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Dr. Bob Gross
Wednesday, 31 December 2008
There is nothing more common than to confound the terms of the American Revolution with those of the late American war. The American war is over: but this is far from being the case with the American revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the great drama is closed. It remains yet to establish and perfect new forms of government, and to prepare the principles, morals, and manners of our citizens, for these forms of government, after they are established and brought to perfection² - Dr. Benjamin Rush (American Museum, Jan. 1787).

Rush's comment suggests that the American Revolution was an open-ended affair, whose outcome turned both on the establishment of a new model of popular government and on the inculcation in the citizenry of the principles and habits essential to sustaining it. There is an idealism in his statement suggesting a democratic outlook, and it is a position that American historians often endorse in interpreting the meaning and significance of the Revolution. But that view is adopted too easily, for it passes over the various groups who were losers in the "American war": native Americans who fought on the British side, African Americans who waged their own battles for liberty in both British and Patriot ranks, and common white farmers and laborers who bore the brunt of the fighting and the costs of the conflict, only to feel excluded from power and disregarded and oppressed in the postwar settlement. By the lights of these groups, the American Revolution was not a democratic movement.

Whose view do we adopt? On December 9, Dr. Bob Gross from the University of Connecticut explored the character of the Revolution by examining the issues at stake and the experience of three groups in the Revolutionary era: native Americans (particularly, the Iroquois), African Americans, both enslaved and free; and New Englanders, as seen in a case study of the people of Concord, Massachusetts, where the war began in the confrontation between Minutemen and British Regulars on April 19, 1775. Comparisons were made to the conduct of the Revolution in and by Virginians. Answers to the question -- was the American Revolution a democratic movement -- are various and emerged from this lively discussion.


Audio (mp3, 52mb)

Dr. Edward Ayers
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
Image“For more than a hundred years now the United States has been one of the great agents of social transformation in the world. From the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century to Iraq at the beginning of the 21st, this country has sought to remake other nations. The reconstructions of Japan and Germany after World War II stand as the great successes, mixed among other interventions in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

As Americans try to understand our role in the world, we seldom turn for instruction to our own history of Reconstruction of the South in the 1860's and 1870's. That is partly because the South is hardly a foreign country and partly because ''Gone With the Wind'' and other popular stories have told us that Reconstruction was a horrible mistake, a misguided, hypocritical and deluded effort by zealots to force an unnatural order on a helpless South. Modern historians have exploded that story but agree that Reconstruction failed to deliver on its promises, abandoning African-Americans to poverty, lynching and segregation.

Despite its limitations and failures, however, Reconstruction is worth our attention -- not least because it represented America's first attempt to transform a defeated society through a sustained military occupation. As such, it would foreshadow significant parts of American foreign policy over the next century and a half.”

(excerpt from “The First Occupation” by Edward L. Ayers, published in the New York Times Magazine, May 2005)

On November 11, Dr. Edward Ayers explored the complex legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction as it resonates within American culture, domestic and foreign policy, and our very citizenship.  A finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Promises of the New South: Life After Reconstruction, Ayers work on the history of American race relations and on the history of the American South has played a critical role in the retelling of this pivotal period of our history. 

You can access the full article of the expert above here (NY TIMES LINK)

Master Fellow Presentations
Wednesday, 05 November 2008
Image  "From Compass to GPS, the History of Mapping in Virginia."
October 4, 2008

Christine Esposito, Stephanie Hammer, Chris Shedd, and Donna Shifflett recently shared their Y2 research products and lessons at the Library of Virginia's fall 2008 program, "From Compass to GPS, the History of Mapping in Virginia." Held in conjunction with the library's current exhibit, "From Williamsburg to Wills' Creek: The Fry-Jefferson Map of Virginia" each Fellow demonstrated their digital mapping projects in a "hands on" setting to show how geospatial technologies are being used to promote historical inquiry and analysis in the history classroom.

"2008 VCSS Annual Conference"
October 17, 2008

A number of this year's Master Fellows participated on a panel discussion on "Mapping History: Using GIS to Teach our Past" at the 2008 VCSS Annual Conference. Held in Richmond, the Fellows provided a brief introduction to Historical GIS, a summary of their research projects, and implentation and troubleshooting tips for using their historical maps in the classroom. Panelists included Chris Bunin, Christine Esposito, Scott Mace, Chris Shedd, and Donna Shifflett.
The Inconvenient Truth about Historical Documentaries
Wednesday, 05 November 2008
Image Historical documentaries and movies should be given the same treatment as traditional primary and secondary sources. This was one of Dr. Jeremy Stoddard's (William & Mary) messages to the Teaching Fellows during his presentation, "The Inconvenient Truth about Historical Documentaries" on October 9th at Clemons Library. Using best practice media clips, Dr. Stoddard shared his research on student/teacher perceptions of documentaries, strategies for evaluating documentaries for authenticity and accuracy, and instructional tips for using documentaries in the classroom. The presentation provided the Fellows with number of points to consider while researching and designing their their own digital narrratives.
Dr. Peter Black
Monday, 13 October 2008
ImageOn October 7, Dr. Peter Black, the Chief Historian of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, explored the response in the United States to the events of the Holocaust era, focusing on the issues of immigration, pre-war refugee policy, and wartime rescue policy.  This workshop looked at these issues through the prism of 1) what Americans knew about the Holocaust and when they received such knowledge and 2) what U.S. policy makers perceived could or should be done to stop the Holocaust.  With regard to the latter, we took an in-depth look at the historical context of the actual events that would give rise to the later debate about whether the Allies should have bombed the Auschwitz killing center.

Teaching Fellow Research Retreat, September 19th
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Teaching Fellow Research Retreat, September 19th

ImageThe Teaching Fellows journeyed to the Library of Virginia (LVa) on Friday September 19th for their research retreat. Located a few blocks from the State's Capitol, LVa delivered a research program that undoubtedly helped each Fellow gain a grasp on their topic.  The day began with an orientation to the library and available resources by Tameka Hobbs, Director of Education Programs.  Before spending the afternoon exploring these resources, the Fellows were treated to a Virginia artifacts "show and tell" with Tom Camden, Director of Special Collections. As always, Tom made his audience FEEL the POWER of the treasures stored at Virginia's library. 

Dr. Paul Martin
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Elections in the 20th Century

ImageVoter participation in presidential elections soared from just over 20% in 1824 to over 80% in 1840.  It stayed near 80% until the early 1900s and then plummeted to between 50 and 60% for most of the 20th century.  Compared to our peer nations, American voter turnout sits at the bottom of the list, with other nations consistently seeing voter participation at or over 80%.  Professor Paul Martin of the University of Virginia explained why citizen involvement in electoral campaigns has changed so much in the United States over the past, why US voter participation is so low compared to our peer nations, and offered parting thoughts on why low citizen participation matters and why the 2008 presidential election might see an increase in voter involvement.

Lee Ann Potter
Tuesday, 16 September 2008

"Motivate and Inspire!  Teaching with Primary Source Documents"

ImageWe kicked off the third year of "The Virginia Experiment" Teaching American History grant on Tuesday, September 9 with a seminar titled "Motivate and Inspire!  Teaching with Primary Source Documents" led by Lee Ann Potter, Director of Education for the National Archives and Records Administration. In this workshop, teachers engaged in document analysis activities related to a wide range of contemporary subjects, were alerted to the online resources of the National Archives, and were inspired by service learning projects that involve documents.



ESRI Education User Conference
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Teaching Fellows Program Featured at ESRI Education User Conference

“The Virginia Experiment” was featured as an exhibit and panel discussion at the ESRI Education User’s Conference in San Diego, California. Tamra Campbell (Mapping the Primaries), Chris Shedd (Oberlin and the Underground Railroad), and Donna Shifflett (Why Yorktown?), presented their Teaching Fellow research and instructional products to an international audience of scholars, teachers, and division coordinators.  Sponsored by ESRI, this year’s conference theme was Placing History: The Value of Geography in History Education and included a keynote address by Anne Kelly Knowles, Associate Professor, Middlebury College.


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