We invite you to participate in The Visual Culture of Colonial New England, a four-week-long summer institute based in Salem, Massachusetts, to be held July 10-August 4, 2006. An historic seaside community located approximately 16 miles north of Boston, Salem is the ideal location to study colonial art and culture.  Salem, the surrounding towns on the North Shore of Massachusetts, and Boston are home to unparalleled resources—archaeological sites, art, architecture, decorative arts, prints, illustrated books, carved gravestones, manuscript collections, and many other types of material objects.

 Although most people associate Salem solely with the 1692 witch trials, there is much more to the city’s history and culture.  Salem was one of the most important cities in the colonies and the new nation, from its days as one of the earliest landing sites of the English colonists, to its rise as the first major port in the United States, to its trailblazing efforts in opening up the Caribbean and East Indies trade, to its heyday as a thriving hub of American commerce and the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne.  

The Visual Culture of Colonial New England is organized thematically.  The institute is divided into four units: the built environment, the visual culture of the sea, the visual culture of religion and education, and domestic interiors.  This structure allows us to look across the diversity of New Englanders to see the contributions of those of European, Native American, and African descent.  It incorporates a variety of media, from archaeology to painting.  The topical approach also allows participants to integrate the institute’s content more easily when teaching their own state’s frameworks.

Through lectures and discussions, shared investigations of primary sources, guided tours of historic houses and museum galleries, and a harbor tour on a replica privateer, The Visual Culture of Colonial New England will introduce participants to Salem's unique resources.  Salem State College will serve as the home base for the week, with the entire city as the workshop's classroom. The Derby Street Historic District, prominent in maritime history from the mid-seventeenth century, includes the House of the Seven Gables and Salem Maritime National Historic Site, comprised of three original historic wharves, a replica of the tall ship Friendship, and Hawthorne’s famous Custom House.  The distinctive McIntire Historic District contains more than 300 historic structures, ranging from modest 17th century “first period” homes to magnificent Federal period sea captains' houses.  The Peabody Essex Museum focuses on maritime history, American architecture and decorative arts, textiles and clothing, Native American art, African art, and Asian export art.

Participants will tour significant archeological sites on the North Shore of Massachusetts, including the sites associated with the witch trials in Danvers and the reconstruction of the first iron works in Saugus.  In addition, institute participants will study key works of colonial visual culture at other New England locations including Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the African-American meeting house, Paul Revere House, Massachusetts Historical Society, and Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Teachers will have opportunities for individual study of letters, diaries, newspapers, paintings, photographs, textiles, decorative arts and other primary sources in the Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum and Boston research libraries and archives. As we examine the workshop's texts and visit the varied sites, we will exchange ideas on how to incorporate the study of visual culture into your classroom.

The institute’s multidisciplinary approach will benefit teachers of American history, literature, art, geography, social studies, American studies, and other fields.  The four-week institute will accommodate twenty-five K-12 educators from across the country. Participants will receive a $3000 stipend to offset travel and living costs. Participants will have the option of staying in Salem State College's state-of-the-art residence hall.  This complex, opened in 2004, features an on-site fitness center and laundry facilities, and it is within a minute's walk from the workshop's meeting rooms and computer labs.  The cost for a single room is $35 per night; a double room is $30 per person per night.  Institute participants who elect not to stay in the residence hall should contact local hotels and bed-and-breakfasts (many of which are listed on our website) as soon as possible, since Salem is a popular and relatively expensive summer tourist destination.  During the institute, all participants will have access to the resources of the Salem State College library and to the special collections of resources created for this project.

The Visual Culture of Colonial New England’s faculty reinforces the program's multidisciplinary approach and commitment to increasing participants' content knowledge and pedagogy.  In addition to the project director, art historian Dr. Patricia Johnston, the faculty for the workshop includes historians, literary scholars, archaeologists, geographers, museum curators, and art and architectural historians, who have researched and written extensively about issues in colonial history and visual culture. The faculty and curators are augmented by pedagogical specialists—master teachers, museum educators, and media specialists, who will assist you with developing your own unit plans.  More information about each of them is available on our website.

For actively participating in and completing The Visual Culture of Colonial New England, participants will receive professional development points (PDPs or CEUs) according the guidelines of their own school districts.  We will provide you with a letter to take to your superintendent, who will then award credit.  Participants can also choose to earn graduate credit in art history, history, or American Studies from Salem State College. Those who choose this option may register for the course and pay tuition on site.  For graduate credit, participants will complete either a research paper or a proposed unit plan.

To apply to attend The Visual Culture of Colonial New England you must complete the online cover sheet located at http://www.neh.gov/online/education/participants/. You should then print out the form and mail three copies of it, along with three copies of your resume and application essay (as outlined on the project website under "Applicant Information and Instructions"). Please send all in triplicate to:

Pamela Poppe
Art Department MH314
Salem State College
352 Lafayette Street
Salem, MA 01970

We also require two letters of recommendation in support of your application. Please note that all applications must be postmarked by March 1, 2006 to guarantee consideration.

Please consult other pages on this website for more detailed information about the schedule of events, the qualifications of participating faculty, accommodations and travel, graduate credit, and the abundant local cultural resources available in Salem and in nearby Boston. You can direct any additional questions you have to our administrator, Pamela Poppe, either by phone 978-542-7225, or email ppoppe@salemstate.edu.

We look forward to meeting you and exploring colonial art and history with you.


Patricia Johnston
Professor of Art History