Crafting Freedom Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop 2013

Information for Accepted Applicants

Here are FAQs or Frequently Asked Questions about your participation in the workshop this summer:

1. How do I make hotel arrangements?

You will book your hotel accommodations at the workshop hotel through the workshop registrar, Elsabet Fisseha (  Please do NOT make hotel reservations through the hotel’s front desk. This will create confusion and possibly double–booking. The cost of your hotel room will be deducted from your stipend so you will not pay for it directly. If you wish to share a room, Elsabet can help you find a suitable roommate. [See No. 2 below] If you book a double with a roommate, the cost for five nights is $225 which will be deducted from your stipend. The total cost with tax for a single (without sharing with a room-mate) for five nights is $450 to be deducted from your stipend. These rates are negotiated “special workshop rates” and include a hot buffet breakfast, high-speed internet access, a business center, a modest fitness center, and a pool, as well as other amenities, such as flat screen TVs with cable and coffee-makers in each room.

2. How can I arrange to get a roommate?

Elsabet Fisseha ( will send you a short “booking form” in early May via e-mail to book your room at the workshop hotel. Please fill it out and return it to Elsabet via email. It will include a section on “matching roommates” so that you can be linked – if desired – with a compatible roommate. Everyone needs to fill out the booking form even if you aren’t staying at the workshop hotel because it gathers other important information related to your stay.

3. When will I receive the $1200 stipend to cover my expenses?

You will receive the stipend on the last day of the workshop minus the costs of several pre-paid meals and tour fees (a deduction of approximately $120) and minus the cost of your hotel room. This means you will have to pre-pay only for your travel to the workshop. If you miss any portion of the required workshop presentations or activities for any reason – including health, family issues or delayed flights – there will be a pro rata deduction from your stipend. An hour begins after 15 minutes of being tardy.

4. How do I travel to the Workshop?

By Air: Please book your air travel to Raleigh–Durham Airport (RDU) early to get the best deals. You need to arrive in the afternoon of the date the workshop begins (i.e. June 20th or June 27th) at no later than 5:00 PM. Please plan to board your return flight no earlier than 3:00 PM on the following Tuesday (i.e. June 25th or July 2nd). This will enable you to arrive at RDU two hours before your flight departs. “The Crafting Freedom” workshop has made arrangements with a shuttle called “At Your Service” to be a dedicated shuttle service for the workshops. Once you arrive simply call  “At Your Service” at 919–922-1117. Jo Ann, the driver, will answer and tell you where to go for pick–up. Important: If for any reason you miss your connection or your flight is delayed please call “At Your Service” so Jo Ann can modify her schedule accordingly. You will arrange directly with Jo Ann for pick-up and you will pay for “At Your Service” directly ; it costs  $40 round-trip. Note: There are also taxis at the airport and other ground transportation, but past participants have highly praised “At Your Service” for its  customer service and reliability.) Important: As soon as you have flight information please provide it in this form:

Your Name;Airline/s; Arrival Flight # ;Date/Time of Arrival;Departure Flight #; Date & Time of Departure;Your Cell Number.

Email this information to At Your Service:

By Car: If you are driving, see the workshop hotel website for driving directions. The workshop hotel is the Hampton Inn and Suites of Chapel Hill on Farrington Road.

By Bus/Train: You may also choose to take a bus (Greyhound) or train (Amtrak) to the workshop. There are stations for both in Durham, NC, your destination city. From the Amtrak or Greyhound station, you will need to take taxi transportation to the Hampton Inn and Suites of Chapel Hill on Farrington Road.

5. Can locals commute to the workshop?

Because Crafting Freedom is a “residential” educational experience in which participants benefit from being part of a “learning community,” we urge everyone to stay at the Workshop Hotel including “locals.” However, sometimes participants who live within a commutable distance desire to stay at home and commute in. If you decide to commute, it is your responsibility to be on time at all required activities, including evening activities. A pro-rata’d portion of your stipend will be deducted for each hour of workshop activity missed. An hour begins after 15 minutes of being late. Also, the tour bus cannot wait for anyone who is late.

6. What about meals?

(This section subject to modification.) Five meals (2 evening meals and 3 lunches) will be pre-deducted from your $1200 stipend, but four meals (dinners Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights plus Monday lunch) are on your own. There’s a hearty free buffet breakfast served in the lobby, but the hotel has no restaurant. However, there are several restaurants within walking distance of the hotel and take-out delivery options are also available if you choose to take evening meals at the hotel.

7. What do I do upon arrival at the hotel?

When you arrive, check in first at the workshop registration desk where the Workshop Registrar, Elsabet Fisseha and Teacher Mentor Beverly McNeill  will provide you with a packet of handouts and the workshop schedule. They will also tell you about Orientation which will follow later that same evening, and they will explain check-in and check–out of the hotel as well.

8. Can we stay extra days before or after the workshop?

Yes, you may. Just get in touch with Elsabet Fisseha  ( if you need to stay extra nights and she will make the arrangements with the hotel. However, you will need to pay the hotel directly for the extra nights you stay. You will be given the Workshop Rate for the extra nights ( Elsabet will ensure this.)

9. What should I bring with me?

Money: We recommend at least $30 per day for your personal needs as well as for eating out and extra books and souvenirs you may wish to purchase from sites.

Clothing: Workshop dress is “ everyday casual” meaning pants/shorts and comfortable shirts/blouses. Expect 90-degree days, humidity, and (usually) sunshine. We recommend good walking shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, an umbrella, a hat/visor, insect repellent and a light sweater/ jacket (air conditioners are cool.)

Personal Needs: If you have medicinal or very special dietary needs, you will need to bring your own supplies. Seating at some historic sites is on wooden benches. Please bring a small pillow or stadium seat if hard seating is of concern for you.   Photography and Laptop computers: Still photography is allowed for classroom and personal use. Video taping lectures is not allowed. The hotel has Wireless Internet access throughout the facility and a couple of computers available for use during certain hours in the hotel’s office. It is recommended that you bring a laptop or other personal computer device (such a Tablet device), although it is not obligatory.

Books: You are discouraged from bringing books with you, because you will receive more books and materials at the workshop. All sites sell books and other items. Important: Be sure to save space in your baggage for workshop materials and other purchases that you’ll be taking home.

10. Will there be time to do independent sightseeing and shopping in the area? 

No. If you are interested in touring the area, please come a few days earlier or stay a few days later. You may take advantage of the workshop rate ($79/ night per room/ single or double) for a longer stay at the hotel. See: # 12. Below, “Should I rent a car?”

11. May I bring family members or pets with me to the workshop?

We discourage participants from bringing family members, but there is no policy stating “no family members.” This is an intensive residential professional development experience for K–12 educators. We are on the go from early in the morning and sometimes go until late in the evening. Only participants are authorized to attend activities. There is little time to spend with those who are not part of the workshop. We know that pets are “family” to many. However, the workshop hotel does not accommodate pets.

12. Should I rent a car?

All participants are required to ride the tour bus to all activities; however, some have found it useful to rent a car. The times a car comes in handy are Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings when meals are “on your own” and there are not an abundance of places to walk to. A list of local cabs and transportation options will be provided. In the past, some participants who came early or extended their stay for a few days rented a car. If you stay late, “At Your Service” van service can drop you off the last day of the workshop at a rental car agency at RDU airport. That way you will not have to pay for a car throughout the workshop. Or if you arrive early, you may rent a car at RDU and drive to the hotel. After using the car for a day or more,  return it to the airport car rental agency and arrange for “At Your Service” to pick you up there on Thursday when the workshop begins. Sometimes there are special week–end car rental rates which make car rental more desirable.

If you have other questions or concerns, please contact Elsabet Fisseha at .

We look forward to meeting you!

Crafting Freedom Workshop Flyer

“Crafting Freedom: Black Artisans, Entrepreneurs and Abolitionists of the Antebellum Upper South” simply known as the “Crafting Freedom Workshop” is an NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop for K-12 educators. It is funded by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the thirteenth and fourteenth sessions will be offered in the summer of 2013. The workshop engages participants, also known as “NEH Summer Scholars,” in intensive study using the power of place to motivate exploration of the lives and works of several significant antebellum African Americans. These “freedom crafters” created opportunities and achieved greater freedom for themselves and others through their actions and ingenuity, through their works of art and craft, and through their spoken and written words.

The Crafting Freedom Workshop has reached hundreds of educators from 38 states over several summers since 2004. It has consistently been rated “excellent” with many deeming it one of the best professional development experiences of their careers. See participant feedback here.

To see a video created by a Crafting Freedom participant, Wallace Monteiro click here. Wallace is an English teacher from Brazil and we very much appreciate his  heartfelt, YouTube tribute to the 2011 workshop.

Next summer Crafting Freedom will be offered twice: Session I: June 20-25, 2013 and Session II: June 27 -July 2, 2013. Each session will serve 40 participants.

For detailed guidelines on how to apply, see application guidelines.

The remainder of this information page is organized around questions prospective applicants often ask.

What are the landmarks to be visited and topics to be explored?

The Union Tavern, Milton Presbyterian Church, the Burwell School and Historic Stagville Plantation are the landmarks to be visited.

The Milton Tavern in Milton, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Michael Helms.

The Union Tavern, in the village of Milton, NC is a “hands-on” furniture museum featuring furniture made by free black cabinetmaker, Thomas Day (1801-ca.1861). The Tavern was Day’s furniture shop and home from 1848 until his death. There he built the largest furniture business in the state and became one of the most successful black businessmen in the South. He has been described by the New York Times as a “major antebellum figure” because of his expert craftsmanship, his economic success, and increasingly, because of his ties to abolitionists in the North. Laurel C. Sneed, workshop director, has been researching Thomas Day since 1995 when her ground-breaking research uncovered his family origins in southern Virginia. She will speak about Thomas Day’s formative years and how he came to Milton, as well as about findings re: his ties to northern abolitionists. Jerome Bias, a black cabinetmaker following in Day’s footsteps, will demonstrate traditional cabinetmaking techniques and discuss Day’s furniture from a woodworking perspective. Joseph Graves, an interpreter at the Union Tavern, will speak about Thomas Day as a successful business man.

The Milton Presbyterian Church

The Milton Presbyterian Church is just a few steps from the Tavern. Vanessa Richmond Graves, (no relation to Joseph) will lead a discussion about Day as a father to three children and as member of the predominantly white church where he constructed the walnut pews still in use today. Fred Motley, a Thomas Day re-enactor, will portray Thomas Day reading a letter he wrote to his daughter when she was at school in the North.

The Burwell School in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

The Burwell School in historic Hillsborough, the colonial capital of North Carolina, was a boarding school for elite white girls from the area and home to Elizabeth Keckly * (1817-1907) who was enslaved there as a teenager and young adult. Keckly became the most important black woman in the fashion and dress design business during the Civil War era. She also wrote a best-selling memoir or “slave narrative” that describes her youth at the Burwell School and her later years behind the scenes at the Lincoln White House as a dress designer and confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln. William A. Andrews, internationally acclaimed scholar of African-American slave narratives, will discuss this literary genre and how it developed during the slavery era. He will place Keckly’s postbellum narrative in historical context and compare and contrast it with others. Sneed will lead a discussion on the ways the lives of Keckly and Day intersected in Hillsborough and beyond. Rebecca Ryan, director of the Burwell School, will provide a brief biography of Keckly, focusing on her formative years and major experiences that shaped her. Participants learn how Keckly, as a slave, operated a successful dressmaking business that supported a household of 17 people; how she “crafted freedom” by purchasing herself and her only child; and how she leveraged her elite status as a White House insider to start a charity for black veterans of the Civil War. Participants will tour the school and grounds. In connection with these presentations, African-American seamstress/dress designer, Nellie “Chubb’s” Miles, will make a presentation entitled “Soul-Stitching with Chubb’s” about how she learned to sew growing up as a sharecropper’s daughter on a tobacco plantation near Hillsborough.

* “Keckly” without a second “e” is how she spelled her own name. “Keckley” is how many spell it, but scholars have encouraged us to respect her own spelling.

Historic Stagville. Photo courtesy of Alton Mitchell.

Historic Stagville Plantation, just North of Durham, was the largest plantation in North Carolina in the mid-nineteenth century. It has rare, intact slave quarters and structures built by enslaved craftspeople. At Stagville, NEH Summer Scholars will develop an appreciation of the range of skilled artisanship required to sustain a large antebellum plantation. They will witness the impressive handiwork of brick masons, carpenters, and others. There will be presentations made by site staff, as well as by workshop faculty. Juanita M. Holland, scholar of 19th century African–American art and material culture, will illuminate the kinds of art and craft activities that enslaved people were involved with. Historian, Reginald Hildebrande will discuss the role religion and spirituality played in the lives of the enslaved at Stagville and in the lives of 19th century African-Americans in general.

What will the schedule and workload be like?

Crafting Freedom will take place over an intensive five day period which starts on a Thursday evening and ends on the following Tuesday at noon. Participants spend over 40 intensive hours during the day and several evenings in lectures/presentations, in exploration and study at the landmarks, in instructional development activities and in independent study or research. Instructional development sessions focus on the abundant material freely available on the NEH-funded Crafting Freedom website, Scholars and master teachers who helped to develop the website will introduce the instructional material to participants. Click here for a printable summary of the workshop schedule.

There will be some assigned readings prior to attending the workshop. Additional media and material will be provided at the workshop. Thursday evening will begin with an orientation and presentation of workshop themes. On Friday and Saturday, a tour bus will take participants to the landmarks where site interpreters, as well as Crafting Freedom faculty will make presentations. Sunday and Monday are reserved for more lectures, instructional planning and independent study to include: hands-on craft demonstrations and activities, an orientation to the extensive research resources such as Documenting the American South on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before leaving the workshop on Tuesday, each participant will turn in a plan for a proposed lesson or instructional activity to be implemented during the 2013-2014 school year. Participants will be asked to incorporate primary source documents, lesson plans, handouts, web videos and/or powerpoints from the Crafting Freedom website into their instructional plan.

Who will be leading the workshop?

Laurel C. Sneed, Executive Director of the Apprend Foundation, Inc., will be the workshop leader. She also serves as the director of the Thomas Day Education Project (TDEP) which she co-founded with her husband, Charles “Charlie” D. Sneed in 1994. Charlie is assistant director of the workshop. He is a former journalist and classroom teacher who will be involved in all “behind the scenes” logistics, contracts, and financial matters pertaining to “Crafting Freedom.”

Laurel is an educator and has been an instructional designer and producer of educational media and materials for over 30 years. In addition, in 1995 she conducted the research that discovered Thomas Day’s origins in southern Virginia in consultation with a team of historians led by John Hope Franklin. She has been researching Day and the free black experience ever since. The Thomas Day Education Project (TDEP) began offering teacher workshops and creating media/materials on Thomas Day and related topics in the late 1990s. In 1999-2002, TDEP produced, with generous NEH funding, “Exploring the World of Thomas Day,” an interactive multimedia instructional game based on the research of Day’s origins. It received an Award of Excellence from Technology and Learning magazine and was named one of the top 25 educational software programs in the nation in 2003. All workshop participants will receive this resource. Laurel Sneed also served as executive producer of the “Crafting Freedom Materials Project” a freely available web-based resource, funded by NEH, that will be a major resource to be focused on in the Crafting Freedom Workshop.

What academic resources will be available?

NEH Summer Scholars are encouraged to bring a laptop computer because of the focus on the Crafting Freedom website materials. For those who do not have a laptop, there will be a few computers available, as well as some printed copies of textual material downloaded from the Crafting Freedom website. On the 4th day of the workshop ( Monday) NEH Summer Scholars will tour the various collections of the Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill where they will learn about the vast digitized Documenting the American South collection and other primary and secondary source material housed at Wilson. A few lectures will also take place at Wilson.

When and where will Crafting Freedom take place?

There are two sessions of the workshop serving 40 participants each: Session I: June 20-25, 2013 and Session II: June 27-July 2, 2013.

The workshop will take place in the heart of the Research Triangle area of North Carolina near the border of Chapel Hill/Durham, about 25 miles west of Raleigh and 10 miles west of the Raleigh–Durham (RDU) Airport, an East Coast hub for several airlines.

How much is the stipend and what does it cover?

NEH Summer Scholars attending Crafting Freedom will receive a $1200 stipend upon completion of the workshop. From the stipend, some costs will be deducted such as workshop hotel costs, a few meals, and tour fees. Participants must pay for transportation to the workshop in advance of receiving the stipend. Generally participants outside of North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina fly into RDU, but some drive or take Amtrak. In most instances the $1200 stipend covers all costs : hotel, meal, round trip airfare/other transportation expenses to the Workshop, tour fees and a few group meals when touring sites or working at the hotel.

May I get CEU or other credit?

Though the Crafting Freedom workshop is not able to provide official CEUs or other credits, we will furnish all NEH Summer Scholars with a workshop certificate verifying the number of hours they participated in this professional development experience. This certificate may be presented to the official in one’s school or district who is authorized to approve in-service credit.

What and where are the accommodations?

Since Crafting Freedom is a “residential” educational experience and because there will be some required activities in the evenings, all participants are urged to stay at the workshop hotel complex. In 2012, the cost for one room (for one person) for five nights was approximately $450.00; the cost for five nights goes down to $225.o0 if the room is shared with another participant. Subject to a moderate change, the room rate includes a buffet breakfast, high-speed internet access, a business center with several computers, a 24-hour fitness center, and a pool. We will help find a room-mate for those desiring to share a room with a fellow NEH Summer Scholar. Several meals will be provided when touring or working at the hotel. More details on accommodations will be provided as plans for the 2013 workshop become finalized.

Am I eligible to apply to Crafting Freedom?

Full-time and part-time classroom teachers and librarians in public, charter, independent, and religiously affiliated schools, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to participate. Other K-12 school personnel, including administrators, substitute teachers, and classroom professionals, are eligible to participate, subject to available space. We encourage individuals from all grade levels and disciplines to apply.

How do I apply?

For detailed information on how to apply, see application guidelines.

The most important part of the completed application is the one page ( double or single spaced) essay. It should include information about the applicant’s professional background and interest in the specific subject of the workshop. It should also address any special perspectives, skills, or experiences that the applicant will bring to the workshop; and, how the experience would enhance one’s teaching or capacity to share knowledge with others. If the applicant has participated in an NEH workshop before, it would be helpful to know how the workshop impacted his or her teaching. In addition to the essay, each applicant must submit a letter of recommendation from the principal or department head of his or her teaching institution or the head of a home-schooling association in support of his or her application. A brief resume is also required. Note: Individual applicants are allowed to apply to up to TWO separate projects (NEH Landmarks Workshops, NEH Summer Seminars or NEH Summer Institutes); however, it is possible to participate in only ONE project per summer.

Completed applications should be postmarked no later than March 4, 2013, and should be addressed as follows:

Laurel C. Sneed, Director
Crafting Freedom
P.O. Box 13144
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709.

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact Laurel C. Sneed at



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