We the Teachers

New TAH.org Site Feature: Enhanced Sitewide Search

TeachingAmericanHistory.org has a new feature: a simple, enhanced search tool embedded on every page of the site. If you look in the upper-right corner of any page you’ll see the Search box that’s always been there – but now you have the ability to select whether you want the search term to be applied to whole site, or just our Documents Library. If you select Documents, you’ll be able to search the titles and contents of our 2300+ primary documents, providing easier, faster access to the information you want.


Program Report: August 5-7 Weekend Colloquia

This last weekend, Aug 5th-7th, TeachingAmericanHistory.org conducted two Weekend Colloquia at Historic Sites for forty-five teachers from across America.  

Professor Steve Knott, with the Naval War College, chaired the colloquia on “John Adams:  Founding Vice President and President” in Quincy, Massachusetts. John Adams had a lengthy and illustrious career, spanning over 40 years in public service. This weekend’s conversation focused on “The First Vice President” “Adams, Washington, Jefferson and Hamilton”,  “President John Adams” and the last session discussed “The Election of 1800 and It’s Aftermath.” Teachers also enjoyed a private tour of United First Parish Church, where John Adams and John Quincy Adams are buried, as well as tours of the Adams Homestead.  

Ashbrook Teachers tour the United First Parish Church in Quincy, MA, where John Adams and John Quincy Adams are buried

Ashbrook Teachers tour the United First Parish Church in Quincy, MA, where John Adams and John Quincy Adams are buried.









Professor Peter Myers, with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, led the colloquia on “Civil Rights in America” in Atlanta, Georgia. Teachers delved into primary documents that covered topics such as “Civil Rights: the Prologue” “The Turning Point: Brown v Board of Education” “The Civil Rights Movement: Victory and Division” and the “Post Civil Rights Era.”  Participants toured the Center for Civil and Human Rights for several hours.

Ashbrook Teachers outside the Center for Civil and Human Rights

Ashbrook Teachers outside the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA.









To learn more about this program and other available teaching resources, please visit www.TeachingAmericanHistory.org.

Program Report: The Civil War at the Massachusetts Historical Society

Saturday, July 30th, TeachingAmericanHistory.org partnered once again with the Massachusetts Historical Society for a Forum on the Civil War, generously sponsored by the Filene Foundation in Massachusetts.  Dr. Joseph Fornieri, Political Scientist with the Rochester Technical Institute chaired the conversation with three sessions: “A House Divided” Causes of the Conflict; “The Apple of Gold and Picture of Silver”: Secession and The Union; and finally “A New Birth of Freedom.” We enjoyed lively discussion under the watchful gaze of John and Abigail Adams, Daniel Webster and  General Washington (some of the  portraits in the meeting room).  When the program concluded, participants enjoyed several new exhibits at the Massachusetts Historical Society, such as the pen that President Lincoln used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. General Washington’s epaulet’s are on display as are several letters of John Winthrop,  along with artifacts of King Phillip’s War. If you are in the Boston area, please stop in and visit!

The pen Abraham Lincoln used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation

The pen Abraham Lincoln used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.


Dr. Joseph Fornieri leading discussion at the Forum on the Civil War at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Program Report: The Grand Alliance at New Orleans

Teachers from California to Massachusetts gathered in New Orleans, Louisiana, from 22-24 July to learn about the historic Yalta Conference of February 1945, in which the stage was set for much of the geopolitical boundaries and balance for the latter half of the 20th Century. Teachers participated in a weekend-long documents-based  simulation in which each person played the role of a participant in the conference, using primary documents to promote the causes of their delegation and seek to achieve individual goals, as well. The program also included a visit to the National World War 2 Museum, and a viewing of the outstanding Beyond All Boundaries film.


Dr. John Moser, of Ashland University and the co-chair of the Master of Arts in American History and Government degree program, served as discussion leader.

Program Reports: “The American Founding” and “The Origins of the Cold War”

The Manatee Technical College hosted a two day TAH.org seminar on the topics of The American Founding and The Origins of the Cold War that drew teachers from southern and central Florida.  Dr. David Alvis, from Wofford College, led the discussion on The American Fouding, with three sessions that considered documents such as Abraham Lincoln’s “Fragment on th the Constitution”; Tocqueville’s Democracy in America; James Madison’s “Vices of the political System of the United States” Federalist Papers #47, #10 and #51.  

Dr. David Krugler, Professor at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, chaired conversation in the Origins of the Cold War Seminar.  Thirty educators came together to discuss documents of Wartime Alliance 1939-1941, followed with readings on the Origins of Containment 1945-1947 and we concluded with primary sources on the Practice of Containment 1947-1950.  

For more information on upcoming seminars and programs, please visit www.teachingamericanhistory.org.  

Teachers with Professor David Krugler at Manatee Technical College

Program Report: Charlottesville Weekend Colloquia

This past weekend, July 22-24, TeachingAmericanHistory.org and the Ashbrook Center hosted two Weekend Colloquia in Charlottesville, VA on Thomas Jefferson.  Professor Eric Sands of Berry College, chaired a Colloquia on The Politics of Thomas Jefferson while Professor Robert McDonald of the U.S. Military Academy, led a Colloquia on Thomas Jefferson and Education.  

Thomas Jefferson believed that “if a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.”  One group focused on only on Jefferson’s education and his plans for educational reform in Virginia but also his founding of the United States Military Academy in 1802 and the University of Virginia in 1819.  

Dr. Sands facilitated conversation that centered on Thomas Jefferson and Politics, which considered topics as the Constitution, Race, Religious Freedom, Education and his lasting legacy.  Participants enjoyed an afternoon tour of Monticello which was in full bloom with spring tulips.  After dinner Dr. McDonald delighted everyone with a tour of the University of Virginia to discuss Jefferson’s architectural designs.  

A group of Ashbrook Teachers taking in the sights at Monticello.

A group of Ashbrook Teachers taking in the sights at Monticello.

Saturday Webinar 2016-17 Season: Landmark Supreme Court Cases

Announcing the 10 LANDMARK SUPREME COURT CASES Webinar Series

Building on the success of our last two years of Saturday WebinarsAmerican Controversies and American Presidents – we invite you to join our 10 Landmark Supreme Court Cases webinar series during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Drawing from our list of 50 Core Documents and related sources, TAH.org’s Saturday Webinar series is designed to help teachers develop a deeper understanding of the historical, political, constitutional, and social dimensions of 10 of America’s most important Supreme Court cases. Each month a different panel of scholars – experts in their fields –discuss the topic at hand, with Dr. Chris Burkett of Ashland University as moderator, and a live online audience of teachers.

Document links will be updated throughout the season, at least a month in advance of each episode.

Register for the 2016-17 season

Liberty vs. Freedom


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Historian David Hackett Fischer discusses the related, yet distinct concepts of liberty and freedom in this archived lecture. Expanding on his 2004 book, Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America’s Foundinghe describes the different meanings of the words at the Founding, and how their meanings have evolved and been applied by Americans since.

Civics Renewal Network/AP Conference Presentation Materials


TAH.org has partnered with the Civics Renewal Network to present a workshop at the 2016 Advanced Placement Annual Conference, in Anaheim, California. TAH.org will also be on the vendor hall floor with CRN, so stop by and see if us you’re planning on attending the conference.

The resources below are a collection of documents-based webinars, reading packets, lessons, and archived courses all focused on or related to Reconstruction. The documents packets include not only documents, but also guiding questions and short summaries establishing context. The webinars are about 75 minutes long each. None of these require any passwords or any registration, and all materials and linked pages can be posted freely on other websites so long as TAH.org is attributed as the original source.

Program Report: Henry Clay Weekend Colloquium

The weekend of June 17th-19th,  teachers from around the country convened in Lexington, Kentucky for a TAH.org Weekend Colloquia on Henry Clay.  This colloquium focused on Henry Clay’s extensive career and statesmanship during America’s antebellum period. As Speaker of the House he assumed a leading role in public affairs only relinquished with his death in 1852. Clay  earned a reputation for fashioning political compromise, soothed sectional tensions and attempted to  preserve the Union. Educators visited The Ashland Estate, Henry Clay’s home and enjoyed an entertaining dinner visit with Henry Clay (re-enactor George McGee) who challenged Professor Dan Monroe to a duel.  

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Ashbrook Graduate Earns Top Teacher Award from Daughters of the American Revolution

The Daughters of the American Revolution have named a graduate of Ashbrook’s Master of Arts in American History and Government (MAHG) degree program as West Virginia’s Outstanding Teacher of American History for 2016. Adena Barnette, who teaches at Ripley High School, also placed third in the national competition.

In March, Adena Barnette was presented the DAR award for Outstanding Teacher of American History at the Greenbrier National Historic Landmark in White Sulphur Springs.

Active in statewide and national education efforts and a frequent traveller to out-of-state teacher seminars, Barnette brings the wider world to students in her hometown of Ripley. It‘s an Appalachian town of about 3,500, thirty miles north of Charleston. It boasts the country’s largest small town Independence Day celebration, which drew a visit from President George W. Bush in the July following 9/11. Yet students in the economically challenged town need a push to claim their personal potential.

The high school serves 1,000 students from Ripley and surrounding communities. Barnette chairs the social studies department and teaches the college preparatory track: helping students, often the first in their families to aspire to college, gain the skills for admission and success. Meanwhile, she encourages the “belief that hard work begets success.”

“My students read primary sources at least three out of five days in any given week,” Barnette told the DAR awards panel. This requires hands-on teaching as she guides students in highlighting, annotating, looking up vocabulary words, and moving from analysis to high-order questioning of the implications of a text.

Barnette credits Ashbrook’s Master’s program, which is based on the study of primary documents, with sharpening her own skills of both document analysis and writing. “To become a good writer, it helps to emulate the great American writers . . . thinking about what they say and how they say it.”

Through the program, Barnette developed her analytical and writing skills well enough to earn the Chairman’s award for her thesis, which presented ground-breaking research on the Constitutional process through which West Virginia detached from Virginia, becoming its own state.

Ashbrook’s MAHG program also gave Barnette valuable colleagues. “Living in a rural area, you can feel isolated if you don’t know others in your community who are equally obsessed with American history. I can bounce ideas off of my MAHG friends, ask questions about my lesson plans, and share my latest projects.”

One such project is the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), a national non-profit organization working with like-minded groups to increase access to educational resources. Barnette serves on the Education Advisory Committee to the DPLA and has written teaching guides to six primary source sets on a wide range of American history topics, from coal mining and labor history to colonial American religion. Still, Barnette calls Ashbrook’s Teaching American History website “one of the greatest repositories for primary sources. If I’m looking for a document, that’s where I go.”

Teaching key American documents that articulate American principles serves Barnette’s primary goal of “instilling a genuine and abiding patriotism that rises above party, region, or demographic.” She quotes John Adams: “Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people,” adding that “it rests on educators’ shoulders whether our American republic will continue to be a ‘city on a hill’ or a failed experiment in democracy.”

Barnette is the second graduate of Ashbrook’s Master’s program to have placed nationally in the DAR competition. Nancy Lindblom of Arizona won the top national award in 2012. Michelle Hubenschmidt of Florida, now a manager of Ashbrook teacher programs, won the national award bestowed by the Sons of the American Revolution, a brother organization to the DAR, in 2012. These awards testify to Ashbrook’s key role in strengthening American constitutional government through civic education.

Program Report: FDR vs. Hoover at the MA Historical Society in Boston

On Saturday, May 21st TAH.org brought Dr. Gordon Lloyd to the Massachusetts Historical Society to present on FDR’s “Forgotten Man” vs. Hoover’s “Rugged Individual”. This seminar discussed the Great Depression, speeches and policies of Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt.


The conversation considered topics such as Executive Power, the Constitution, The Supreme Court along with the national morale of the people. All of the selected readings can be found in The Two Faces of Liberalism: How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debate Shapes the 21st Century by Dr. Gordon Lloyd.

As Dr. Lloyd says, “May the blessings of Liberty be upon you.”

Program Report: James Madison Colloquium in Montpelier, VA

This past weekend Montpelier, the home of James and Dolley Madison, hosted teachers from the western Pennsylvania region, courtesy the Allegheny Foundation. The topic was James Madison: The Father of the Constitution led by Dr. Chris Burkett. Discussions spanned Madison’s forty year career as a leading proponent for this republic, his contribution to the U.S Constitution and Bill of Rights. This seminar examined the extraordinary statesmanship of Madison and his lifelong defense of liberty and constitutional self government.


The weekend began Friday evening with Dr. Burkett’s introduction of James Madison. Participants enjoyed a private house tour of Montpelier that concluded with a special session of questions from Mr. Madison, who explained his position on a myriad of topics such as Interposition, Ratification, and answered questions from the teachers.

The final session centered on “Guarding Liberty: The Constitution in the New Republic.” The colloquium concluded with Mr. Madison’s final advice to his country in 1834, “The advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions is that the Union of the States be cherished and perpetuated.”

Plessy v. Ferguson: May 18th, 1896

May 18th is the anniversary Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the doctrine of “equal, but separate” was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court. This landmark case helped to cement the Jim Crow laws already prevalent throughout the South, and paved the way for another 60 years of legal segregation before it was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Learn more about the details and historical context of this case at TeachingAmericanHistory.org, where it’s one of our 50 Core Documents. The case, with Justice Harlan’s dissenting opinion that the “Constitution is color-blind,” is also accompanied by a summary, guiding questions, links to related documents, and a search tool to help you find state academic standards relevant to the case.

Our 2016-17 Saturday Webinars will focus on developing a deeper understanding of Landmark Supreme Court Cases, including Plessy v. Ferguson. Registration details will be published soon. In the meantime, you can access all our archived webinars, and subscribe to our iTunes podcast, too.

50 Documents That Tell America’s Story

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