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Resources for Teaching Longfellow

Welcome to Longfellow & the Forging of American Identity

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ca. 1878

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

The curricular resources you will find on this page were developed by thirty teachers from Maine and Massachusetts who participated in an intensive two-year (2003-2004) study of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's life and poetry that was organized by the Maine Humanities Council. The program was designed to explore ways of bringing Longfellow's work back into the curriculum in a dynamic and meaningful way-in English, Social Studies, American Studies, Art, Music, and other subjects.

Participants read and discussed Longellow's work extensively, met regularly with scholars, and visited important Longfellow-related sites and archives. The program culminated with the teachers own research projects. Each participating teacher did extensive archival research on a literary or historical aspect of Longfellow's work and created the teaching resources you will find below.

The Longfellow Institute, as the program is known, was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and led by scholar Charles Calhoun, author of the recently published biography, Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life (Beacon Press, 2004). Program speakers included museum curators, archivists, and specialists in 19th-century American literature, history, art, architecture, and popular culture.

The focus of the Institute was not only on Longfellow's poetry but on his cultural impact and legacy in creating such enduring American icons as Paul Revere, Evangeline, Priscilla Alden, and (more controversially) Hiawatha. The teachers also examined the poet's life in the context of his family and his many friends, including Hawthorne, Emerson, Charles Sumner, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Fanny Kemble, and Oscar Wilde.

The Institute was presented in cooperation with the Maine Historical Society, the Longfellow National Historic Site in Cambridge, MA, Bowdoin College, and other cultural agencies. This was the first program of its kind in the country, and an original and enduring contribution to the "recovery" of Longfellow in American culture.

EXPLORE THE LESSON PLANS on Maine Memory Network.