Between 2010 and 2017, BGC hosted four iterations of NEH Summer Institute. The project was directed by the late David Jaffee, and with Co-directors, Catherine Whalen and Katherine C. (Kasey) Grier, leading the American Material Culture: Nineteenth-Century New York this summer 2017. Over the four iterations, it hosted 120 educators and researchers. This is the current website for the American Material Culture: 19th-Century New York NEH Summer Institute 2017.

American Material Culture: 19th-Century New York
NEH Summer Institute 2017

Scope of the Institute
Project Content
Individual Projects and Meetings
Academic Resources
Project Faculty and Staff
Stipends and Housing
Application Instructions and Contact Information

William Bridges and Peter Maverick. Map of the city of New York and island of Manhattan, as laid out by the commissioners appointed by the legislature, April 3d, 1807, 1811. Line engraving. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.


We at Bard Graduate Center are delighted to host American Material Culture: Nineteenth-Century New York. This four-week National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute (July 3–28, 2017) offers eighteen college and university educators an opportunity to explore the use of material culture, both in their research and as an instructional medium, using New York City as their lab.

The goal of this Institute is to bring the exciting field of material culture studies into wider use for both teaching and research in the humanities. It will focus on the material culture of the nineteenth century, using New York City as its case study. Then as now, the city was a national center for fashioning cultural commodities and promoting consumer tastes, and we will explore this rich material record through field trips and exclusive sessions with curators. Summer Scholars will study significant texts in the scholarship of material culture, develop their own skills in artifact analysis, and explore material culture pedagogy through hands-on activities and discussion. Leading scholars and practitioners will join our interdisciplinary research community as guest faculty; there will be plenty of opportunities for conversation about their research and teaching, and about Summer Scholars’ research interests.

Currier & Ives. Broadway, New York. From the Western Union Telegraph Building, looking North, 1875. Hand-colored lithograph, published by Currier & Ives. Collection of The New-York Historical Society, PR20.1875.1.

Whether you have some experience with object-based work, or you have never taught with or studied material culture, you are welcome to apply. This website offers a brief overview of our plans for the Institute along with other information on logistical matters such as housing.

John H. Belter. Sofa, 1850-60. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Purchase, Friends of the American Wing Fund and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1999 (1999.396).

Please direct all application inquiries to: [email protected], and for more details visit the Application Instructions and Contact Information page.

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