Teaching Reading Through Historical Sources

Paxton_massacre

Do you want to teach your students how to think historically?  Do you want to teach them to read in a deeper way?  Do you want to teach them about the past?

If your answer to all these questions is a resounding “yes” (as it should be), you will like this piece at Education Week. Reporter Sarah Schwartz spent some time with the teachers attending a Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History summer seminar on native American history at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Here is a taste of her piece:

Gathering in small groups around folding tables laden with 250-year-old maps, pamphlets, and images, the teachers thought aloud about what the documents could tell their students—and what questions the pages couldn’t answer.

“Even before getting into information—who wrote this?” said Mark Stetina, a local middle school history teacher, pouring over a political cartoon and imagining how he would introduce it to his students. “Then, almost more important is—who’s missing?” he said. This question of missing voices was central to the day’s workshop, part of a project at the Library Company called Redrawing History. The library has digitized hundreds of documents about this massacre, but almost none are from Native American sources. Now, the organization is working with native artists to create an original graphic novel that attempts to recover some of those voices.

For teachers, the workshop offered a look into the archives and lessons on how to use the forthcoming novel. And it raised a question about teaching history: How do you paint a full picture of the past for your students when some voices have long been silenced?

Since the introduction of the Common Core State Standards a decade ago, teachers have been encouraged to give primary sources a more prominent place in the classroom. The standards emphasize close analysis of texts across subject areas, which in history and social studies can mean reading these kinds of archival documents. In the years since, both the U.S. Library of Congress and the National Archives have expanded their digital collections in an effort to make resources available for teachers.

Read the entire piece here.

By the way, you can view of a lot of the sources used in this Gilder-Lehrman seminar at the Digital Paxton website.

From Princeton to Williamsburg!

TWOILH at Williamsburg

In 1773, a recent graduate of the College of New Jersey at Princeton from the southern New Jersey town of Greenwich went to Virginia to teach the children of a wealthy plantation owner.

The tutor was Philip Vickers Fithian.  The planter was Robert Carter III.  Carter’s plantation was called Nomini Hall, but he also had a house in Williamsburg.

I wrote about Fithian’s experience in my book The Way of Improvement Leads Home: The Rural Enlightenment in Early America.  The teachers in my Gilder-Lehrman seminar on colonial America read the book during their week in Princeton.

So perhaps it is fitting that some alums from the Princeton Seminar traveled, like Fithian, to Williamsburg this week.  And look what they found on sale in the Colonial Williamsburg bookstore!

Thanks for sharing Jamie, Jen, and Tracy!

2019 Princeton Seminar: Day 6

Princeton Seminar 2019 clay and nate

New friends were made this week: Nate and Clay, a history teacher from Chattanooga

The sixth and final day of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History summer seminar on colonial America is in the books.  What a week!  We had an amazing group of inspiring teachers in the seminar this year.  I am so privileged to be able to know them, teach them, share meals with them, and learn from them.  I will miss this group.

Thanks to Gilder-Lehrman for making it all happen!

Princeton Seminar 2019--Fea with Diana

Diane from Kansas!

I began class yesterday with a lecture on the First Great Awakening.  I defined “evangelical religion,” told some stories about George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, and discussed how this religious revival influenced colonial religion, education, women, and rhetoric.

Princeton Seminar Fea Last day

The second morning session was devoted to Q&A.  Teachers asked questions about The Way of Improvement Leads Home, my approach to research, and my views on the current state of history in schools, colleges, and universities.

After lunch I tried to bring everything together in a final lecture titled “From Colonials to Provincials: The British-American Colonies on the Eve of Revolution.”  The lecture was followed by some spirited conversation.

In the afternoon, the teachers presented the lessons plans they have been working on all week. Nate McAlister does an incredible job of teaching these educators how to teach literacy through the study of history.  He is the heart and soul of the Princeton Seminar.

PRinceton Seminar 2019 Teachers Discussing

 

We ended the night hanging out with some teachers at the Bent Spoon in Princeton.

After two weeks of work with Gilder-Lehrman in Mount Vernon, Boston, and Princeton, I am ready to go home, but I leave these experienced energized and ready to get back to work on writing and teaching projects.  Stay tuned.

Princeton Seminar 2019--Mabel

I signed some books!

2019 Princeton Seminar: Day 4

PRinceton Seminar 2019 at Welcome Park

Our annual picture in Welcome Park

Day 4 of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History summer seminar on colonial America is in the books.  We spent the entire day in colonial Philadelphia with George Boudreau, author of Independence: A Guide to Historical Philadelphia.

George took us on a very informative tour of the site of William Penn’s house, Front Street (the site of the 17th and 18th-century wharfs), the site of the London Coffee Shop (where slave trading took place), the site where George Whitefield preached to tens of thousands of people (as described by Ben Franklin in his Autobiography), Franklin Square and the underground museum, the William White House, Carpenter’s Hall, and the site of Anthony Benezet’s school for women and free blacks.  The teachers also toured the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) and some of them joined me for quick stops at the Free Quaker Meeting House, Franklin’s grave, Arch Street Meeting House, Betsy Ross House, and Christ Church).

Here are some pics:

Princeton Seminar 2019 Bus

Princeton Seminar 2019-- George and Sign

When you are in Philadelphia with George Boudreau you fix historical markers that are pointing the wrong way

Princeton Seminar 2019--George, Me, and Nate

The Philadelphia team

Princeton Seminar 2019--George and Super

George introduced us to Cynthia MacLeod, Superintendent of Independence National Historical Park.  What a treat!

On the Road in Late July

Fea at Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon Museum

I am in the at the midpoint of two weeks of work with the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History.  As some of you know, this last week I was in Mount Vernon, Virginia and Boston filming a 12-week lecture course on colonial America for elementary school history and social studies teachers.  We filmed the lectures in a hotel in Framingham, Massachusetts and filmed five-minute lecture introductions in the tobacco fields and at the slave quarters at Mount Vernon, the Reynolds Museum at Mount Vernon, the Boston Long Wharf, Old South Meetinghouse, King’s Chapel Burial Ground, the Massachusetts State House, Harvard University, the Boston Public Library, and Boston College.  It was hot and the work was rigorous (one day I gave five 50-minutes lectures to a camera!), but this kind of work is rewarding and hopefully useful to teachers–the men and women on the front lines of preserving, sustaining, and strengthening our democracy.

Fea at Mansion

Thanks to the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for the opportunity to work on this course.  And special thanks to Sarah Jannarone and Peter Shea of Gilder-Lehrman and Garrett Kafchinski of Diagonal Media for all their hard work this week.

I understand that this course will be published at the Gilder-Lehrman website as part of its forthcoming “History Essentials” series sometime next year. Stay tuned

Fea Boston Public

With a 1656 map of New Spain at the Boston Public Library map room

Tomorrow I will be back in Princeton for what is becoming an annual event:  the Gilder Lehrman Institute summer seminar on Colonial America.  Stay tuned.  I will be blogging every day from Princeton.  (Click here to see some of my posts from 2018).  As always, I will be working with Nate McAlister. Nate is my partner-in-crime, a high school history teacher in Kansas, and the 2010 National History Teacher of the Year!

Here are some pics from 2018. I am hoping for another great week:

Princeton--Philly Trip

Philadelphia bound!

Princeton-Nate

Nate with a Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence

Princeton-Boudreau

In Philadelphia I introduced the teachers to the legendary George Boudreau

 

Princeton--Kidd

We ran into esteemed early American religious historian Thomas Kidd and some of his students in the Princeton graveyard

Princeton--Why

Finalists for George Washington Book Prize Announced

Vernon

Congrats to the nominees!

MOUNT VERNON, VA – Seven books published in 2018 by the country’s most prominent historians have been named finalists for the George Washington Prize. The annual award recognizes the past year’s best works on the nation’s founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance broad public understanding of early American history.

“This prestigious prize started in 2005, and I am delighted to say that this year has one of the strongest lists of books that we have ever seen,” said Dr. Doug Bradburn, Mount Vernon President & CEO. “Clearly, we are in a golden age for writing on the founding of the United States, and I very much hope we can get the attention of the American people around their founding stories—things that we have in common that we share that make us one people. Now is the time for us to redouble our efforts to teach the story of American history to our citizens.”

Created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and Washington College, the $50,000 George Washington Prize is one of the nation’s largest and most notable literary awards.

Written to engage a wide public audience, the selected books provide a “go-to” reading list for anyone interested in learning more about George Washington, his contemporaries, and the founding of the United States of America.

The 2019 George Washington Prize finalists are:

  • Colin Calloway, The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation (Oxford University Press)
  • Stephen Fried, Rush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father (Crown)
  • Catherine Kerrison, Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America (Ballantine Books)
  • Joyce Lee Malcolm, The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold: An American Life (Pegasus Books)
  • Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Hurricane’s Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown (Viking)
  • Russell Shorto, Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom (W.W. Norton & Company)
  • Peter Stark, Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding Father (Harper Collins)

Loyalism in the Age of Revolutions (#AHA19)

loyalists

Matt Lakemacher of Woodland Middle School on Gurnee, IL is doing yeoman’s work from the floor of the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Chicago.  Here is latest.  Enjoy!  (Read all of Matt’s posts here).  –JF

I wrote a research paper last semester on the ways in which evangelical women used religion to interpret and defend the American Revolution.  I included a section on Phillis Wheatley, but rather than rekindle the debate here over whether or not she was an evangelical, I’ll save that for my post on Saturday’s session, “Who is Evangelical?  Confronting Race in American Christianity.”  The original plan for my paper had been to include Loyalist women, whose evangelical faith led them to the opposite position, but space and time constraints forced me to narrow my focus to Patriots only.  Thus, I was thrilled to see two sessions titled “Loyalism in the Age of the Atlantic Revolutions” on the agenda today at AHA19.  Both sessions were arranged by AHA President Mary Beth Norton.

I’d be remiss at this point to not put a plug in for my graduate program, which is offered through the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, in cooperation with Pace University.  The program offers K-12 history teachers, such as myself, the chance to earn an MA in American History online for a fraction of the cost of most graduate programs, and best of all, the lectures are all led by preeminent historians in their respective fields.  The professor of my course last semester on women and the American Revolution was none other than Carol Berkin, who chaired the second session today on new research.

Timothy Compeau started that session off with his paper “Retributive Justice? Loyalist Revenge and Honorable Manhood in the American Revolution.”  It offered a fascinating look at the ways in which Christian virtue and masculine honor culture were in conflict during the Revolutionary Era and how this acutely affected Loyalist men.  According to Compeau, these men provide an excellent window into studying that culture.  He pointed out how Patriots specifically attacked the manhood of Loyalist men, such as when Alexander Hamilton claimed that Samuel Seabury was impotent or when Thomas Paine wrote that Tories were unfit to be husbands or fathers.  He also explained how due to the war, Loyalist men were limited in the ways that they could respond to such questions of honor.  Many chose Christian responses of forgiveness and restraint, out of necessity if not desire.  But some did find ways to square the use of retributive violence with their Christian faith.  In the end, many Loyalist men were able to claim that their choice had been the more masculine one, as it took greater manhood than the Patriots had to suffer all the indignities that were forced upon them.  As Compeau succinctly put it, “by defending the Crown, loyal men gained nothing put honor.”

Elite, white, Loyalist women of the Delaware River Valley were the focus of Kacy Tillman’s paper and she brought up names that were familiar from my own research, such as Grace Growden Galloway and Elizabeth Drinker.  Tillman sought to parse some of the differences among such Loyalist women.  Some were what she called active Loyalists, others were passive Loyalists.  Some assumed the label while others had it attached to them.  And many of them were Loyalist by association, be it familial, religious, or both.  Tillman’s thesis was that all of these women faced violations of their bodies and their writings (“stripped and script,” as the title of her paper aptly put it) as a result of their Loyalism.  One of the things she noticed in her research was that one can learn just as much from what these women didn’t write than what they did.  Perhaps that’s why I had such difficultly using those sources for my own paper.  “It’s hard to read for silence,” Tillman said.  “But we have to be able to do so when reading the letters of Loyalist women.”

James Sidbury rounded out the session with some words of reassurance related to my own experience in researching Loyalists.  He started off his talk by defending the truism that history is often written by the winners, but then qualified that observation.  “There’s been a whole lot written about the Revolution,” he said.  “It’s inevitable that something is going to be written about [Loyalists].”  His paper focused on the Black Loyalists from Nova Scotia who helped found the colony of Freetown in Sierra Leone.  Those colonists, while remaining loyal to the British Crown, led an uprising against the company that ran the colony and attempted to create an autonomous enclave within the colony by using many of the Enlightenment ideals of rights and governance they had learned in Anglo-America.  As Sidbury’s talk made clear, despite the Nova Scotians’ embrace of some American ideals, the new United States explicitly excluded non-whites from political participation.  Thus, it makes sense that monarchical government still held much ideological appeal for Black Loyalists in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions.

Thanks again, Matt!

The Gilder-Lehrman “Princeton Seminar” on the Colonial Era is Back! Apply Now!

36167-nassau_hall_princeton

We are entering Year 6 of the seminar. Join us in Princeton this summer!  Read posts from the last six years here.

Here are details from the Gilder-Lehrman website:

DIRECTORS
John Fea, Professor of History, Messiah College

OVERVIEW
Rather than thinking about colonial America as a necessary forerunner to the American Revolution or the birth of the United States, we will make an effort to understand British colonial life on its own terms, examining how the colonies developed from remote seventeenth-century English outposts to well-connected eighteenth-century provinces of the British Empire. In the process we will critique the so-called “Whig” interpretation of the colonies and think together about how this particular period in the American past provides a laboratory for teaching historical thinking skills in the classroom.

TRAVEL & ACCOMMODATIONS
Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements; the Institute will reimburse up to $400 in travel expenses. Read the policy here. Participants will be staying at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ. Princeton is equidistant from New York City and Philadelphia and is easily accessible by train. The nearest airport is Newark Liberty International Airport. For more information on travel to Princeton, please click here.

Workshop participants will stay in on-campus residence halls in their own room, but share bathrooms and common space on each floor. The university provides basic bedding and towels only. Please note that participants should plan to bring alarm clocks, shower shoes, hangers, irons, and hair dryers. Participants should plan to bring laptops as computer access on campus will be limited.

MEALS
Meals will be served in a university cafeteria in space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

POLICIES
Please be sure to review the Institute’s policies on independent school teacher participation and travel reimbursement before applying.

COURSE REVIEWS FROM PAST PARTICIPANTS
“Dr. John Fea did a remarkable job sharing his knowledge in the area of the 13 colonies. His passion for history is evident in his lectures and I am more motivated today to teach tomorrow. I have always been intimidated by the 13 colonies because each colony’s background is so diverse. I have a better grasp on the colonies and I will be able to share primary documents to support the classroom learning. I am looking forward to teaching this in the coming weeks.”

“Thoroughly enjoyed the week in NJ. Strengthened my content background & walked away with tons of resources (primary specifically) to take back to my classroom.”

“This seminar was the best thing I have experienced in 25 years of teaching. Dr. Fea was outstanding and his lectures were riveting. I appreciated the content, the setting, and the master teacher’s assistance. It was amazing and memorable. I will certainly be applying this content and these principles to my teaching this year.”

QUESTIONS?
Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

Seminar Year: 2018-2019

2018 Princeton Seminar: Day 6

2018 Princeton Sat 4And that’s a wrap.

Yesterday was the final day of the 2018 Gilder-Lehrman seminar on colonial America at Princeton University.  It was another great week with 34 teachers from around the country.

The last day of the seminar is my favorite.  We talked about Philip Vickers Fithian, the “rural Enlightenment,” the First Great Awakening, and the Britishness of the American colonies on the eve of the American Revolution.  In the afternoon, the teachers presented their lesson plans to their colleagues in the class.

It was a wonderful week.  I always learn so much from these teachers. Their passion for history and history education inspire me.  But this week was different.  As many of you know, I have spent the last year or so thinking and writing about evangelicals and Donald Trump.  My return to the 17th and 18th centuries this week was a refreshing refuge for me.  It renewed my commitment to continue my work in early America and gave me an intellectual jump start on a book I am writing on the American Revolution.

Thanks to everyone who made this week happen:  George Boudreau, the staff at Princeton University, the seminar staff at Gilder-Lehrman, the teachers willing to commit a week to an intensive study of colonial America, and especially my partner-in-crime and seminar coordinator Nate McAlister.

We will be back next year!

2018 Princeton Sat 3

2018 Princeton Sat 2

2018 Princeton Sat 1

2018 Princeton Sat. 6

2018 Princeton Sat 5

 

Princeton Seminar: Day 5

Princeton 2018 Fri 5

Our fearless leader Nate McAlister with a Dunlap broadside of the Declaration of Independence.  Only 25 exist and Princeton’s Firestone Library has one of them.

Read all of our Princeton Seminar 2018 posts here.

It was another busy day yesterday at the Gilder-Lehrman Summer Seminar for teachers on the “colonial era.”  The teachers heard lectures on women and dissent in Puritan New England, slave culture in 18th-century South Carolina, and the Enlightenment in America. (My voice is recovering after 4-hours of lecturing!)

The highlight of the day was our annual visit to the Firestone Library Rare Books Department.  Curator Eric White pulled some classic early American texts for us to examine and even broke out one of the original July 4 Dunlap broadsides of the Declaration of Independence.  In addition, we got a look at works by William Bradford Increase Mather, Cotton Mather, John Eliot, William Penn, John Locke, Samuel Richardson, Laurence Sterne, Addison and Steele, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Samuel Smith, Thomas Paine, and Phillis Wheatley.

I love watching the teachers get excited about encountering these documents.  Some of them were moved to tears.

One more day to go!

Princeton 2018 Fri 4

Princeton Fri. 3

Princeton 2018 Fri 3

Princeton 2018 Fri 1

2017 Princeton Seminar: Day 2

Tour

Today the teachers got a tour of early American Princeton

Monday was a long and busy day at the Princeton Seminar.

We began with a morning of lecture and discussion about how we should think about “colonial America.”  I tried to get the teachers to think historically about the colonies and try to rid themselves of a Whig-centered interpretation of the period.  In the process we spent a lot of time talking about the difference between a “civics” approach to the past and a “historical thinking” approach to the past.   I challenged the teachers to try to understand the colonial American past on its own terms and, at least for a week, pretend that the American Revolution never happened.

I also introduced the teachers to what has been called “The New Indian” history.  What might our understanding of colonial America look like if we examine it from the perspective of native Americans?  I focused this lecture around three concepts: “Facing East” (Dan Richter), the “Indians’ New World” (James Merrell), and the “Middle Ground” (Richard White).

Finally, we got started with a lecture on the colonial Chesapeake and tried to make sense of why so many people starved to death in the early years of Jamestown.  We will be finishing this discussion today by carrying the Virginia story through Bacon’s Rebellion.

In the afternoon, Nate McAlister introduced the teachers to their lesson-plan assignment. Every teacher needs to pick a primary source from the colonial era and write a lesson that they can use with their students.   It is always fun to see the documents that they choose and the lessons that they design.

After dinner we split into two groups and got a historical tour of Princeton.  My tour guide, Leslie, was excellent.  She took us through Princeton University, Princeton Theological Seminary, the home of Albert Einstein, the home of Richard Stockton (Morven), and the Princeton Battlefield Monuments.  We got caught in the middle of a thunderstorm while visiting Einstein’s house, but Leslie pushed us through.  There we were–standing outside of Morven in the pouring ran listening to Leslie expound upon the life of Stockton.  These teachers are real troopers!

About half of us ended the night at the Yankee Doodle Tap Room at Princeton’s Nassau Inn.  This is the place where the Princeton Seminar goes to solve all world problems. Tonight was no exception!

Looking forward to day 3!  Stay tuned.

2017 Princeton Seminar: Day 1

GL

The Gilder-Lehrman 2017 Princeton Seminar on colonial America is underway!

Last night we held our opening dinner with the teachers.  A few teachers had some difficulties with flights, but everyone is now here and settled into their rooms on the Princeton University campus.  This year we have 35 history teachers representing 20 states: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhoda Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

My partner-in-crime Nate McAlister (did I mention he was National History of the Year in 2010?) got the teachers started on a gargoyle scavenger hunt on the Princeton campus. We also took a brief tour of the eighteenth-century campus.  All of the attendees read The Way of Improvement Leads Home and seem eager to see sites related to Philip VIckers Fithian.

The teachers will be busy this week. In addition to morning lectures on colonial America and afternoon sessions on interpreting primary sources, we will be spending the entire day on Wednesday touring colonial Philadelphia with LaSalle University public historian and tour guide extraordinaire George Boudreau.

On Monday afternoon we will be teaming-up with the Historical Society of Princeton for a tour of early American Princeton. On Thursday afternoon we will spend a couple of hours with a rare book librarian from Princeton University’s Firestone Library.  I have asked the librarian to pull first editions of every book Fithian read during his short life and most of the books I will discuss in morning lectures.  This is always one the highlights of the week.  Finally, we are hoping to spend some time at the Princeton cemetery where the teachers will get a chance to visit the grace of Aaron Burr Jr., Jonathan Edwards, John Witherspoon, and others.

It is going to be a great week!  Stay tuned for updates.  Check out pics at @princetonsemnr

Princeton Seminar Is About To Kick-Off Its Fourth Year

36167-nassau_hall_princetonNext week I will be at Princeton University to lead a Gilder-Lehrman Institute seminar of the “Colonial Era” for history teachers.  This is the fourth year that I have joined my partner in crime, 2010 National Teacher of the Year Nate McAlister, in leading this seminar. The Princeton Seminar (as we call it) has become one of the professional highlights of my year.

Stay tuned for updates as the week progresses.  In the meantime, here are some pics from previous Princeton seminars:

Welcome Park

The 2015 Princeton Seminar at Welcome Park in Philadelphia

Boudreau

George Boudreau of LaSalle University, the man who many believe to be the greatest tour guide of colonial Philadelphia that has ever lived, will be back in 2017!

McCalister

Nate likes to take the teachers into Einstein’s old classroom

Witherspoon

There is plenty of time for impromptu tours of the 18th-century Princeton campus

Documents

Teachers spend a lot of time working with primary sources

Fithian Wall

The teachers read The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  The ghost of Philip Vickers Fithian (Princeton class of 1772) hovers over the events of the week

Cemetery

Our visit to the Princeton Cemetery (Aaron Burr, Jonathan Edwards, John Witherspoon, etc.) is always a highlight–rain or shine.

Wheatley

One my favorite moments of the week is when we take the teachers to Firestone Library to look at rare 18th-century books

Lecture

And yes, there is the occasional lecture

New Summer Online Graduate Courses Through Gilder-Lehrman

The Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History has just announced their summer graduate course offerings.  These courses can be applied to an M.A. in Humanities (American History concentration) at Adams State University.

They are:

America in an Age of World Wars: World War I (Michael Neiberg, Army War College)

Historiography and Historical Methods (Multiple scholars)

Lincoln and Leadership (Michael Burlingame, University of Illinois-Springfield)

State Histories (Richard Loosbrock, Adams State University)

Learn more about these courses here.

The Princeton Seminar is Back!

nassay

On July 23-July 29, 2017 we will gather together with a group of K-8 teachers to study Colonial America.  I hope you will consider joining us.  Learn how to apply here.

LOCATION

Princeton University

DIRECTORS

John Fea, Professor of History, Messiah College

OVERVIEW

Rather than thinking about colonial America as a necessary forerunner to the American Revolution or the birth of the United States, we will make an effort to understand British colonial life on its own terms, examining how the colonies developed from remote seventeenth-century English outposts to well-connected eighteenth-century provinces of the British Empire. In the process we will critique the so-called “Whig” interpretation of the colonies and think together about how this particular period in the American past provides a laboratory for teaching historical-thinking skills in the K–8 classroom.

TRAVEL & ACCOMMODATIONS

Participants will be staying at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ. Princeton is equidistant from New York City and Philadelphia and is easily accessible by train. The nearest airport is Newark Liberty International Airport. For more information on travel to Princeton, please click here.

Workshop participants will stay in on-campus residence halls in their own room, but share bathrooms and common space on each floor. The university provides basic bedding and towels only. Please note that participants should plan to bring alarm clocks, shower shoes, hangers, irons, and hair dryers. Participants should plan to bring laptops as computer access on campus will be limited.

MEALS

Meals will be served in a university cafeteria in space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from the seminar. Each seminar participant will receive reimbursement of travel expenses up to $400. Please read our complete travel reimbursement policy before applying.

COURSE REVIEWS FROM PAST PARTICIPANTS

“Dr. John Fea did a remarkable job sharing his knowledge in the area of the 13 colonies. His passion for history is evident in his lectures and I am more motivated today to teach tomorrow. I have always been intimidated by the 13 colonies because each colony’s background is so diverse. I have a better grasp on the colonies and I will be able to share primary documents to support the classroom learning. I am looking forward to teaching this in the coming weeks.”

“Thoroughly enjoyed the week in NJ. Strengthened my content background & walked away with tons of resources (primary specifically) to take back to my classroom.”

“This seminar was the best thing I have experienced in 25 years of teaching. Dr. Fea was outstanding and his lectures were riveting. I appreciated the content, the setting, and the master teacher’s assistance. It was amazing and memorable. I will certainly be applying this content and these principles to my teaching this year.”

GRADUATE CREDIT

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is proud to announce its agreement with Adams State University to offer three hours of graduate credit to participating seminar teachers. For more information, please click here.

QUESTIONS?

Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

When
July 23rd, 2017 5:00 PM   through   July 29th, 2017 9:00 AM
Location
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
United States

The Reach of the Princeton Seminar Extends to Shelby County, Alabama!

Ann Jay

If you read The Way of Improvement Leads Home regularly you know that for the past three summers I have spent a week in Princeton, New Jersey leading a week-long seminar for teachers on the subject of colonial America.  The seminar is sponsored by The Gilder-Lehrman Institute of America History and it draws history teachers from around the country.

This year one of our more enthusiastic and engaged participants was Ann Jay Harrison, a veteran fifth-grade social studies teacher from Shelby County, Alabama.  It was a pleasure getting to know her.  I was inspired by her zeal for learning and her love of history.

My introduction to Ann Jay came through this tweet, written about a week before the seminar began:

And then there was this tweet from back in May:

I didn’t think too much about this tweet until the seminar began and I learned that Ann Jay has a side business AS A TRAVEL AGENT!!!!! 🙂

When Ann Jay returned home after the seminar she did an interview about her experience with The Shelby County Reporter.

Here is a taste:

When Thompson Intermediate School fifth-grade teacher Ann Jay Harrison began the 2016-2017 school year on August 11, she said she had a renewed passion for what she was doing.

“This is my 26th year teaching.  All of a sudden, I am so excited again about teaching in the classroom,” Harrison said.  “It definitely renewed my passion.”

From July 24-29, Harrison was one of only 35 teachers from across the nation who was chosen to attend a Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History at Princeton University.

The seminar focused on American history before the Revolutionary War, and sought to strengthen teachers’ use of promoting primary sources in their students’ work.

Read the rest here.

I should also add that most of the credit for Ann Jay’s experience with primary sources belongs to my partner-in-crime Nathan McAlister, the Princeton Seminar’s master teacher and coordinator.

The “Caffeinated Teacher” on the Princeton Seminar

Class Pic

For the past three summers I have had the privilege of spending a week on the campus of Princeton University with a group of history teachers.  We call ourselves “The Princeton Seminar,” but it would be more accurate to identify our group as the Gilder-Lehrman Institute Summer Seminar on the “13 Colonies.”

Last week thirty-five teachers from around the country converged on Princeton to study the British mainland colonies.  Our Gilder-Lehrman-appointed leader is the indispensable Nate McAlister, the 2010 National History Teacher of the Year.  I spend about four hours a day with the teachers. Nate does everything else, from getting them settled in their dorm rooms to helping them prepare their required lessons plans and teaching them historical thinking skills.

In addition to our lectures, discussions, and Gilder-Lehrman historical thinking sessions, we take a day-long tour of colonial Philadelphia and an evening tour of early American Princeton.  We read Alan Taylor’s American Colonies, George Boudreau’s Independence: A Guide to Historic Philadelphia (to prepare them for their tour of Philadelphia), and my own The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America.

The Fithian book is particularly relevant to the week at Princeton.  As many of you know, Fithian was a 1772 graduate of the College of New Jersey and my book situates his life in the history of the college.  It is fun watching teachers see Nassau Hall after reading about it in the book.  One teacher was so excited about Fithian that she spent some of her free time in the Firestone Library looking at some of his papers and letters.

We also spend a couple of hours in the Firestone rare book room.  I have the curators pull out some seventeenth and eighteenth-century classics by Penn, Locke, Mather, Wheatley, Richardson, Sterne, Whitefield, Edwards, and Franklin along with many of the more obscure books Fithian read while he was a student at the college in the 1770s and a tutor on the Virginia plantation of Robert Carter III.

We also spend a couple of hours in the cemetery of the Nassau Presbyterian Church.  I usually give the teachers a short lecture at the gravestones of Aaron Burr Sr., Aaron Burr Jr,, Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Davies, Samuel Finley, and John Witherspoon.  The teachers also love seeing the burial place of Grover Cleveland and his daughter “Baby Ruth.”

And then there are the informal times of conversations–perhaps the highlight of the week.  These take place in the dining hall (on some nights we tend to linger over mugs of  of coffee until they kick us out), on walks through campus, and at the famous Yankee Doodle Tap Room in downtown Princeton.  I learn a lot from these informal conversations and always gain a greater appreciation for the front-line work  that these teachers do.  It is heroic work.  It is good work.  It is dignified work.  And, unfortunately, it is sometimes thankless work.  Let’s not forget that these teachers, and history teachers like them, are in the business of preparing the next generation of democratic citizens.

Nassau Inn 2

One of the participants in this summer’s Princeton Seminar is known online as the “Caffeinated Teacher.”  She has written a nice blog post on her experience.  Here is a taste:

The Gilder Lehrman sessions were run by the fabulous Nate, a master teacher with GLI. His task was to run the teachers in the group through how to set up the type of lessons we would be creating by the end of the week. They were really fun and informative and I’m glad to say I learned a couple of new teaching strategies as well. I loved seeing lessons that Nate had created for his own students and then learning how we could adapt even difficult primary sources down for the youngest of learners. I think sometimes our inclination is to say it will be too hard for kindergarten through second or third graders and these sessions really challenged that notion which I vastly appreciated (I am well known for pushing kids farther than they think they can go). 

Meal Times 
Seriously…despite all of the walking around I did, I’m sure I gained at least a few pounds (I didn’t check when I got home because I didn’t want to know!) from all of the yummy deliciousness offered in the cafeteria. All of our meals were provided and there were tons of choices every day. A lot of summer camps for elementary, middle and high school students were also ongoing so it wasn’t uncommon to see kiddos sneaking ice cream at the end of breakfast too 🙂 In all seriousness, however, the vast availability of choices was much appreciated. The best part of the meals was the opportunity to sit with different members of our group, including Dr. Fea and Nate, and learn about them and their teaching situations. We really became like a family during the six days we were together. 
Read the entire post here.

Colonial History in DNC-Infested Philadelphia

Yesterday I spent the day in Philadelphia with thirty-six history teachers from around the country.  These teachers were chosen by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History to join me and Nate McAlister, the 2010 National History Teacher of the Year, to participate in a six day summer seminar at Princeton University.  This is the third year we have conducted this seminar.  We call it The Princeton Seminar.  You can see what we are up to by following us @princetonsemnr

This year our day-trip to Philadelphia coincided with the Democratic National Convention. We took a lot of pictures.  Here are some of them:

July 27 037

While waiting for our bus I read the teachers some interesting material on George Whitefield from an article by historian Jessica Parr

 

July 27 038

We sat in DNC-related traffic on Route 95 and got into the city late.  As you can tell, I was not happy about it.

July 27 040

We made it to Philadelphia. Our tour guide John Ingram was ready to go!

Dean

This pic was taken about two minutes after I tried, unsuccessfully, to chase down former Vermont Governor Howard Dean to thank him for his very funny ending to his DNC speech on Tuesday night

July 27 046

I met a very enthusiastic DNC delegate from Texas  Could not resist the pic

Indy

Our teachers loved touring Independence Hall

July 27 041

Not everyone was happy that the DNC was in Philadelphia.  This flag flew in Elfreth’s Alley

July 27 055

Standing on Market Street.  Notice what is behind me

 

July 27 057

Standing on Market Street.  Independence Hall was behind me (see pic above).  THIS is what was in front of me. (I will let you draw conclusions)

July 27 060

End of the day: Some very tired history teachers

July 27 062

Our fearless leader, Nate McAlister, makes sure all the teachers made it back to our rendezvous point

Gilder-Lehrman Institute Announces Spring 2016 On-Line Graduate Courses

Last night we wrapped up my Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History online graduate course on Colonial North America.  The students and the producers of the course are telling me that it went well, but without regular face-to-face interaction with students it is hard for me to evaluate the success (or lack thereof) of the whole experience.  Having said that, I really enjoyed teaching the course.

As I told the students last night, I want to thank Gilder-Lehrman producers Lance Warren and Hannah Ayers for guiding me through the entire process.  It has been a pleasure getting to know them over the course of this semester and I really appreciate the invitation to teach this course.  Although we never had a chance to connect during the semester, I want to thank Kathy White for conducting the pedagogy sessions that went along with the course.  Aaron Bell and Wayne Kantz did the yeoman’s work of grading the weekly papers that we assigned.  I appreciate their willingness to take on what I imagine was a tedious (but hopefully rewarding) job.


With the Fall 2015 courses coming to an end, Gilder-Lehrman has now opened registration for its Spring courses.  It looks like a great lineup:

Click here to learn more about the Gilder-Lehrman/Adams State University M.A. program and how to register for Spring courses.