Education Programs: Humanities Initiatives at Hispanic-Serving Institutions

Period of Performance

1/1/2018 - 6/30/2022

Funding Totals

$84,932.00 (approved)
$84,932.00 (awarded)

MakeHISTORY@Kean: William Livingston’s World

FAIN: AC-258915-18

Kean University (Union, NJ 07083-7133)
Elizabeth Hyde (Project Director: June 2017 to March 2024)
Jonathan Mercantini (Co Project Director: December 2017 to March 2024)

Development at Kean University of a new History Lab and undergraduate history curriculum focused on the life and times of William Livingston, first elected governor of New Jersey.

“MakeHistory@Kean: William Livingston’s World” is a three-year project to develop the Kean University Department of History curriculum around the concept of a History Lab. Using untapped archival resources and facilities of Kean, Liberty Hall Museum and the Liberty Hall Academic Center, undergraduates will generate a portfolio of original historical research to be shared with a broad public through talks, exhibits, websites, lesson plans, and other genres. Students will reconstruct and disseminate political, intellectual, and social worlds of William Livingston, first elected governor of New Jersey, signer of the U.S. Constitution, and builder of Liberty Hall, the estate on which Kean University now sits. The development of this curriculum writes an important chapter in American History, prepares history majors to compete in the 21st-century job market, and culminates in a 5-year BA/MA degree in History and Public Humanities.

Associated Products

William Livingston, Wartime Propagandist (Blog Post)
Title: William Livingston, Wartime Propagandist
Author: Nicole Skalenko and Victor Bretones
Abstract: Analysis of Livingston's publications during the American War for Independence.
Date: 4/01/2019
Primary URL:
Website: John Jay Papers

William Livingston's Book List (Web Resource)
Title: William Livingston's Book List
Author: Kean University History Students
Abstract: A website dedicated to the digital reconstruction and analysis of William Livingston's personal library.
Year: 2019
Primary URL: http://

Teaching the History of Slavery and Enslaved People (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Teaching the History of Slavery and Enslaved People
Author: Caleb Dagnall, Jonathan Mercantini, Elizabeth Hyde
Abstract: Website with teaching resources, including primary and secondary sources, on slavery and the enslaved in Revolutionary America.
Year: 2020
Primary URL: http://
Primary URL Description: The resources on this page – drawn from the archived letters of William Livingston and his family, John Kean and Susan Livingston Kean Nemciewicz, and Liberty Hall more broadly – allow for the exploration of a range of facets related to the history of the institution of slavery and the experiences of the enslaved in Revolutionary era America. While efforts to reconstruct the history of the enslaved at Liberty Hall are ongoing there is much work to be done before we will fully understand their lives and labor. The sources we do have must be used carefully as they are all from the perspective of white slaveholders. The Livingston family and Liberty Hall from the period of 1772-1790 provides an example of slavery in the north and the impact and limits of revolutionary ideas and rhetoric with regard to the institution of slavery. Recapturing this history is essential to understanding the institution of slavery and its impact, nationally, regionally, and locally. The resources available
Audience: General Public

Livingston and Slavery (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Livingston and Slavery
Author: Jonathan Mercantini
Abstract: William Livingston’s World – using Livingston, a Founding Father, to get beyond these traditional histories and to use him to access all of the people men and women, white and black, who inhabited his world; looked at in this way, Livingston’s world grows to include the full Livingston family, one of the most powerful and prominent in New York and referenced in The Gilded Age.
Date: 02/17/2022
Conference Name: Southeastern American 18th Century Studies Society

The First Presidential Inauguration (Blog Post)
Title: The First Presidential Inauguration
Author: Jonathan Mercantini
Author: Elizabeth Hyde
Abstract: On the eve of Inauguration Day, 2021, it is worthwhile exploring two letters from April 1789 in the Liberty Hall Collection in the Kean University Special Collections Research Library and Archives. Both letters contain details about the excitement in New York in anticipation of the inauguration of George Washington and the ceremonies of that momentous event. As the country again prepares to watch and listen as the President takes the oath of office, some of those ceremonies will sound familiar, but his year they will occur in an atmosphere unlike any other in the nation's history.
Date: 1/19/2021
Primary URL:
Blog Title: The First Inauguration
Website: Kean History Blog

Liberty in the American Revolution Workshop Invitation (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: Liberty in the American Revolution Workshop Invitation
Author: Jonathan Mercantini
Author: Elizabeth Hyde
Abstract: This is the flyer inviting teachers to attend the Teaching Workshop.
Date Range: May 23-26, 2022
Location: Kean University

William Livingston of New Jersey: Governing in a State of Civil War (Article)
Title: William Livingston of New Jersey: Governing in a State of Civil War
Author: Jonathan Mercantini
Abstract: This essay examines the challenges Livingston faced in the pivotal year of 1777.
Year: 2022
Access Model: Open Access
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: New Jersey Studies
Publisher: New Jersey Studies (pending)

William Livingston's World (Web Resource)
Title: William Livingston's World
Author: Elizabeth Hyde
Author: Jonathan Mercantini
Author: Nicole Skalenko
Author: Caleb Dagnall
Abstract: This is the central Hub for all of the work related to the Project.
Year: 2018
Primary URL:

"A Reciprocal Exchange of the Productions of Nature: Plants and Place in France and America," in Moving Landscapes: Gardens and Gardening in the Transatlantic World, 1670-1830, ed Jennifer Milam and Stephen Bending (Article)
Title: "A Reciprocal Exchange of the Productions of Nature: Plants and Place in France and America," in Moving Landscapes: Gardens and Gardening in the Transatlantic World, 1670-1830, ed Jennifer Milam and Stephen Bending
Author: Elizabeth Hyde
Abstract: On 24 September 1782, New Jersey Governor William Livingston wrote to François de Barbé-Marbois, French consul in Philadelphia, to thank him for a gift of seeds from the French king’s garden in appreciation of Livingston answering Marbois famous “questionnaire.” He politely questioned what reciprocation might be expected: “Considering my passion for horticulture, under how great obligations am I to you for your very agreeable present of such a variety of garden seeds as accompanied your Letter of the 17th & are dignified by the circumstance of their coming from the King’s garden?” And he expressed hope that “our republican soil” would not harm the seeds generated in a “monarchical climate.” In citing the difference between American “republican soil” and the “monarchical climate” of Louis XVI’s France from which the seeds came, Livingston was engaging in international political banter. But was Livingston simply being witty? Or were there meaningful differences between the two? Would the French seeds mean something different in an American garden? And conversely, how were American plants to contribute to the French landscape? Put another way, could plants make place in the eighteenth century? Or place make plants? This paper addresses these questions through the analysis of late eighteenth-century Franco-American botanical exchange. Through the exploration of plant lists, orders, and garden plans, the correspondence of gardeners and botanists on both sides of the Atlantic, the paper explores the role of European plants in American gardens and American plants in French gardens and addresses what both nations sought to secure through what American gardener Richard Cary called referred to as “a reciprocal exchange of the productions of nature.”
Year: 2021
Primary URL: http://
Primary URL Description: Huntington Library Quarterly Volume 84, Number 3 Autumn 2021 ARTICLES Stephen Bending, Jennifer Milam OVER THE LAST FIFTY YEARS, some of the most compelling work on designed landscape on both sides of the Atlantic has focused on its symbolic power, on its ability to speak of nation and of national imaginings.1 Such histories of garden design, however, have also remained trapped within these imaginings of national landscapes and their geographies. This special issue explores the apparently "national" character of gardens in the context of their transatlantic connections during the long eighteenth century; here, we focus on shared cultures and outlooks, even as we recognize the powerful influence of local geographies and claims of national distinction. Central to this project is understanding designed landscape as constructed and contested by communities that defined themselves both by what they shared and by how they differed.
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Huntington Library Quarterly
Publisher: Huntington Library Quarterly

"Andre Michaux, Thomas Jefferson, and the 'Injunction of Science,'" in The Spirit of Inquiry in the Age of Jefferson (Article)
Title: "Andre Michaux, Thomas Jefferson, and the 'Injunction of Science,'" in The Spirit of Inquiry in the Age of Jefferson
Author: Elizabeth Hyde
Abstract: In 1792, French botanist André Michaux entered into negotiations with Thomas Jefferson around the possibility of his leading an expedition across the American West on behalf of the American Philosophical Society. The result was the extraordinary “Subscription Agreement” by which Michaux, who had been sent by Louis XVI to North America in 1785 to collect trees that might replenish French forests, agreed to undertake the mission to the Pacific. The document is special part of the history of the American Philosophical Society. Examined in context of Michaux's original mission, that of the American Philosophical Society, and Franco-American botanical exchange, it illuminates larger debates and porous boundaries around nature, nation, and science in the late eighteenth century. In drafting instructions to Michaux, Jefferson exhorted him not to take undo risk to his person, writing “It is strongly recommended to you to expose yourself in no case to unnecessary dangers, . . . and to consider this not merely as your personal concern, but as the injunction of Science in general which expects it's enlargement from your enquiries, & of the inhabitants of the US. in particular . . . .” Science and the United States expected much of Michaux, as did the new French republic. The expedition never took place. But this paper will demonstrate how the Frenchman Michaux and the American Philosophical Society worked to define (competing) national interests, personal glory, and Science at a crucial moment in the history of the new American and French republics.
Year: 2021
Primary URL:
Format: Other
Publisher: American Philosophical Society

Liberty Hall 360: A Revolutionary Wedding (Film/TV/Video Broadcast or Recording)
Title: Liberty Hall 360: A Revolutionary Wedding
Writer: Sarah Roberts Megan Tobias Matthew Wapelhorst Tyler Kerekgyarto Christopher Perez Samantha Bernardi Matthew Griffin Josue Simao Juliana Reents David Turon
Director: Emmanuel Vozos and Ed Johnston
Producer: Ed Johnston Emmanuel Vozos Henry Stankiewicz Jonathan Mercantini Elizabeth Hyde William Schroh
Abstract: Witness a project 244 years in the making, conceived and produced by Kean University students, with support of faculty, staff, alumni, and neighbors. The film invites audiences to attend the wedding of future Founding Father John Jay to socialite Sarah Livingston, the daughter of the first elected governor of New Jersey. A colorful cast of characters leads the audience on an adventure around the mansion and grounds, as they experience the story through the eyes of "Lucius Horatio", a rambunctious young guest at the wedding. Two versions of this film were created to give audience and museum-goers the exciting experience of feeling like they were actually there on this historic occasion. The widescreen version was filmed with wide angle lenses and in first-person perspective to put the audience in Lucius' shoes. And the 360° virtual reality version takes that experience to the next level. Using VR headsets, audiences are transported into a fully immersive environment - with the sights and sounds of the day all around them. It is not just a movie - it's a time machine. Liberty Hall 360: Revolutionary Wedding was created through the collaboration of students, faculty, staff and alumni of Kean University across multiple disciplines like graphic design, history, communication, writing and theatre.
Year: 2019
Primary URL:
Format: Film
Format: Web