The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, lifelong supporters of American history education, with a goal of becoming the leading American nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education. The Institute’s mission is nothing less than to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources, which it does through creating curriculums for schools to use when teaching different periods of American history.
At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives of American history. Drawing on the 65,000+ documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the general public with direct access to unique primary source materials.
Over the last two years, the institute has gained some fame for its partnership with the musical Hamilton, creating the Hamilton Education Program (“EduHam”) with support from the Rockefeller Foundation to bring economically disadvantaged students to see the musical and integrate the lyrics and performances into a study guide exploring the Revolutionary War and Founding Fathers. The program has been extended to Chicago, where Hamilton is also playing, and is being extended to other cities as the traveling Hamilton show moves around the country.
The core of the Foundation is the 65,000+ items in the Gilder Lehrman Collection, which comprises books, journals, periodicals, letters, maps, pamphlets, and many other other primary sources from throughout American history. The bulk of the collection has been digitized, allowing remote access to students and teachers, and the Institute uses these unique documents to create memorable curriculum and lesson plans.
ABAA-member Seth Kaller recently shared some information about his hand in the origin and growth of the Gilder Lehrman Collection with his colleagues, and with his permission, we wanted to share these reminiscences here, as they illustrate how a book collection can start small and turn into something world-class with focus and direction.
On May 16, 1989, Lewis Lehrman turned down my proposal to build an American history collection for Morgan Stanley, where he was then Managing Director of the Asset Management Group. Instead, Lew entrusted me to acquire some documents for him personally. That went well enough for Lew to introduce me to Richard Gilder, which led to the foundation of the Gilder Lehrman Collection.
Using our 60,000 acquisitions, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History now reaches 2.8 million students in 17,000 K-12 affiliate schools in all 50 states and 62 countries. 428,000 students have used GLI’s AP US History Study Guide. And, by the end of this high school year, 100,000 Title I students will have seen Hamilton and participated in GLI’s Hamilton Education Program – which will continue in New York and in every city the Hamilton touring company visits.
That brings me to [the 2018 Gilder Lehrman Gala], when Lin-Manuel Miranda helped GLI honor four great supporters of history education. Despite his admitted bias - two of the honorees happened to be his parents - even Lin-Manuel had to agree that the most exciting people to watch in that room were students Venus Nnadi, Kijani-Ali Gaulman, Angelee Gonzalez and the Girl Be Heard Theatre Company. Based on all that these students have already accomplished, I honestly felt a bit intimidated. I also recognize that they are just getting going -- truly a reason to be optimistic.
With an interest in the past and an eye towards the future, I invite you to check out www.gilderlehrman.org.
Catalogs by Seth Kaller, Inc.
- Alexander Hamilton Collection Highlights Brochure
- The Alexander Hamilton Collection, Part I
- The Alexander Hamilton Collection, Part II
From the blog archives:
"Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton is a phenomenon, even by the standards of hit Broadway musicals; people who have no hope of getting their paws on a ticket until sometime next year are obsessively listening to the cast recording and watching videos compulsively on YouTube. If the subject matter was anthropomorphic felines or an alternative take on a classic children's book we wouldn't blink an eye, but Miranda's remarkable success is built on the comparatively dry history of the founding fathers that most people day-dreamed their way through in high school. Looking through the items listed by ABAA members, we find many rare books and documents signed or written by the actual people dramatized in the musical..." (Read more...)