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About the Institute

In 2009, the Thomas Paine National Historical Association (founded in 1884) chose Iona College to preserve and develop its rich collection of writings and other items by and about Thomas Paine. The Thomas Paine National Historical Association (TPNHA) Collection is, like the man himself, of both national and international significance. In the 1990s, a lack of resources at the TPNHA meant that for far too long, these inspiring archival materials, from first editions to coins depicting Paine's trial for treason, were neither properly stored and secured, nor broadly available for exhibition to scholars or the general public. Inspired by the bestowal of this collection, the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies was established to be the premier academic center for the preservation, study, and dissemination of Thomas Paine's life story, work, and global legacy through stewardship of related archival material and development of educational programming.

Disdained by many at the time of his death, Paine's ideas have recently enjoyed a renaissance among liberal and conservative thinkers alike. The establishment of this Institute creates an unprecedented academic affiliation for a long neglected national treasure of American history and thought.

In collaboration with the TPNHA, the Institute illuminates and studies Thomas Paine's life and legacy in two complementary ways:

First, through the TPNHA Collection, now housed in Ryan Library, Iona College both cares for and makes accessible one of the richest collections of materials by and about Thomas Paine.

Second, through publications, conferences, exhibitions, internships, fellowships, and grants, as well as undergraduate and graduate curricula, the Institute provides students and faculty at Iona, members of the communities where Thomas Paine lived and worked, and the rest of the world with an exceptional opportunity to study and learn about one of the intellectual founders of our nation.

t is our belief that such programming will cure a long-standing and unacceptable lack of academic affiliation for Paine.

Programs, Projects and Exhibits

  • The Text Analysis Project: This project entails the use of computers for SVM and other original computer analyses of eighteenth-century writings in order to determine if Paine has authored texts which have hitherto only been linked to him by innuendo or have never been linked to him at all. Likewise, the project aims to correct misattributions of Paine's authorship and establish which pseudonymously published writings, a frequent eighteenth-century authorial practice, may have been written by Paine. The first paper from the Project will be delivered in July 2013 at the Eighth International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences in Prague, Czech Republic.

  • Minor in Thomas Paine Studies: A multi- and inter-disciplinary minor has been created in Paine Studies. The core curriculum will include courses in History, English, Political Science, and Philosophy, two of which have already been offered.

  • Thomas Paine Internships: These internships give students from a wide array of disciplines the experience of working with the faculty and staff of the ITPS on projects using the TPNHA collection.

  • The First International Conference of Thomas Paine Studies: An international gathering of professional, graduate and undergraduate scholars, historical associations, and individuals dedicated to the study of Thomas Paine, his ideas, and their legacy, was held in October 2012. Scholars from around the world gathered, 34 papers were presented, and Lewis Lapham gave the keynote address. In subsequent years, the conference will be held in France and England in order to establish a cooperative, international approach to Paine scholarship.

  • Exhibits:

    • "An Unpublished Thomas Paine Letter to Garat from 1800" features a letter never published from Paine to a French leader. The letter is written in both French and English, and the University of Paris is linked to provide various translations. (Ryan Library, Summer 2013)

    • "Thomas Paine in New Rochelle" exhibit will be displayed at the TPNHA building as part of New Rochelle's 325th Anniversary celebration. (June 2013)

    • "The Adventures of Thomas Paine's Bones" exhibit reveals the legacy of Thomas Paine bones which have, sadly as well as allegedly, become scattered all over the globe due to the removal of his body to England by William Cobbett. (Currently at the TPNHA building)

    • "The First Great Disinformation Campaign: The Use of Slander in Political Cartoons to Discredit the Political Philosophy of Thomas Paine". This exhibit assembled cartoons used to undermine Paine's influence with the British and American people in the 1790s.

    • "Conference Exhibit", displayed in Ryan Library during the conference in October featured rare documents along with personal effects.

    • "An Introduction to the TPNHA Collection" exhibit featured the wide range of artifacts held in the Collection, from Paine's personal effects, to rare books about Paine, and early editions of Paine's writings. (Ryan Library, Summer 2012)

  • Thomas Paine Grants: These grants catalyze the development of courses, research, and programming which draw upon Paine's life and legacy. Examples of previous grants include the development of a History Seminar on the Politics of Thomas Paine (HST 410), the production of the play Citizen Paine, and the incorporation of writings by Paine into English composition classes (ENG 120).
  • Common Sense and the Common Core: A primary focus of the ITPS is the development of K -12 curriculum for free distribution to teachers in Westchester County, New York, and throughout the United States. Working with Paine experts and faculty, students in education will create lesson plans using excerpts from Paine's Common Sense, Crisis, and other works, which will be posted on this website for use by teachers.

  • The Thomas Paine Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive educational and research resource dedicated to the life, work, and legacy of Thomas Paine. It features a forty page biography with accompanying period maps and graphics, quotations by topic, the major works and links to the complete works, and a political cartoon history of attacks on Paine. The app is designed for public and classroom use, and is available from ITPS FREE.

About Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine (February 9, 1737 - June 8, 1809) was an author, philosopher, revolutionary (in America, England, and France), and a "Founding Father" of the United States. His writings about equality, liberty, religion, reason, and economic opportunity helped to ignite many revolutions, most notably, the American and French revolutions, and they continue to influence the political, cultural and economic debates of our own age. While Paine was born in Thetford, England, he was truly a "man of the world," who spent his life developing, debating, and fighting for his ideals in many well-known places, notably Philadelphia, New York, London, and Paris. After spending his final years in Greenwich Village, he was buried on his farm in New Rochelle just a quarter mile from where Iona College now stands.