workshop
for Community College Faculty

May 16-21 or May 23-28, 2010

  • Examine the crucial social, political, and economic issues of the Gilded Age through the eyes of its key reformers, social critics, and utopians. Presentations by scholars – Dr. Rebecca Edwards, Dr. Brooks D. Simpson, Dr. Timothy Messer-Kruse, Dr. Robert Fogarty, Dr. Sanford Marovitz, and Dr. Michael J. Kiskis.
  • Tours of the Hayes Presidential Center Library, Museum, Home and Grounds.
  • Research in the nation's first presidential library's rich collection of Gilded Age literature, manuscripts and materials
  • $1200 stipend and some travel assistance
  • Application deadline is March 2, 2010

Click here for further information

Comments from 2009 NEH workshop participants:

“This workshop was a Tour de Force of a program. One of the most insightful and rich intellectual experiences of my career”

“This is what an NEH Landmark Grant should do”

“The Hayes Center is a really undiscovered jewel for the study and research of United States history”

“One of the most remarkable weeks I had the pleasure to experience”

“The program at the Hayes Center should be the benchmark for other NEH and scholarly conferences”

Contacts :

Project Director – Steven L. Culbertson

or Becky Hill

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center
Spiegel Grove
Fremont, Ohio 43420

Progress and Poverty - Tentative workshop schedule

Sunday : Welcoming reception – Fremont Ohio

Monday: Introduction to the Gilded Age
Dr. Rebecca Edwards provides an overview of the Gilded Age.
Dr. Brooks Simpson examines the role of Henry Adams and other critics in shaping and misshaping perceptions of the Gilded Age.
Small group breakouts - Tour of the Hayes Museum, Library and Archives, and discussions with Dr. Edwards and Simpson.
Evening – Primary-source research with the Hayes Presidential Center staff in the Library and/or tour of historic Fremont, Ohio.

Tuesday: Politics and Economics
Dr. Edwards examines electoral politics and economic developments in the post-Civil War era, focusing on the South and the West, along with Lucy Hayes’ association with the WCTU.
Dr. Simpson’s presentation will focus on the role of Henry George and his key work, Progress and Poverty, as well as Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward 2000-1887 in shaping the movement toward political, social, and economic reform. Hayes Executive Director, Thomas Culbertson, discusses Hayes’ attititudes toward the rights of labor and his hopes for the post-war South.
Small group breakouts – Research time in the library and discussions with Drs. Edwards and Simpson.
Evening – Walking tour of the Spiegel Grove, Hayes’ extensively wooded estate.

Wednesday: Capital and Labor
Dr. Messer-Kruse leads a discussion of capital and labor in the Gilded Age.
Dr. Fogarty examines practical and utopian reactions to the conflict between employers and laborers in the writings of Henry George and Edward Bellamy.
Small group breakouts - Tours of the Hayes Home, discussion of Hayes Center manuscripts, including copies of correspondence and manuscripts of W. D. Howells and discussions with Drs. Fogarty and Messer-Kruse.
Evening - An optional demonstration of Edison phonographs and recordings presented by Steven Culbertson.

Thursday: Realism and Utopianism in American Literature: Howells and Twain
Dr. Steven Culbertson offers a brief analysis of Hayes’ interactions with William Dean Howells and Mark Twain.
Dr. Sanford Marovitz - “The All-Seeing Eye of W. D. Howells: 1885-1895”.
Dr. Michael J. Kiskis explores the intersection of Mark Twain’s life with the larger questions of progress and poverty in mid-nineteenth century America.
Small group breakouts - Gilbert Gonzalez, Head of Photographic Resources, presents a workshop on images from the Center’s collection, discussions with Dr. Marovitz and Kiskis, and research in the Library.
Evening – Primary-source research with the Hayes Presidential Center staff in the Library and/or tour of historic Fremont, Ohio.

Friday: Case Study – American Realism and Utopianism
Drs. Marovitz and Kiskis continue their investigation of late nineteenth-century realism and utopianism. Participants present preliminary project findings to the group.