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My First Trip at Washington DC

Today our seminar group went on a trip to Washington D.C. All I have to say is that it was amazing, inspiring, and breathtaking. Throughout Washington, we stopped at many places. Girl in front of Lincoln MemorialFirst, we went to the Lincoln Memorial and got to see Lincoln sitting in the chair with a famous quote above him but also with his great speeches to the left and right wall of the building. The pictures you look up online are nothing compared to what it’s like in person. In person, it’s so much bigger and detailed.  The experience really captures the significance of Lincoln and the building. Not far away, there’s a memorial park to MLK Jr. called Out of The Mountain of Despair. A Stone of Hope, that contains inspiring peaceful quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. along with MLK Jr. carved out 3D style. Second, we went tMartin Luther King Jr. made out of rocko the the National Archives Museum. We couldn’t take pictures but we got to see the original Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Needless to say, those clerks had amazing handwriting. The artwork above the  original documents was really eye catching and interesting to learn more about. The museum exhibits also had a lot of information to look at and more opportunities to learn about historic topics. Third, we went to the Smithsonian African American Museum where we got to learn so much about African American culture, from music old and new, sports from then vs now, and about people I never knew about before. I loved that I got to see Whitney Houston dress, which was captivating by the way.My favorite thing I got to see being there was the suit from the Black Panther movie.

Girl in front of Black Panther suit


Lincoln and Free SlaveLastly we went to the Emancipation Memorial, which is very controversial, and I understand and see it, too. But the context proves the significance. Thomas Ball was the artist who created the statue. Charlotte Scott was the first person to donate $5 to the cause. Archer Alexander was represented as the slave in the monument.  He was a free man but had been the last enslaved man in Missouri captured under the fugitive slave law. The vision is supposed to be the now freed slave positioning himself to standing up while Lincoln in his right hand has the emancipation proclamation. But with that, it’s up to the future now whether the statue stays, moves location, or gets recreated. Overall I had an amazing experience, and 100% enjoyed it.


July 26th, 2023

Ava pointing to a section of the “Gettysburg Address” to the class.

Wednesday was the student’s field trip to D.C. They rose bright and early to catch the bus at 7:30. About two hours later they arrived at the Lincoln Memorial. Professor Pinsker described the Lincoln Memorial as a “temple to democracy” –this could not be more true. With flanking large white columns, the neoclassical building was captivating from the outside but once inside it was truly impressive. The students climbed the same stairs Martin Luther King Jr. had given his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and entered to find a marble statue of Lincoln. The students looked up in appreciation eyes trailing over the details of the statue. It was there that they discussed their previous readings of the “Gettysburg Address” and “Second Inaugural Address.” 

They then ate lunch near Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and headed to the National Archive. The Archives house some of the original documents that the students have been pouring over these past two weeks. In the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, the students were able to see the Declaration of Independence, the Consitution, and the Bill of Rights. Students flexed their knowledge by pointing out specific sections of the Constitution and relayed their relevance to slavery. The students also attempted to identify the framers of the Constitution on the rotunda’s mural. In other exhibits, they learned about important court cases that have shaped the history of our nation. Some students then headed to the Archive’s gift shop in hopes of acquiring mementos of their trip. Two students quickly found figurines of Lincoln and Douglass which they used to boast about their upcoming debate. The competition was fierce. 

Scarlette, Laurent, and Cassie outside the National Archives.

The students also visited the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. They began their exploration of the museum in an elevator which as it descended moved back through history. Once on the lower level, the students learned about the history of African Americans from 1400-1877 detailing their enslavement and their fight for freedom. This exhibit reinforced what the students had already learned in their lecture but it also provided a different lens that centered the voices and perspectives of Black Americans. It was so powerful that a couple of students are already planning their next trip. Many students also expressed that they found the Cultural Gallery dedicated to African American contributions to the arts their favorite part of their trip. The students then headed to the Emancipation Memorial where they discussed symbolism, Frederick Douglas and his thought on Abraham Lincoln. After dinner, the students headed back to Dickinson.

2023 cohort in front of a statue of Abraham Lincoln.

July 25, 2023

Today was another study-filled day, but we made sure to leave room for fun.  Students read three documents for today’s lecture, and in some cases used that context to flesh out their close reading essays further.  After lunch, Charlotte Goodman (a graduate TA), Professor Pinsker, and the undergraduate interns took the students on the Dickinson and Slavery tour developed by House Divided.  Using markers throughout Dickinson’s campus, the instructors educated the students about the college’s founders and their connections to slavery, the impact Dickinsonians made on the Dred Scott decision, a gate named after the first formerly-enslaved person formally honored by the college, and Dickinson’s first Black employees.  The tour ended with an exploration of the House Divided studio itself, and the students were able to learn more about Dickinson and Carlisle’s history and inspect reproductions of historical artifacts, such as Dred and Harriet Scott’s freedom files.  Several of them also located a hat similar to Abraham Lincoln’s, and of course, that required immediate trials of its fit.

Two students near doorway, in front of blue wall. One student is posing while wearing a black top hat.

Arianna in Lincoln Hat, Vincent Jealous of Her Style

Student wearing Lincoln hat, looking up at the camera

Ava Harnessing Lincoln’s Power

Student wearing the Lincoln hat and posing with his hands up

Robert Embodying Lincoln’s Spirit

Other students chose to inspect early editions of plaques stored in the studio, or photos on the wall of Freedom Courtyard (located behind the studio).

Student crouching in front of two plaques, one small and bronze and the other larger and gold-lined

Ben Studying Original Plaques for Noah Pinkney

Students in Freedom Courtyard's brick hallway, looking at signs

Anderson, Finn, Erik, and Anthony Being Studious

The entire tour was an enlightening experience which the students enjoyed before heading off to an admissions workshop.  That mini-class informed them about how best to prepare for college essays and interviews.  The students had been working on their close reading posts for the last few days, and they were finally due this evening.  All of the undergraduate tutors were available for video or writing assistance up until the deadline for any student who requested help.

At nine o’clock, the students gathered in the 4th-floor common room for a ‘PowerPoint night’ event.  Anyone who wished (including TAs and interns) could choose a topic in which they were interested, prepare a funny slideshow, and then present it to everyone in the room.  After clearing their presentations with the TAs or interns, the students were free to teach everyone about their niche interests.  Watching everyone’s presentations was a wonderful way for the students to let off some steam after being so dedicated to their close reading posts.  A special all-day field trip to Washington, D.C. was scheduled tomorrow, so after the slideshows were done, everyone prepared themselves to get some rest for what would surely be an event-packed, educational day.

Student standing to the left of a television screen with a QR Code for Downtown York on it

Finn Ending His Persuasive PowerPoint

Man standing to the left of a television screen with Nicolas Cage's face on it

Cooper Standing Next to His Lookalike

Community and The Knowledge For Freedom Seminar

Many students squished into the elevator after a long field trip.

Imagine voluntarily taking two weeks of summer before your last year of high school, living on a college campus and working on college assignments. This is exactly what 24 of us have done. Many have probably been worrying about the amount of work that must be done, and worrying whether or not they’d have to share a dorm room with a complete stranger. I believe the last thing that many of us thought we’d encounter when applying for the Knowledge for Freedom Seminar is such an amazing group of people, from all different places. It didn’t take many of us very long to become well acquainted with one another. By the end of day two, the inhabitants of floor 3 had created their own group chat with each other, and soon following came the group chat between most everyone; sharing their stories from our own schools back home, playing games with each other, and trading funny inside jokes that got messaged back and forth.

Atticus, Anthony, Finn, and Arianna taking picture evidence for their campus scavenger hunt.

Despite the rigorous schoolwork compressed within a small two week period, this has been one of the best and most fun summer experiences I’ve had. Even considering the small amount of time we’ve known one another, I feel we really have created such an amazing community, and have made some truly incredible connections. Most of us probably didn’t guess we’d enjoy these past two weeks as much as we’ve had. As for myself, I’m excited to return home, but I know I’m gonna miss this experience and all those involved. Once these two weeks are over I think it may be a little bittersweet. Not everyone may feel the same as myself. Some may think very little of everyone once they leave, some may dwell and miss it for a while, and few may stay in contact. The truth is, none of us really knows what will happen once we’re done with this seminar, once we step off campus and make our way back home. No matter what, we’ve all taken the opportunity to step out of our comfort zones and make new connections. Even if you’re not here for the history, I think being here for the experience is just as great.



July 24, 2023

Students doing homework

Students Having a Study Session

On Monday the students headed back to the classroom to continue their studies. They dove into “Mission of the War” (1864) by Frederick Douglass, “Perils of the Hour” (1864) by Anna Dickinson, and “Blind Memorandum” (1864) by Abraham Lincoln. During this lecture, the students also received their teams for the Lincoln-Douglass debate on the final day of the seminar. Professor Pinsker flipped a coin to determine which team of students would defend the viewpoints of the moderate Abraham Lincoln, and which would argue for the radical strategies of Frederick Douglass. After some insightful discussion in their small group sessions, they headed to the cafeteria for lunch. In the afternoon, they listened intently as the graduate TA’s led them through a session on their Close Reading projects, which would be due just 24 hours later. They also reconvened with their teams and their assigned TA’s to strategize for the upcoming debate.

Monday evening was calm. Nearly every student worked diligently to make significant progress on their assignments, with all hands on deck from the seminar staff to ensure they received thorough guidance. This week will be busy as students wrap up their Close Reading assignments, head to Washington D.C. on Wednesday, and prepare for the intense Lincoln-Douglass debates at the end of the week.

July 23, 2023

After the Gettysburg field trip, students had a relatively relaxing day back at the dorms. Students mainly worked on their close reading projects, with many of them getting a lot done. The Graduate TAs were available to review draft posts and provide quality feedback, and the Undergraduate Interns helped with video editing and other technological issues that students had. Students overall made good progress on their projects, setting themselves up for success in their assignments. Some students even finished their projects, and began preparing for the debate this coming Friday by analyzing the possible arguments they could face, and reviewing the source materials that will help them form better arguments.

Aside the project work, students also got to relax at the dorm. Some went to the gym or outdoors to have some active time, where others hung around the dorms and talked with their friends, recounting their favorite parts of the Gettysburg trip, and the seminar in general. Many chose to rest up after the long trip yesterday, recharging for the busy week ahead. Overall a very relaxing yet productive day back at the dorms.

July 22, 2023

On Saturday the students traveled to their first non-local field trip. The cohort left campus bright and early to arrive at the Gettysburg National Military Park at around 10:00. Once they got off the bus they were met with blue skies and green fields.

Cooper pointing to the direction of the incoming army.

The day before the students had read Lincoln’s House Divided speech (1858) and First Inaugural (1861). Once they got to the battlefield students used the two documents to situate themselves in the Battle of Gettysburg. Students then applied their close reading skills by making astute observations about the geography of the battlefield, specifically how the picturesque landscape was deceptive, and the way it shaped the events of the battle. Some of them even recreated scenes of the battle behind the cannon carriages. Later that day students also viewed a cyclorama of the battlefield at the Gettysburg Visitor’s Center which reinforced the information that they learned on the battlefield.

Ava O., Elena, Ava F. and Safira recreating a battle scene.

Walking through the battlefield the students were surrounded by monuments. One particular monument, dedicated in 1917 by the state of Virginia, depicted Robert E. Lee perched on his horse with Confederate soldiers at the base. Professor Pinsker guided a group discussion on the difference between memorializing controversial figures in historical sites vs. public spaces. The students reasoned through the discussion like historians making apt observations and interpretations.

Lindsay Bowman speaking to a small group of students about Philip Hamlin.

The students also traveled to the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. Before entering the cemetery, the students discussed the intended audience of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Standing where Lincoln had stood 160 years ago to deliver his address, they used visual cues to investigate its meaning. Once inside they had the opportunity to engage with the legacies of the soldiers who had fought and died at Gettysburg. They learned about soldiers like Sgt. Philip Hamlin from TA Lindsay Bowman. One student was even able to locate one of her ancestors who was buried in the cemetery. All things considered, the visit deepened the student’s understanding of the text by allowing them to visually contextualize it.

Maelin, Sadiyah, Ava and Scarlette posing next to a statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Visitors Center.

Coming Full Circle

Today my classmates at the 2023 Knowledge For Freedom Seminar and I traveled to Gettysburg. We started the day off by touring several battlefield sites, then made our way to the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

A photo of Private Frederick Gilhousen

Pvt. Frederick Gilhousen

Visiting the cemetery was particularly interesting for me, because my four times great-grandfather died at the Battle of Gettysburg and was buried there. His name was Frederick Gilhousen and he was a Private in the Union Army.

This seminar has included a lot of full circle moments for me, but visiting my ancestor’s grave was by far the most impactful. I’ve wanted to visit the Gettysburg Cemetery since I was assigned a genealogy project in first grade that led to me discover both my great- grandfather and my love for politics and history. A love that would eventually lead me to apply to the Knowledge for Freedom Seminar at Dickinson.

Gravestone. Reads : Frederick Gilhousen, Company: ? Regiment: 148

My great-grandpa’s grave at Gettysburg

The woman who assigned me that genealogy project all those years ago is the mother of a Dickinson Alumni and the person who first introduced me to the college when I was in 9th grade.



Me and a statue of Abraham Lincoln


July 21, 2023

Posing Outside of Old West

Friday marked the end of the first school week of the Knowledge for Freedom Seminar. Students had been working hard for the past four days to understand their documents and upcoming assignments, so by the afternoon they deserved a break in the form of fun activities. After an engaging presentation by the League of Women Voters, the students gathered in the downstairs common room back at the dorm to receive their instructions for the impending scavenger hunt. This scavenger hunt was not ordinary. It revolved around the Dickinson College campus and, more specifically, the Dickinson & Slavery report that each student had received upon their arrival to campus.

Pointing to Confederate Shell Damage

Each team consisted of 3-4 students and one RA/TA. They had to solve clues and take a creative photo at each of the respective spots, examples of which you can see below. The scavenger hunt was tiring, but successful. Many teams chose to run to each of their clue locations, leaving many students (and all the TAs) sweaty and worn out.

Thankfully, the night ended calmly with the movie Lincoln, which students viewed in an on-campus auditorium. This viewing was timely, with students watching Daniel Day-Lewis’ portrayal of President Lincoln just hours before traveling to Gettysburg National Military Park for an exciting Saturday field trip. We hope to see you back here tomorrow as we recap the adventures of the weekend.

Avoiding the Seal on Britton Plaza

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt stop

Team Boiling Springs reading their invisible course textbooks

Today we held our second annual, highly competitive scavenger hunt around Dickinson’s campus. I assigned teams randomly by picking names out of a hat. As luck would have it, three Boiling Springs students – Ben, Joey, and Madison – ended up on my team. Clues were related to the Dickinson & Slavery initiative, preserved damage from the Confederate shelling of Carlisle, and some Dickinson College lore. It was a lot of fun – and I’m not just saying that because my team won!


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