Department SpotlightWhitworth Senior Studies in New York City as Gilder Lehrman History Scholars Finalist
Whitworth history major and Seattle native Jessica Stiles, '06, studied history and art in New York City last June as a finalist in the Gilder Lehrman History Scholars Program. During the one-week program, sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Stiles and the 44 other finalists from the United States stayed at Columbia University and experienced the city from cultural and academic perspectives.
More than 300 undergraduate students representing 186 colleges and universities applied to the scholars program.
"When I received the letter congratulating me for winning the one-week scholarship to New York City, I was a bit disappointed. I aimed for the first prize, a six-week internship," Stiles says. "However, I soon realized the value of my award, which was by no means second-rate. The Gilder Lehrman Institute recognized my passion for history and designed this special one-week trip to honor and enhance that interest. During the trip, I was encouraged to explore every opportunity, ask questions, and seek advice from the students, leaders and historians involved in the program."
The finalists attended lectures given by renowned historians including Pauline Maier, Gordon Wood, Ira Berlin and Steven Mintz, and received from each speaker a copy of his or her best-selling book. The students also visited important archives and museums across New York City, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Historical Society, and private collections at the New York Public Library and at the Gilder Lehrman Institute, which were accessible by appointment only.
"My favorite experience in New York City was visiting the multitude of amazing museums," Stiles says. "From original copies of the Declaration of Independence, letters by Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, to famous works of art by Pollock, Warhol, and O’Keefe, New York is full of national history."
In addition to majoring in history, Stiles is earning a secondary-education teaching endorsement at Whitworth. After graduating in May, she plans to teach high-school history or social studies, and possibly earn a doctorate in history and teach at a college or university.
Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history. Increasingly national and international in scope, the institute targets audiences ranging from students to scholars to the general public. It creates history-centered schools and academic research centers, organizes seminars and enrichment programs for educators, partners with school districts to implement Teaching American History grants, produces print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, and sponsors lectures by eminent historians.
The institute also funds awards including the Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and George Washington Book Prizes and offers fellowships for scholars to work in history archives, including the Gilder Lehrman Collection. For more information about the institute, please visit www.gilderlehrman.org.