We the Teachers

Following in Ancient Footsteps: The Hopewell in Ohio

Our friends at the Ohio Historical Society are pleased to present an exciting summer program for teachers. The Creative Learning Factory at the Ohio History Connection is inviting applications for a grant-funded Summer Scholars workshop studying the ancient American Hopewell culture in Ohio. The workshop will be run twice, July 12-17 and July 19-24, 2015. From a home base in Columbus, Ohio, we will visit the key sites of the Hopewell culture: Fort Ancient, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, and the Newark Earthworks, which is being considered for nomination as a World Heritage Status site.

Summer Scholars will experience these sites with expert scholars who will bring the sites to life; and learn about archeological methodology and teaching historic sites from practicing archaeologists and site educators. The program is free for accepted applicants and includes a stipend to aid in covering travel and other expenses.

This program, part of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Landmarks of American History and Culture teacher workshop series, is open to all teachers in US public, private, parochial, and charter schools, as well as American schools located abroad.

Applications are due March 2, 2015. For more information and application instructions, visit the program website at www.creativelearningfactoryhopewell.org

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Florida Teacher Programs Underway with Our Orlando Colloquium

Over this past weekend the Ashbrook Center unveiled it’s newest program Rediscovering America in Orlando, Florida. Middle and high school teachers from around the state convened at the picturesque Caribe Royale Resort to discuss and analyze Lincoln’s rhetoric and writings with Professor Eric Sands.


Teachers dissected the writings of Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr, Alexander Stephens and referenced those influences upon Abraham Lincoln’s Peoria Speech, Gettysburg Address and Inaugural Speech. President Lincoln endured deep crises and his writings and musings reflected his struggle with the moral and legal issue of slavery, states’ rights and constitutional limits.

Over the weekend participants enjoyed profound conversation mixed with levity and laughter within the sessions, as well as into the after hours as well. Half of our teachers had not participated in an Ashbrook program and have already registered for other seminars and webinars.

Please visit our site often to see updates about joining in the conversation or participating in future Ashbrook events. We look forward to seeing you there.

Our Philadelphia Colloquium

Last weekend, the Ashbrook Center hosted a group of U.S. History and Government teachers in Philadelphia for a colloquium on the theme, “Liberty and the Constitution: The Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention”.

In the city where the Constitution was debated and drafted, and where Pennsylvanians examined the document before ratification, our group of teachers explored the critical issues raised by both supporters and opponents of ratification. Participants noted George Mason’s fear that the Constitution would ultimately “produce a monarchy or a corrupt oppressive aristocracy,” and Brutus’ concern that “History furnishes no example of a free republic, any thing like the extent of the United States.”

In exploring the defense of the Constitution offered in the Federalist essays, participants noted that Federalists listed as strengths certain features of the Constitution that Anti-Federalists saw as weaknesses. We paid special attention to Madison’s Federalist 10, in which he criticized the Anti-Federalist vision of small republics where people share what Brutus called the same “manners, sentiments, and interests.” Madison argued it was impossible to give “every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests” without robbing them of their liberty. But where there is liberty, Madison noted, there is disagreement; and where there is disagreement, there can be faction. Madison observed, “The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man” – Americans, too, are in danger of falling to the same divisions that had undermined every previous experiment in self-government. Madison’s response to this sobering recognition was to propose something new – an extended, representative, federal republic.

In addition to our discussion, participants had the opportunity to visit what is now known as “Independence Hall,” but what was then known as the Pennsylvania State House. It was in this building where, in the summer of 1787, Washington, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton, and others gathered to frame the most frequently emulated form of government in the history of mankind.

2014.10.15 Liberty Fund Philly


Our Colorado Colloquium in September

Fourteen teachers from around Colorado joined Dr. Chris Flannery to discuss Abraham Lincoln and his views on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, governance, and the crises he faced. Representing grades 1 through 12, this diverse group of educators came from private, public, and charter schools across the state, and from both urban and rural areas.


Rooted in documents such as Lincoln’s two inaugural addresses, his speech at Peoria in 1854, and works from Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King, Jr., the group focused on topics such as Lincoln’s views on equality, the rule of law, and slavery. Participants wrestled with difficult and differing points of view over what the Founding Fathers meant in writing “…all men are created equal…” and how they saw slavery fitting within a country founded on such beliefs. A great deal of time was spent on Lincoln’s ideas, character, and statesmanship, with all discussions firmly fixed on the primary source documents selected for the weekend.

Discussions continued during meals and social time on both Friday and Saturday evenings, providing teachers with new ideas, new contacts, and some well-deserved time to reflect and re-energize for their classrooms.

Register Now for this Saturday’s Webinar!

Don’t forget to register for our next web discussion this Saturday, September 27th at 11:00 AM (EST), Ashbrook is pleased to welcome Prof. Ken Masugi (Johns Hopkins University Krieger School) and Prof. David Foster (Ashland University) to a conversation moderated by Prof. Chris Burkett (Ashland University) on the controversial question, “Did the Founders Misunderstand Democracy?”

Ashbrook’s Saturday Webinars for Social Studies Teachers will focus on American Controversies. Drawing from our list of 50 Core American Documents, and exploring related sources, Ashbrook’s American Controversies webinar series is designed to give teachers deep perspective on the central issues they are expected to teach.

Click here to register today!

There is no cost to participate. Each webinar is scheduled to last one hour and fifteen minutes.

Civil War Washington Teacher Fellows Program

Ford's Theatre

The Civil War Washington Consortium, which includes Ford’s Theatre, President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home, Tudor Place Historic House and Garden, and the National Parks Service, is now accepting applications for the 2014 Catherine B. Reynolds Civil War Washington Teacher Fellows program.  This six day workshop to be held in Washington, DC from Sunday, July 13 through Friday, July 18, will take 25 teachers on a historic tour of Civil War sites in our nation’s capital.  Focused on the lives and ideas of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, the program will include instructional visits to Ford’s Theatre, Tudor Place, the Frederick Douglass Home, and Lincoln’s Cottage.

Included in the program cost is six nights hotel accommodations and roundtrip airfare on American Airlines.  Participants may request a double-occupancy room for $600 or a single-occupancy room for $1000.

Learn more about this exciting opportunity at fords.org.  Applications are due by April 4th.

The Joining of the Rails: The Transcontinental Railroad

Transcontinental Railroad

The new edition of Gilder Lehrman’s History Now online historical journal is now available.  This issue focuses on a particular interest of mine, the transcontinental railroad.  It features a series of essays from historians exploring the railroad’s impact on American history, particularly on the economy and business, the social impact it has on western settlement, and the changing relationship between government and business that develops in the Age of Enterprise.

Want to learn more about railroads and western settlement? Join us this summer for a new graduate course entitled The West and AmericaThis new course will explore how the west shaped American history from the 19th century through the present. Held at our Ashland, Ohio campus from Sunday, June 29 through Friday July 4th, the course will be taught by Professor David Wrobel of the University of Oklahoma and veteran MAHG professor Gregory Schneider of Emporia State University.  A lifelong rail fan, Professor Schneider is the author of the recently published Rock Island Requiem: The Collapse of a Might Fine Line, which chronicles the rise and fall of the legendary Rock Island Railroad.

A Winter Weekend at James Madison’s Montpelier

This past weekend, the Ashbrook Center was pleased to host 16 outstanding social studies teachers for a weekend colloquium at James Madison’s Montpelier.

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Participants read from primary source documents including Madison’s pre-Constitutional Convention working paper,  “Vices of the Political System of the U.S.,” several of his contributions to the Federalist series, his “Report on the Virginia Resolutions,” his introduction of amendments to the Constitution in the First Congress, and some of his personal correspondence. (Explore more of Madison’s writings in our online document library here.) With guidance from the accomplished historian of the Early Republican era, Dr. Todd Estes (Oakland University), we discussed key themes in Madison’s thought and career, including his critique of the government under the Articles of Confederation, his blueprint for an extended representative republic designed to break the hold of faction, his shifting political alliances (if not necessarily his shifting principles), and his argument in favor of the power of states to “interpose” their constitutional interpretations while not endorsing nullification of acts of the federal government.



During one of our evening receptions, we were fortunate enough to have been joined by the Madisons themselves, who were hosting visitors for a holiday tour of the mansion. Mr. Madison kindly agreed to pose for photographs with some of our participants. Thanks to all of the teachers who joined us, and thanks to our co-sponsor for this program, Liberty Fund.

Bill of Rights Institute Founders Fellowship

The Bill of Rights Institute will present a pair of programs for teachers in July 2014. The Founders Fellowship program features two programs:

  • Civil Liberty, Commerce, and the Constitution, to be held July 14 to 18 in Washington, DC
  • Liberty and Security, to be held July 21 to 24 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Open to all secondary social studies teachers, the programs are offered at no cost to participants (program costs, lodging, and most meals are included, as is a $400 travel stipend). Learn more about the program or apply today. The application deadline is March 31, 2014.

Gilder Lehrman Summer Teacher Seminars

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has released its schedule of weeklong seminars for the summer of 2014. The seminars are open to K-12 teachers from Gilder Lehrman affiliate schoosl, school librarians, museum educators, and National Park Service interpreters.

For teachers at schools not currently affiliated with the Institute, you will have the opportunity to apply for affiliation with your application for the seminars.  Affiliation provides a number of benefits for your school’s teachers and students, including professional development opportunities, curricular resources, and opportunities to recognize outstanding history students.

Learn more or apply at www.gilderlehrman.org.

Exploring the Presidency of FDR

Last weekend, the Ashbrook Center hosted 18 teachers in Hyde Park, NY for a discussion about the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and visits to the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Park Site and the FDR Presidential Library and Museum


Drawing on primary source texts – mostly taken from Prof. Gordon Lloyd’s The Two Faces of Liberalism: How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debate Shapes the 21st Century - participants explored FDR’s response to the Great Depression as a candidate, and as President. Our participants discussed how FDR, in his address accepting the presidential nomination in 1932, promised to “break foolish traditions” and how, in his Inaugural Address he asked Congress for “broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.”

Our discussion also included a number of writings by Herbert Hoover. Many of our participants were surprised to learn that Hoover “stuck around” throughout FDR’s presidency, both to criticize New Deal policies, and to articulate an alternative political vision. We discussed his defense of his early response to the Depression in his 1932 acceptance of the Republican nomination, where he argued his administration “met the situation with proposals to private business and the Congress of the most gigantic program of economic defense and counter attack ever evolved in the history of the Republic.” We also discussed his argument, in “The Crisis to Free Men,” that “Either we shall have a society based upon ordered liberty and the initiative of the individual, or we shall have a planned society that means dictation, no matter what you call it or who does it.”

The Ashbrook Center thanks its co-sponsor, Liberty Fund, for funding this program, and Prof. Gordon Lloyd (Pepperdine University) for serving as Discussion Leader. Thanks also to all of the teachers who joined us in a lively and important conversation!

Heroes & Villains – A new resource from the Bill of Rights Institute

Heroes & Villains

Our friends at the Bill of Rights Institute have developed a new resource to help schools explore civic virtue in a functioning democratic society. Heroes & Villains: The Quest for Civic Virtue contains a series of 10 lessons designed for use in the classroom.  Two free workshops are offered to aid schools in implementing these lessons.  One workshop is scheduled for Thursday, October 17 in Topeka, Kansas, and the other will be held Friday, November 15 in Houston, Texas.  Each workshop is designed for school administrators, curriculum coordinators, and classroom teachers.

To learn more about these free opportunities, visit the Bill of Rights Institute website or contact Laura Vlk, the institute’s manager of programs and events.

Slavery and the Constitution: An immoral compromise?

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, seminal events in America’s effort to deal with and overcome the legacy of slavery. Key to understanding that legacy is the place of slavery at the 1787 Constitutional Convention and thence in the US Constitution.

On September 17th, the American Enterprise Institute will present the second annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture.  Michael Zuckert, Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor and chair of the department of political science at the University of Notre Dame will critically examines the leading “pro-” and “anti-slavery” interpretations of the Constitutional Convention and offer an alternative analysis tied to a more accurate and less anachronistic reading of the principles and politics of the founding era.

This Constitution Day will be held on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm, Eastern time.  The lecture may be attended in person at the AEI offices in Washington, DC, or you may watch event online live.

History through the Lens of Hemingway

May 1, 2013

Ernest HemingwayTeachers will have two opportunities to explore the work of writer Ernest Hemingway in the upcoming weeks. Professor Dan Monroe, who is the John C. Griswold Distinguished Professor of History at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, sees Hemingway not only as the most important American literary voice of the twentieth century but also as a window into an era of war and social upheaval. Monroe will offer both an Ashbrook Saturday Webinar on selected short stories of Hemingway and a weeklong summer seminar covering these and longer works.

The webinar, the last of this school year’s series of free online continuing education opportunities, will be offered Saturday, May 18. Webinars are not only excellent opportunities to explore topics of historical interest; they afford a taste of the text-driven, interactive experience of our Master of Arts in American History and Government program, taught partly online and partly in residence on the Ashland University campus. During the fourth on-campus session this summer, Monroe will offer a study of Hemingway as one of the newest of our program’s Great Texts courses. We asked Professor Monroe to chat with us about his interest in this iconic American author.

What inspires you to offer a course on Hemingway in the MAHG program? Continue reading

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