Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown has received funding for new programs and a publication based on 35 letters between American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr – the man who killed him in a duel in 1804.
These documents, although familiar to historians, have remained largely unknown to the public until recently when they were brought to light in the song “Your Obedient Servant” from the hit Broadway musical Hamilton.
The two grants, totaling $70,000, were awarded by The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.
A grant of $50,000 was awarded to fund the publication of a fully illustrated book on the final chapter of Hamilton’s life, presenting the letters in pictorial form for the first time. The content of the letters has not appeared collectively in a single volume since Interview in Weehawken (1960).
A grant of $20,000 was also awarded to create related programming. The Fenimore plans to design a virtual gallery of the Hamilton-Burr Collection and offer four programs.
Two of these programs, for professionals of small historical societies and libraries with archival collections in Suffolk County, will use the printed publication and digitization of the Hamilton-Burr duel letters as a case study. For teachers, the museum will provide lesson plans for inclusion on its free, online educational portal, Harvest of History, and offer two online distance learning sessions exclusively to social studies teachers in Suffolk County as a means to support and encourage active use of these resources in the classroom.
In addition to the two grants, The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation continues to provide support for New York History Day–a year-long educational program sponsored in New York State by Fenimore Art Museum, which encourages students to explore local, state, national, and world history. Projects created by these students can be entered into a series of competitions, from the local to the national level, where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators.
For more information about the Fenimore Art Museum, visit their website.
Photo: Letter exchanged between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, provided by Fenimore Art Museum