Origins of the Summer Seminar

Picture of Graduate Summer seminar Class of 1982

Class of 1982

The Summer Seminar in Numismatics was first offered in 1952; however, its origins date back almost two decades earlier, when the Society first began its efforts to educate students in the study of numismatics. At that time, in the mid-1930’s, this effort was limited to having the Society’s Curator conduct lectures at local New York City schools and other private schools across the country. By the mid 1940’s the Society had established its first scholarship: the Edward T. Newell Fellowship. The purpose of this program was to enable one student each year to study the tremendous collection of coins that Newell bequeathed to the Society upon his untimely death in 1941.

It was apparent by the early 1950’s, however, that the Newell Scholarship program was not meetings its original goals; students were spending much of their time in routine tasks administering the collection, rather than studying it for scholarly purposes. With this in mind, the Society proposed in 1951 to establish a “summer workshop” for graduate students, in which students could familiarize themselves with a particular area of study, meet visiting scholars and, finally, develop a paper using numismatics in research. The first such seminar was offered the following summer in 1952, with thirteen students attending. A $500 stipend was provided.

When reflecting upon the success of that first seminar, Louis C. West, ANS President (1949-59), noted that:

[t]hese students and their successors help to insure the continuing usefulness of the efforts of those collectors whose former possessions are now in our vaults or on our shelves…. We are not now, and I hope that we never shall be, merely a storehouse for the preservation of inanimate objects. Rather, we are striving to have our possessions and facilities used for serious study, for the increase of knowledge and particularly for the stimulation and encouragement of real scholarship that is equipped to interpret fully the coinages of the past.

The Graduate Summer Seminar has been held every year since 1952, with the exception of 1973, when the ANS was co-sponsoring the International Numismatic Congress, 2000, and 2008, when the Society’s efforts were focused on its relocation to its new headquarters.