The ancestor of every action is a thought.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Spiritual Laws"

a Wisdom of Thought


We believe in the ideal of the "American Scholar," in whom a knowledge of books is balanced by experience of nature and practical activity in the world. The foundation provides a place and a way where these three come together in one unity of conversation, from which all alike may take away what is most useful to them in the pursuit of their own work. We believe in the ideals of the mind, the whole mind, the mind made whole with the entirety of life. We seek the living forms of a higher learning in the deepest foundations of experience. 

ih books bible etc.jpg

If you wish to undertake an adventure of ideas, we invite you to join with us in scholarship and conversation as we pursue the abiding ideals of the mind. 

Write to Us


What is the remedy? They did not yet see, and thousands of young men as hopeful now crowding to the barriers for the career, do not yet see, that, if the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him. Patience, — patience; — with the shades of all the good and great for company; and for solace, the perspective of your own infinite life; and for work, the study and the communication of principles, the making those instincts prevalent, the conversion of the world... We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The American Scholar"








Mr. William Barker lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, and advises the Foundation in all matters concerning Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Barker is associated with Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello and Poplar Forest, where he is the nation's leading scholar-interpreter of America's Founding Father. He is one half professional actor, one half professional scholar, and, if one may say so, a third half Thomas Jefferson himself. He has created a unique career for himself, and embodies a rare and living knowledge of our founding ideals, challenges and possibilities. 

Dr. Phyllis Cole lives in Pennsylvania and advises the Foundation in the field of American women in Transcendentalism, upon which she is the leading authority. Dr. Cole is Professor Emerita of English, Women's Studies and American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. Among other works, she is author of the beautiful book, Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism. She is past president of the Emerson Society and current president of the Margaret Fuller Society. Dr. Cole is a scholar and teacher beloved of many for her great generosity of spirit.

Dr. Thomas Constantinesco lives in Paris, France, and advises the Foundation on the study of Ralph Waldo Emerson and American Transcendentalism from a continental European perspective. Dr. Constantinesco is Lecturer on 19th Century American Literature at the University of Paris, has previously taught at Oxford and Yale, and is a director of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society at Texas A&M University. His research interests lie particularly in the relation of Transcendentalism to the broader field of 19th century literature, philosophy and politics.

Ms. Joanna Clyde Findley lives in Sausalito, California, and advises the Foundation at the academic and clinical crossroads of psychology, art and neuroscience. Ms. Findlay is a practicing psychotherapist and Adjunct Professor of Art at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She publishes widely on the neurobiology of art, and maintains an active practice in art therapy, with clients from preschool age to mature adults. Joanna understands Innermost House as living myth, and its program of outreach as culturally therapeutic at a fundamental level of public experience.

Dr. Charles Fracchia lives in San Francisco and advises the Foundation on San Francisco and California history. Dr. Fracchia has published many books on the history of San Francisco, is the Founder and Chairman of the San Francisco Historical Society and Museum, and is a Fellow of the California Historical Society. He has taught at the City College of San Francisco, San Francisco State and the University of San Francisco. Dr. Fracchia understands the work of the foundation as another chapter in California's search for the ideal.

Mr. Michael Frederick lives in Concord, Massachusetts, and advises the Foundation in a variety of matters concerning Henry David Thoreau, Walden, and literary nonprofit work. Mr. Frederick is the Executive Director of the Thoreau Society, the oldest and largest author society in America. He was educated at Harvard University and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. He has been a faithful friend and champion of Innermost House in scholarly circles for years, and continues to guide the foundation in matters of academic and cultural outreach. 

Dr. Robert Gross lives in Concord, Massachusetts, and advises the foundation in the historical context of American Transcendentalism and the Republicanism of the founding generation. Dr. Gross is Draper Professor of Early American History at the University of Connecticut and past Director of American Studies at the College of William & Mary. He is author of the Bancroft Prize-winning classic, The Minutemen and their World, and its forthcoming sequel, The Transcendentalists and their World, as well as publishing widely to general audiences.

Dr. Nikita Pokrovsky lives in Moscow, Russia, and advises the Foundation in its relation to the perennial idea of simple living in general, and to international Thoreau studies in particular. Dr. Pokrovsky is Chairman of General Sociology at the Higher School of Economics University in Moscow, President of the Society of Professional Sociologists, and Russia's leading scholar of Henry David Thoreau and American Transcendentalism. He is also creator of a parallel experiment in Thoreavian simplicity with a Walden replica cabin and writer's retreat in the forests of Siberia.

Dr. David E. Shi lives in the highlands of North Carolina and advises the Foundation on American history and the simple life in America. Dr. Shi is President Emeritus and Professor of History at Furman University, where is also founder of the Shi Center for Sustainability. He is the author of the best-selling text, America: A Narrative History, as well as many other books, including the classic, The Simple Life: Plain Living and High Thinking in American Culture, the one book that provides the essential link between Innermost House and the inward strain of American history.

Dr. John Stauffer lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and advises the Foundation on the African American experience and Transcendentalism. Dr. Stauffer is Professor of English and American Literature, American Studies and African American Studies at Harvard University. He is a leading authority on 19th century American culture, antislavery and the Civil War era, and the art of photography, and is the author of nineteen books and many articles, including the stunning biography, Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.


Dr. William Swagerty lives in Stockton, California, and represents the literary and environmental legacy of John Muir to the Foundation. Dr. Swagerty is Professor of History and Co-Director of the John Muir Center at the University of the Pacific. He has served as visiting scientist at the National Museum of Natural History and fellow at the Ford Foundation and the National Park Service, and is currently a Fulbright Senior Specialist. His specialties include John Muir and the native peoples, the prehistory of North America, and the economic dynamics of human subsistence.

Dr. Roger Thompson lives in New York and advises the Foundation in its association with academic, literary and artistic institutions. Dr. Thompson is Associate Professor and Program Chair of Writing and Rhetoric at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He also serves as Program Chair of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society, and as Senior Editor for Don't Take Pictures, a leading professional magazine of fine art photography. Dr. Thompson understands the work of the Foundation as a woodland experiment in the larger tradition of Humane Letters. 

Brother George Van Grieken, FSC lives in Napa, California, and advises the foundation on monastic culture and spirituality. Brother George is President Emeritus of St. Joseph's Institution International, Singapore, and a Director of St. Mary's College and the Lasallian schools. Eight years ago, he was among the first to recognize Innermost House as an underived, original American expression of the monastic impulse, and guides the Foundation from his perspective as a professional monastic and representative of one of the world's great spiritual traditions.

Dr. Robert C. Wilburn lives in Washington DC and advises the Foundation across the whole field of cultural philanthropy. Dr. Wilburn is President and CEO of the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation, and President Emeritus of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Gettysburg Foundation, the Carnegie Institute and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is the nation's leading chief executive of cultural nonprofit institutions, with uniquely broad experience and special expertise in large capital programs of institutional renewal.


Page Index