An NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop hosted by the Spencer Museum of Art


An NEH Landmarks of American History of Culture Workshop

Join us as we explore the intricacies and legacies of attitudes toward race in America by engaging with people and places invested in keeping the histories of racial segregation and integration alive in today's classroom. 

Introduction to the Workshops

The Spencer Museum of Art invites you to visit historic sites, view works of art, and examine primary sources to better understand the history of racial discrimination in American education. To provide focus to this complex topic, our workshops will center on the educational experiences of Native Americans and African Americans in Kansas and will be guided by a diverse and engaging group of expert scholars, artists, and community leaders and activists.

Kansas provides ideal location for exploring the history of racial inequality in American education. As historian and keynote lecturer Kim Warren notes, Kansas “has long been at the geographic and ideological center of battles over freedom, citizenship, equality, and education.”1 In the 19th century, Kansas served as a crossroads for Indigenous communities, abolitionists, free African Americans, and Euro-American homesteaders. This diverse population led to the development of equally diverse educational systems, including mission, boarding, and residential schools for American Indians and segregated schools for African American students. We will explore these educational institutions by visiting fascinating historic sites in northeast Kansas, including:

  • Shawnee Indian Mission, a 12-acre National Historic Landmark that operated in the mid-1800s to provide academic and agricultural training to hundreds of American Indian students from more than twenty tribes, most of whom were forcibly removed from their tribes to attend;
  • Haskell Institute (as preserved on the campus of Haskell Indian Nations University), one of the first federally-funded boarding schools for Native American students in the United States;
  • Nicodemus, the only remaining all-African American settlement west of the Mississippi River that was founded in 1877 by “Exodusters,” the term used to describe the thousands of former slaves who migrated to Kansas from the south after Reconstruction;
  • Sumner High School, the first segregated high school in Kansas, which operated as an all-Black school from 1905-1978;

In addition to engaging with historic sites, we will be using rich archival and artistic collections at the Spencer Museum of Art, the Spencer Research Library, and the Black Archives of Mid-America to inform our workshops. All of these resources foreground the lived experiences and Native American and African American students and their families so we can appreciate how these often marginalized and underrepresented voices complicate and enrich idealized notions of United States history.

Chronologically, our workshops will concentrate on a period from about 1830-1960. This period begins with the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which led to the resettlement, typically by force and mandate, of Native Americans from east of the Mississippi River into the newly formed “Indian Territory” to the west. This massive relocation effort led to death of thousands of American Indians and laid the groundwork for the “civilizing” missions of religious and government officials, culminating with Captian Richard H. Pratt’s now-famous 1892 mandate to “Kill the Indian, and Save the Man.” We will culminate our workshops by discussing the landmark Brown v. Board of Education court case and its immediate aftermath, which fed the Civil Rights Movement. 

Please use the links at the top of the page to learn more about the workshops. We hope to see you in Lawrence, Kansas this summer!

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

The application deadline for 2017 workshops has passed

How to Apply

Please review the eligibility criteria for participation in Landmarks workshops here.

Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops provide K-12 educators with the opportunity to engage in intensive study and discussion of important topics and issues in American history and culture, while providing them with direct experiences in the interpretation of significant historical and cultural sites and the use of archival and other primary evidence. 

Prior to completing an application to a specific workshop, please review the project website and consider carefully what is expected in terms of residence and attendance, reading and writing requirements, and general participation in the work of the project.

NEH Landmarks workshops involve teachers in collaboration with core faculty and visiting scholars to study the best available scholarship on a specific landmark or cluster of landmarks. Workshops, offered twice in one summer, accommodate 36 teachers in each one-week session. Participants benefit by gaining a sense of the importance of historical and cultural places, by making connections between the workshop content and what they teach, and by developing individual teaching and/or research materials.

Please Note: An individual may apply to up to two NEH summer projects (NEH Landmarks Workshops, NEH Summer Seminars, or NEH Summer Institutes), but may participate in only one

New This Year for Landmarks

Workshop options: Some Landmarks workshops, including this one,welcome both residential scholars (who require accommodation for the duration of the workshop) as well as commuting scholars who are able to drive to and from the program each day (no housing option available). 

Stipend provisions: Only those participants who incur housing costs in a residential workshop week will receive a stipend of $1,200. All commuting participants who incur no housing costs will receive a stipend of $600.


Dates of Workshop Sessions

Session I: June 18-24, 2017 

Session II: July 9-15, 2017

Contact Information

Cassandra Mesick Braun, Project Co-Director: | 785-864-6794

Celka StraughnProject Co-Director: | 785-864-0136

Sydney PurselProject Intern: | 785-864-5253

The University of Kansas
Spencer Museum of Art
1301 Mississippi Street
Lawrence, KS 66045  | 785-864-4710

Spencer Museum of Art University of Kansas

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
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Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
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