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RIT conference to highlight local history

By NATE DOUGHERTY - 7/8/2011 1:00:34 PM

Rochester history is on display at a conference at Rochester Institute of Technology that brings in teachers from across the country.

“Abolitionism, Women’s Rights and Religion on the Rochester Reform Trail,” a National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks Workshop, allows participants to follow the path of Rochester’s history makers, RIT officials said.

The workshop sessions run July 10 to 16 and July 17 to 23 and include daily expert lectures and discussions at the Strong’s National Museum of Play as well as field trips uncovering the reform struggles of famous Rochesterians Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass and Charles Finney.

Participants will follow the route of Charles Grandison Finney’s religious revivals along the Erie Canal, see the Frederick Douglass Papers at the University of Rochester and study women’s suffrage struggles at both Seneca Falls and the Susan B. Anthony House. The cycle will be completed when participants return to the classroom and pass the lessons of Rochester history along to their students, RIT officials said.

“We need to make sure that today’s students understand that modern conceptions of diversity and equality came out of past reform struggles,” said Richard Newman, professor of history at RIT and co-director of the conference. “And no American city played a more important role in 19th century reform than Rochester.

“By taking teachers to the area historic sites associated with anti-slavery struggles, women’s rights reform and religious revivalism, we hope that educators from around the country will better appreciate Rochester as a center of American reform movements.”

The workshops are sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ We the People program and funded by a $156,000 grant.

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