Summer Institute 2012

Made possible with the generous support of our funders: Teaching American History (a program of the US Dept. of Education), New Hampshire Council for the Social Studies, and the Vermont Humanities Council

“Vermont will do its full duty” was the reply Governor Erastus Fairbanks gave to Abraham Lincoln when asked what might be expected of Vermont. This week we will ask what “full duty” meant to the people in our region as we investigate the Civil War.


The Civil War is a crucial episode in American history. One hundred and fifty years later, the war still surrounds us. It is hiding in plain sight across the Upper Valley in cemeteries, villages, parks, public art, and historic sites. Throughout the week we invite you to ask questions, examine evidence, listen to the many voices from the Civil War era, and find those stories that are hidden away in the landscape. We challenge you to embark on your own historical inquiry and share new insights and understandings with your colleagues as we examine the question: What did “full duty” mean to people in our region?

In 1861 the U.S. Army consisted of only about 14,000 men. By the end of the war millions of men had fought. We’ll investigate what it took to raise an army and how our communities did their part. We’ll hear the amazing story of how one small town (Windsor) armed the Union.

The Civil War transformed the lives of all who were swept up in it—whether on the battlefield, at home, or in the factory. We’ll investigate life on the home front, both on the farm and in the factory. We’ll think about the battlefield experiences of our local soldiers.

The Civil War’s impact was far-reaching. Leaders in Strafford and Woodstock were involved in diplomatic discussions around the world and legislative acts that transformed the West. We’ll look at some powerful symbols of those actions—symbols that reside right in our communities.

The Civil War became a war for human freedom. We’ll consider the experience of one enslaved man who pursued his freedom, settled in Woodstock, and returned to the South fight for the freedom of others.

The devastation of the Civil War demanded that Americans find ways to make meaning of the experience. We’ll examine ways Americans gave the war meaning and purpose and how we give it meaning today as we spend a day of reflection in Cornish.


This is an inquiry-based institute. As such we see us all as historians investigating, sharing, and reflecting on new knowledge as part of a common journey.  The inquiry cycle moves from connecting -> asking questions -> investigating -> constructing new understandings -> sharing new ideas with others -> reflecting on the process

Day 1: Connecting to the Topic; Asking Questions
The first primary source sessions in Strafford will introduce participants to the types of historical materials that can be found in local communities and focus on raising an army. We’ll begin to think about what “full duty” meant to the people in this small community.

Day 2: Guided Investigation

Guided investigations at the American Precision Museum and in Windsor will continue to introduce sources for historical investigation (maps and the landscape). Participants will be challenged to connect historical artifacts and documents to one person’s story in the war.

Day 3: From Guided to Independent Investigation
New primary source work will take place in Woodstock’s River Street cemetery. In the afternoon we will begin our own investigations.

Day 4: Constructing New Understandings; Sharing New Ideas

New primary source work utilizes online sources and the resources of the Woodstock Historical Society. A final session will guide participants in how to share their work through Web 2.0 technology.

Day 5: Share New Ideas; Reflection
St. Gaudens provides the perfect setting for reflection and small group presentations around the focus question.

As part of this institute, teachers will learn how to create a digital History Cache (similar to a geocache) that enables students to connect their inquiry to their community. As a digital presentation and archive, the History Cache is a culmination of the inquiry process.


The inquiry process demands constant reflection. Poetry and writing prompts connected to the day’s content offer a way to create interpretive and responsive writings that make connections between history and literature. The writing prompts explore point of view, integrate narrative and analysis, and support personal connections and insights. These responses to literature facilitate the difficult final steps of historical analysis—finding enduring themes, meaning, and significance in the material.

A final project on Friday at St. Gaudens also provides an opportunity for reflection. Small groups will be given the names of local people who participated in the Civil War. The project is to consider the focus question “What did full duty mean?” from their perspectives, creating a story from materials you encounter throughout the week. The story can be in the form of diary entries, a set of facsimile letters, a series of sketches, a first-person interpretation, a song—whatever you want to do. Participants will present their projects at the end of the institute on Friday. This is not meant to be an intense research project—instead it is to give voices to the people from our region who did their “full duty.”

OVERALL GOALS for the institute are for teachers to:

  • learn to use hands-on historical inquiry in the classroom
  • visit and learn about historical resources in the community
  • experience place-based learning
  • learn about field trip and classroom resources available from historical institutions
  • connect technology to history
  • receive teaching materials that address inquiry-based history instruction
  • become a part of a network of teachers from the region


Location of the Institute

The institute is being held in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire. Directions to the participating museums are listed on the institute website and on the bottom of the daily schedules. Because of the distance some participants will be driving we are offering rooms at the Shire Motel on Wednesday night.

Meals and Refreshments

Coffee, tea, and water are provided throughout each day along with lunch and an afternoon snack. If you need additional food or beverages bring whatever you want. If you have any special dietary concerns, please contact Sarah Rooker BEFORE the institute begins.

Summer institute scholarships, graduate credit, and overall administration and historical content is organized by:

  • Sarah Rooker, Director, Flow of History                          
  • Alan Berolzheimer, Historian, Flow of History 

Place-based components of the summer institute are led and organized by:

  • Steve Glazer, Poetics of Place                             
  • Laura Dintino, Vital Communities                       

Organization Contacts:

Justin Smith Morrill Homestead            

 Therese Linehan

 American Precision Museum        

 Ann Lawless

 Marsh Billings National Historical Park

 Tim Maguire

 Woodstock Historical Society    

 Jennifer Thompson

 St. Gaudens National Historic Site

 Greg Schwarz

The Fells Historic Estate & Gardens

 Michael Caduto