Get to Know the 2017 History Teachers of the Year: Kevin Dua, Massachusetts

This year, Gilder Lehrman recognized 51 State History Teachers of the Year for their tireless and innovative efforts to make history come alive for their students. These exceptional educators were awarded $1,000 and an archive of books and resources for their school library, and were honored in state ceremonies.

But who are they, really? We asked these talented teachers to answer a few questions about themselves and to reflect on the challenges and joys of teaching. We will feature one state winner every Monday and Thursday between now and September, so keep checking back to learn more about these outstanding educators!

This week, meet Kevin Dua: 

Kevin Dua, Somerville High School Teacher and 2017 Massachusetts State History Teacher of the Year

Do you have a favorite/funny memory from teaching?
“Were you ever a slave?” still remains the most momentous question in my nine years in teaching. A student, as genuine as possible, literally asked me this question during class, stunning the other students. The moment highlighted the responsibility of my position, as a black male teacher, both professionally and personally. (I responded calmly by explaining that the 13th Amendment made it impossible for that question to apply to me in 2012).

The instance also became a growing experience. Back then, I generally took the teacher route to safely reply to such challenging inquiries, as opposed to the educator route, critically delving into the packed layers with my students. Moving forward, I have consciously made it a goal to create, encourage, and expand on such learning opportunities, thus never sidestepping again—for my students and for me.  

State one fun historical fact about the town you grew up in.
Aside from it being the location in which General Robert E. Lee commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War—my hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, is famously dubbed Home of the Titans, in honor of the T.C. Williams High School Titans football team. The story of this school and its desegregated football team (which won the state championship in 1971) was made into the 2000 Disney sports film, Remember the Titans, starring Denzel Washington.

What was the last great history book you read?
A friend and fellow teacher gave me Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence (edited by Chad Williams, Kidada E. Williams, and Keisha N. Blain) as a gift. Described as “a collection of new essays and columns published in the wake of the massacre, along with selected excerpts from key existing scholarly books and general-interest articles,” this is a potent read for any teacher, historian, or other reader to experience.

What is your favorite historical site or museum?
The new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, is unquestionably the greatest historical landmark I have ever visited. The depth of world history that has been compacted in one building is overwhelmingly beautiful. The museum’s founders and contributors were thorough in ensuring that the multi-narrative of African-Americans’ agency was powerfully celebrated via various artistic media. To see during my visit many adults encouraging children to take notes and to ask questions—it showed this conscious effort by attendees to ensure full immersion in this history, for all ages.

If you could travel back in time and meet any historical figure, whom would it be and why?
I would meet all 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. And once we have all tolerated the bewilderment of time travel, I would inform them that I wanted to meet all of them to simply encourage them to continue compromising until they agreed to amend the “all men are created equal” to “all humans are created equal” (or “all men and women are created equal”) . . . and to abolish slavery before declaring independence to form a new nation. And if I were to meet them after the signing, I would ask them to convene again to make the necessary changes to ensure human rights.

Who is your favorite historian?
Historian Carter G. Woodson is one that I have come to highly value in recent years. His founding of "Negro History Week" (the precursor to Black History Month in February) has been significantly misunderstood. (He wanted the celebration to specifically correspond with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.) More importantly, his work via the Journal of Negro History and advocating teaching youth diverse narratives has positively impacted today’s schools.

What is your favorite historical film or series?
It would have to be 12 Years a Slave, a film that I have incorporated into my freshmen history class for the past five years along with an in-depth guide. My students have been truly mesmerized and I have enjoyed discovering a new aspect of a film I have seen 100+ times. For example, the rowhouse located at 1315 Duke Street (in my hometown of Alexandria, Virginia) was once part of a slave trade complex that grew to be among the nation’s largest. The last trader to operate on the site, James H. Birch, was the same dealer who paid men to kidnap Solomon Northup and then sold him into slavery. But a close second would be the musical  1776. A few months ago, my wife introduced (and heavily encouraged) me to watch this film. Since then, I have become an admirer.

Do you have a favorite historical topic or era?
The discovery of Jane in colonial Jamestown, Virginia; her story is the hook that starts my history classes each academic year. Aside from the grotesque recorded descriptions of cannibalism that my classes dig through, the fascination behind the meaning of the discovery is what remains captivating for me.

For me, and this is how I present it to my students, Jane represents a moment of truth, a tone setter, for a future nation. The poor planning, struggles, deaths, and resort to cannibalism—it all humbled a community on the brink of extinction. This community knew that, if they were able to survive such obstacles, they would need to embrace a new mindset to move forward, never weakening itself again. Jane was an indication that anything less than prosperity (by any means) as a people would be a failure. Also, Jamestown is in my home state of Virginia, so by default, it is a favorite topic of mine.

Do your students have a favorite historical topic or era?
The early women’s rights movement, starting with the Lowell mill factories protests. Due to budgeting, I have yet to fund a field trip to the Lowell mill factories (conveniently in the same state I work in). However, each year, to further my students’ understanding of this feminist movement, we simulate a factory shop inside my classroom. With desks set up as an assembly line, the students enter my classroom, sign a work contract (an actual primary source from a mill factory company from the 1820s), and begin to create “shirts” (drawing and cutting shirts), under my direction, as the owner.

The Cold War Moves to the Kitchen: On This Day, 1959

Still from "A Date with Your Family," a 1950 Encyclopedia Britannica instructional film On July 24, 1959, at the height of the Cold War, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Vice President Richard Nixon held a “Kitchen Debate.” Since the end of WWII, the Soviet Union and United States had been locked in a fierce battle for technological, industrial, and military dominance. In their brief exchange, however, the two leaders put military prowess aside to pit the American lifestyle against the Soviet, and capitalism versus communism.

Nixon extolled the wonders of consumer choice and benefits of access to the newest products and technological advancements. He noted that new kitchen gadgets, such as dishwashers, made life easier for American housewives, and explained that even an ordinary blue-collar worker could afford a comfortable suburban home for his family. Khrushchev, meanwhile, criticized the American system for its wastefulness and deep inequalities, reminding Nixon that the advantages and comforts of this new middle-class suburban lifestyle did not extend to the poorest Americans.

Nixon: The American system is designed to take advantage of new inventions and new techniques. . . . Diversity, the right to choose, the fact that we have 1,000 builders building 1,000 different houses is the most important thing. We don’t have one decision made at the top by one government official.

Khrushchev: Your American houses are built to last only 20 years so builders could sell new houses at the end. We build firmly. We build for our children and grandchildren. . . . In Russia . . . you are entitled to housing. . . . In America, if you don’t have a dollar you have a right to choose between sleeping in a house or on the pavement.

For more on postwar America and the Cold War, check out History by Era.

Ulysses S. Grant Dies: On This Day, July 23, 1885

Frederick Dent Grant to J. B. Chaffee, telegram announcing Ulysses S. Grant's death, July 23, 1885 (Gilder Lehrman Institute).On July 23, 1885, Ulysses S. Grant, a Union general in the Civil War and the 18th president of the United States, died at the age of 63. He had struggled with throat cancer for a year while rushing to finish his memoirs, the proceeds from which he hoped would support his wife, Julia Grant. Grant died surrounded by his family, including his eldest son, Frederick Dent Grant. Soon after, Frederick  sent a telegram to his brother’s father-in-law:

To Hon J B Chaffee, 

Father died at Eight Oclock this morning, 

F. D. Grant

The news arrived in Denver, Colorado, later that same day. The telegraph in the late nineteenth century allowed relatively rapid sharing of such news, but the format allowed for short messages only, and any explanation of the full circumstances would have to await a letter.


Get to Know the 2017 History Scholars: Jacob Bruggeman

Jacob Bruggeman is a 2017 Gilder Lehrman History Scholar. These 15 exceptional college students were in New York City, June 49, learning from eminent historians and exploring New York City through a historical lens. Here Jacob describes highlights from the program.

In early June, I was honored to be one of fifteen undergraduate participants in the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History’s 2016-2017 History Scholar Program, through which I was flown out to New York City and housed at New York University with the fourteen other participants in the program. The program’s length is just short of a week, and each day we engaged with several preeminent American historians, whose myriad specialties ranged from women’s roles in the War for Independence and Lincoln’s life, to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s naval policies.

Representing universities, public and private, from all over the United States, this year’s History Scholar cohort also embodied a comprehensive scope of academic training, ideological commitments, and experiential backgrounds. Yet, in the face of our deep differences, we formed a cohesive group, each of us dedicated to the preservation, understanding, and consistent reevaluation of others’ interpretations, or “histories,” of the past.

To be sure, we all cherish different moments and eras of American History, but we recognize that stewarding the past is not a zero-sum game, and that attempting to comprehend our past, regardless of the particularities of a certain period, place, or person, is a worthwhile endeavor—indeed, an endeavor upon which rests the stability of our modest republic.

I highly recommend applying to the program. Through engaging American history, the visiting scholars, and likeminded students, you just might make studying history more interesting, encourage those in your circles to appreciate the interpretation of the past, and, just maybe, help to preserve the republic.

Jacob Bruggeman is a sophomore honors student at Miami University with majors in history and political science. Jacob serves on the AEI Executive Board, the JANUS Forum Steering Committee, and the “I Am Miami” values committee, is the student editor of Miami University’s undergraduate journal of history, and is currently campaigning for a seat on the city council of Oxford, Ohio.

The Hamilton Education Program Goes on Tour

Student performers pose backstage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, New YorkThe Hamilton Education Program is going on tour for the 2017–2018 school year! As Hamilton: The Musical makes its way across America, the Hamilton Education Program will be holding special full-day programs for students in the following cities:

San Diego, CA
Tempe, AZ
Seattle, WA
Denver, CO
St. Louis, MO
Salt Lake City, UT
Houston, TX
Washington, DC (2018–2019 school year)

Are you a teacher at a Title I–eligible high school in or near one of these cities? Your students can participate in a dynamic history and arts curriculum based on the musical and attend a once-in-a-lifetime day at the theater that includes a Q&A with select cast members, student performances, and a matinee performance of Hamilton.Apply to participate in the Hamilton Education Program here!

The Health Care Debate in 1951

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History recently acquired a letter from President Harry Truman to Dr. Channing Frothingham of Boston. In this letter, written in 1951, the President thanked Channing for his support of Truman’s plan for national health insurance.

Harry Truman to Channing Frothingham, January 31, 1951. (The Gilder Lehrman Inst

I am more grateful than I can tell you for this assurance of your continued loyal support of the national health insurance program. As you so frankly indicate, that program has powerful enemies who are not above misrepresenting its aim and purpose, in fact its fundamental principle.

Despite all obstacles it has been my observation that in the nearly two years since we met to discuss the program, understanding and appreciation of its merits have shown steady increase. I, too, believe that its further development is inevitable.

There is no doubt but that legislation to meet the present national emergency must necessarily take precedence in national consideration at this time. Nevertheless, I am convinced that we must continue to move forward in promoting the principles of national health insurance and of other health measures proposed by the administration to meet the dangerous lack of adequate medical care among a large proportion of our population. Certainly the need for more doctors is very real.

Truman had introduced his health care plan on November 19, 1945. He cited the millions of Americans who had been excused from military service due to health issues. His plan was to encourage more doctors and nurses to work in rural areas and to create a federally administered national health insurance fund. Truman’s proposal went to Congress in a Social Security expansion bill co-sponsored by Senators Robert Wagner and James Murray and Representative John Dingell. The Wagner-Murray-Dingell Bill faced opposition in Congress and from the American Medical Association. By 1951 Truman recognized that, with the crisis of the Korean War and a national reaction against the New Deal programs, he was not going to get his program through Congress. He dropped the program from his 1952 State of the Union address, but established a Commission on the Health Needs of the Nation to study the issue.

First Fridays at the Gilder Lehrman Collection

Menu from Nelly Grant's White House Wedding, May 24, 1874. (The Gilder Curator Beth Huffer chats with teachers about historic documents.Once a month, the Gilder Lehrman Institute offers teachers the opportunity to visit the Gilder Lehrman Collection for a behind-the-scenes show-and-tell with our curatorial staff. Last Friday, July 7, the curators were joined by Megan Elias, Director of Online Courses at GLI and author of Food on the Page: Cookbooks and American Culture. Together, we explored documents that focus on food and discussed what they tell us about the past and how food history can be used in the classroom. Some topics that came up were weevils as a source of protein, one hundred gallons of wine ordered for the hospital department of the army, and cold tongue in gelatin as the perfect wedding dish.

Click here to learn about First Fridays and other ways to explore the documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection.






Get to Know the 2017 History Scholars: Midori Kawaue

Midori Kawaue is a 2017 Gilder Lehrman History Scholar. These 15 exceptional college students were in New York City, June 49, learning from eminent historians and exploring New York City through a historical lens. Here Midori describes highlights from the program.

Brought up in Japan, I was inspired by how Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series created a three-dimensional world for me to experience the physical forces that framed her 19th-century American pioneer life. Eventually, my affection for these novels evolved into a passion for US history.

Midori gets a first-hand look at letters in the Gilder Lehrman CollectionFor a history nerd, my experience with Gilder Lehrman’s History Scholar Award program was like opening a treasure box. From participating in numerous lectures given by renowned historians, to encountering rare manuscripts like the original engraving of Paul Revere's Boston Massacre, to walking around Times Square with my fellow scholars, I found myself tearing up with joy during the entire week. This year, the History Scholars had a chance to take part in lectures by seven historians whose research ranges from Women in the Revolutionary War to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s relationship with the US Navy. It was an overwhelming experience sitting in a room with professional historians who devoted their entire lives to a specific subject or person. 

My favorite talk was on “Mourning Lincoln” by Dr. Martha Hodes. Through letters, diary entries, account books, and other archival material, Dr. Hodes presented her research on how the nation reacted to Lincoln’s assassination. Before this lecture, I had never wondered about the diverse ways people mourned Lincoln and how strongly grief manifested in personal narratives. In this way, every lecture provided me new knowledge that expanded my intellectual horizon.

My ultimate career goal is to pursue a PhD in History of Science and research transnational connections of science in the Atlantic World. The History Scholar Award program provided me with not only new knowledge of US history, but also strong connections that will help me, as a young historian, build my career. I am already looking forward to working with my fellow History Scholars in the near future. 


Midori Kawaue is a 2017 graduate of DePauw University, where she was an international student majoring in history and French. She is the co-editor of a 700-page Civil War prisoner-of-war diary, which is currently under review at Kent State University Press. In 2016 she was one of six fellows selected from a national pool for the Historic Deerfield Summer Fellowship Program.

Pure Food and Drug Act Passed: On This Day, 1906

Theodore Roosevelt at his desk, ca. 1907, by Harris and Ewing, Washington, DC (Gilder Lehrman Collection)On June 30, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act, marking an achievement in federal regulation of the food industry. The catalyst for these acts was Upton Sinclair’s best-selling book, published just six months prior, The Jungle. The book chronicles a fictional Lithuanian immigrant family’s attempts to earn a living amidst the exploitative labor practices of the Chicago meatpacking industry. Sinclair hoped that getting readers to sympathize with the difficult lives of the laboring classes would increase interest in socialism. But it was the graphic depictions of the unsanitary conditions and the dubious origin of the meat, which Sinclair spent months undercover researching, that grabbed attention instead, and sparking an outcry for food industry reform. 

Congress had already been considering a food purity act for some time, but action had been stalled by objections from conservative congressmen and food-processing companies. But the public outcry stirred up by The Jungle led President Roosevelt to start an investigation of the meatpacking industry, and hastened federal action to regulate the food industry. While Sinclair’s work failed to turn the public toward socialism, it is an example of the progressive reforms that were accomplished through the “muckraking” exposés of the era.







Earning Professional Development with the Gilder Lehrman Institute

Need professional development credit? Several Gilder Lehrman programs can be used by educators to obtain professional development points (PDPs) or continuing education units (CEUs) in historical content knowledge and curriculum design.

1. Self-Paced Courses

Self-Paced Courses are online, graduate-level courses on a diverse range of American history topics that can be taken at a teacher’s own time and pace, with no expiration dates or deadlines. Each course includes lectures by an eminent historian and pedagogical tools/videos, as well as supplementary primary source readings.
Credit: 15 clock hours

2. Teaching Literacy through History

Teaching Literacy through History™ (TLTH) is an interdisciplinary professional development workshop program that uses primary source documents and historical texts to improve K–12 education, presented in a series of completely customized workshops by master teachers and historians.
Credit: Varies depending on custom length of program. One full-day workshop typically offers 6–8 clock hours for all participants.

3. Online Graduate Courses

Online Courses offer you the opportunity to learn from leading scholars of US history in a virtual classroom with other students from across the country. These accredited graduate courses include weekly assignments and readings, discussions, and a final project.
Credit: 3 graduate credits in American history courses, and the equivalent number of clock hours per credit in your state (ex: Massachusetts offers 22.5 PD points per credit).

4. Summer Teacher Seminars

Teacher Seminars are weeklong programs held at some of the most prestigious universities and prominent historical sites in the United States, England, and Scotland.
Credit: 40 clock hours per weeklong seminar

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is undergoing an initiative to become an approved professional development / Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) provider in all states that have a registry or review process. We are currently an approved provider in

Texas (Sponsor #902-467)

Massachusetts (Sponsor #2016F0016)

New York (Sponsor #3406) 

Upon completing a Gilder Lehrman PD activity, New York, Massachusetts, and Texas teachers will receive a specialized letter of completion with all required components for obtaining PD in their state, including our provider #, start and end dates, number of hours, and a description of the activity. 

If you would like to take a GLI program for PD, but your state Department of Education or school district requires PD vendors to be state approved, please contact us at [email protected].

Get to Know the 2017 History Scholars: Melanie Sheehan

Melanie Sheehan is a 2017 Gilder Lehrman History Scholar. These 15 exceptional college students were in New York City, June 49, learning from eminent historians and exploring New York City through a historical lens. Here Melanie describes highlights from the program.

Melanie Sheehan (center) gets a close look at the first draft of the US Constitution at the Gilder Lehrman Collection.As a Gilder Lehrman History Scholar, I had the opportunity to meet with some prominent historians and to hear them discuss their current research. Because some talks covered a large swath of American history, I was able to connect discussions with professors like Ken Jackson and Thomas Heinrich with my own research interests in the New Deal. At the same time, I learned a great deal about people and events that I had previously known relatively little about, such as women in the American Revolution, from Carol Berkin.

I also very much enjoyed seeing historical documents and artifacts in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and the New-York Historical Society. Few moments compare to hearing the words, “This is James Madison’s hair.” Additionally, the professors and the Gilder Lehrman staff showed a real interest in supporting my ventures as a historian going forward, and the connections I made both with these accomplished professionals and with my peers in the program will prove invaluable in the future. 

The program also gave me, as a lifelong resident of the New York metropolitan area, an incredible opportunity to view New York City in a different light. For instance, during our walking tour of lower Manhattan, I realized that everyday sites like churches, cemeteries, and taverns, which I might have walked past to catch a subway in most circumstances, had served significant purposes during the American Revolution. My appreciation for the city deepened not only during organized events but also in the evenings, when fellow History Scholars and I had the opportunity to explore the city on our own. Seeing the reactions of my peers to Central Park and Rockefeller Center helped me to experience the city through the eyes of people who had never been to New York. And, of course, I enjoyed introducing them to Ray’s Pizza.    

Melanie is a 2017 graduate of Fordham University with a double major in history and American studies and a minor in economics. She will be starting a doctoral program in American history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall. 

African Americans in WWII

In June 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt wrote to NAACP president Arthur B. Springarn, seeking support in the event of war. Though the US would not enter the war until December 1941, the letter demonstrates that President Roosevelt was already anticipating American involvement. In his appeal to the NAACP, he praises the “unflinching loyalty” of African Americans in wars “from Bunker Hill to Flanders Field,” and, looking forward, expresses his expectation that the African American community “will not hesitate to pledge their allegiance anew, in these ominous days, to the cause of human liberty.”

The letter, in calling for unity against a common enemy, positions Nazi Germany as a threat to the American values of democracy, civil liberties, and human rights. However, many African Americans saw a stark contrast between these American ideals and the reality of racism. Poet Langston Hughes noted that when Americans decried the human rights injustices of the Nazis, “to a Negro, they might just as well have been speaking of white Southerners in Dixie.” Those who joined the war effort often faced discrimination from fellow Americans. One African American soldier, turned away from a Kansas lunchroom that readily served German prisoners of war, realized that “the people of Salina “Americans All,” War Manpower Commission, 1942. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)would serve these enemy soldiers and turn away black American GIs.”

Once the war began, African Americans supported the national war effort while also pushing for more rights at home, a balancing act that one newspaper dubbed the “Double V” campaign: “Victory at home, Victory abroad.” The wartime rhetoric that celebrated American democracy and equality, as well as the growing need for soldiers and factory workers, gave African Americans an opportunity to organize for and achieve several civil rights victories, such as an Executive Order banning discrimination in the defense industries. These gains, and the tactics through which they were achieved, lay the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement of the postwar era. 

Summer PD: Self-Paced Courses

Summer is a great time for teachers to take a Self-Paced Course and earn professional development credit while picking up content knowledge and pedagogical skills. Each Self-Paced Course is equivalent to 15 PD credit hours and can be taken at any time or place, with no deadlines or expiration dates. Click here to browse all 16 courses, or discover the two newest offerings below:

Professor Brunsman leads a lecture on the role of women in the American RevolutiRevolutionary America, led by Professor Denver Brunsman of George Washington University, explores the American Revolutionary era, including insight into new scholarly approaches to traditional subjects, including American resistance to British rule, the decision to fight for independence, and America’s victory in the Revolutionary War. Participants will consider marginalized figures and groups, including loyalists, women, African Americans, and American Indians, who challenge conventional interpretations of the Revolution. The course includes six seminars by Professor Brunsman, three pedagogy video tutorials, and primary source readings that complement the lectures.

Professor Cannato leads a tour of the Tenement MuseumAmerican Immigration History, led by Professor Vincent J. Cannato of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, explores the struggles and achievements of major groups who journeyed to a new home in the United States, including Irish, Italian, Jewish, Asian, and Latino Americans. Participants will consider questions involving exclusion and inclusion; patterns of settlement; race, gender, and ethnicity; and the evolution of federal government policy. The course includes five lectures by Professor Cannato, optional primary sources that complement the lectures, and virtual tours of Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Tenement Museum. 

Questions about the Self-Paced Course program or PD credit? Check out our FAQ page or email [email protected].

The H. L. Hunley Sinks the USS Housatonic

Capt. J. F. Green to Commo. S. C. Rowan, February 18, 1864. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)On the night of February 17, 1864, during the Civil War, the Confederacy made naval history off Charleston, South Carolina. The H. L. Hunley became the first submarine to sink an enemy ship, the USS Housatonic, in combat. Captain Joseph Foster Green of the USS Canandaigua took on the Housatonic’s survivors. Captain Green’s official letterbooks are a part of the Gilder Lehrman Collection. Through them, we see the Union navy’s response to this game-changing innovation. On February 18, Green wrote to Commodore Stephen C. Rowan to report the sinking:

I have respectfully to report that a boat belonging to the “Housatonic” reached this ship last night at about 9.20. giving me information that that vessel had been sunk, (by a Rebel Torpedo Craft) (at 8.45' P.M.)

I immediately slipped our cable and started for her anchorage, and on arriving near it at 9.30 discovered her sunk with her hammock nettings under water; ¾ dispatched all boats and rescued from the wreck twenty one (21) officers and one hundred and twenty nine (129) men.

There are missing and supposed to be drowned the following named Officers and men. Ensign Ewd C. Haseltine, Capts Clerk Chas. O. Muzzey, Qr Master John Williamss, 2nd C. Fireman John Walsh, Landsman Theodore Parker.

"Destruction of Housatonic" by William Waud (Library of Congress)Subsequent letters contain information about the crew and inquiries made into the sinking. But perhaps the most telling letter was written on May 23, 1864. In it, Green describes the uneasy state of the Union fleet, awaiting another attack from a “Rebel Torpedo Craft.” He reports that on May 20 something was spotted in the water near the Housatonic wreck:

The fact of a strange object being seen on the surface of the water two consecutive nights in the neighborhood and track of the blockading vessels, and disappearing suddenly, is sufficient cause for suspecting the strange object to have been a “Rebel Torpedoe Craft”: – and it is best in my opinion that this suspicion should exist so long as it does not amount to a panic, in order to arouse the greatest vigilance on the part of officers and Men.

I am doubtful, however, as to it having been a Torpedoe Craft, particularly after my experience this morning at daylight while standing in for an anchorage. . . . when an object resembling a Keg was discovered a little abaft our starboard beam. I immediately wore around stood for and endeavored to keep sight of, but lost it. Soon after, an object in the water, differing in appearance from that first seen, was discovered in another direction, which on approaching proved to be an old straw hat. I then stood in again for an anchorage, and had gone but a little distance when the first object seen was again discovered. I stood for and succeeded in picking it up, it proved to be a common chair, it floated on its back with the seat about two thirds out of water, consequently, when the seat was at right angles with the line of sight, it appeared like a Keg, and when parallel to the line of sight, or edge on, it could not be seen.

The Union navy did not know that the Hunley sank on the same night as the Housatonic and that the Confederates did not have another submarine.

In 1995, the National Underwater and Marine Agency located the wreck of the Hunley in Charleston harbor. On August 8, 2000, the US Navy, the Hunley Commission, and Friends of the Hunley raised the sub and sent it to Warren Lasch Conservation Center at Clemson University. For the last seventeen years, conservators have worked to free the ship from the sediment that encased it. The crew compartment was opened and the eight-man crew received a formal burial in 2004. The work continues today. Learn more about the project from the Naval History and Heritage Command.

You can read more about the development of another Confederate submarine, the David, here.

Looking Back on a Year of #EduHam

Yesterday, the Hamilton Education Program wrapped up its first full school year of matinees. From October 2016 to June 2017, the program held 24 matinees in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, giving students from more than 430 Title I schools across the country the opportunity to tap into their own creativity, discover the Founding Era through dynamic lessons, and attend a special student matinee of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton

However, this is just the beginning for #EduHam—the program will continue this fall in New York, Chicago, and, starting with Los Angeles, in select cities on the Hamilton national tour!

Click through the slideshow below to view highlights from the year.


The Gilder Lehrman Institute’s June Sale

For the end of the school year, from June 1 to June 30, all products in the Gilder Lehrman History Shop are 40% off. Use the summer to earn professional development hours with self-paced courses, stock up on classroom posters, and develop dynamic, interactive lesson plans with our teaching resources, books, and multimedia!

Click here to view special sales sets.

The Education of Women: On This Day, 1735

On May 19, 1735, the New-York Weekly Journal republished an article from England’s The Guardian on the reasons to educate women. Most notably, the author (most likely Joseph Addison) states that women, though they have different roles than men, have “the same improvable Minds” by virtue of their status as human beings. “Learning and Knowledge are Perfections in us, not as we are Men, but as we are reasonable Creatures, in which Order, of Beings the Female World is upon the same Level with the Male.” The author even argues that women have certain advantages over men in obtaining an education: more spare time, a natural gift for speech, a responsibility for educating their children, and the need to keep busy.

The quality of a woman’s education in 18th- and 19th-century America—even after the spread of free common schools—often rested on the magnanimity of her father or husband, and women who were granted this rare opportunity frequently echoed Addison’s thoughts. Mercy Otis Warren, author of political articles, satires, and verses during the Revolutionary era, explained to a female friend that “the deficiency” of women’s accomplishments “lies not so much in the inferior contexture of female intelligence as in the different education bestowed on the sexes.” She accepted her role as a dutiful puritan housewife, but believed “a concern for the welfare of society ought equally to glow in every human heart.”

Similarly, Lydia Maria Child, editor of The National Anti-Slavery Standard and one of a growing number of women’s rights advocates, believed that educating women would benefit all of society by creating a happier domestic sphere. “The more women become rational companions,” she wrote in an 1843 article, “partners in business and in thought, as well as in affection and amusement, the more highly will men appreciate home.”

Learn more about women’s contributions to American history in History by Era

Congratulations to the Summer 2017 History Scholars!

Fifteen college juniors and seniors were chosen for the Gilder Lehrman History Scholar Award based on their exemplary leadership skills, commitment to public service, academic excellence, and demonstrated passion for American history. This summer, the scholars will spend a week New York City, where they’ll have the opportunity to explore the field of American history through archival visits, special presentations, and meetings with eminent historians. They will also be honored at a celebratory dinner.

Learn about our newest scholars below:

Michael Antosiewicz attends Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences and is a rising senior majoring in history and classics (Latin and Greek) and minoring in philosophy. He is involved with the Aresty Research Center and WRSU Studio.

Rebecca Barker is a 2017 graduate of Liberty University and grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland. A double major in history and cinematic arts, her passion is to tell the untold stories of history through film. She is the recipient of the Zaki Gordon Award for Excellence in Screenwriting for her World War I thesis film We Are the Dead.

Jacob Bruggeman, from Brunswick, Ohio, is a sophomore honors student at Miami University with majors in history and political science. He studied in Italy during the summer of 2016, and was chosen as a 2017–2018 fellow at Miami’s Humanities Center as well as a 2017 Undergraduate Summer Scholar. He has worked for the County Commissioners’ Association of Ohio and the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio as an Ohio Public Leader Fellow. Jacob also serves on the AEI Executive Board, the JANUS Forum Steering Committee, the “I Am Miami” values committee, is the student editor of Miami University’s undergraduate journal of history, and is currently campaigning for a seat on the city council of Oxford, Ohio.

Robert Chad Campbell is a 2017 graduate of Texas Tech University, where he majored in history. While attending college, he participated in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, presented at various conferences, and studied abroad in Germany. In 2016, he was endorsed by Texas Tech for the Rhodes Scholarship. Outside of academics, he served as historian of the Texas Tech Chapter of Mortar Board in 2016–2017 and mentored elementary school students in Lubbock, Texas. He enjoys collecting historical artifacts and is particularly interested in the history of the Great Depression and World War II. He plans to attend George Washington University in the fall, pursuing a master’s degree in museum studies.

Amanda Horrocks is a 2017 graduate of Franklin Pierce University, where she majored in American history and secondary education, with a minor in public history. She has completed three education internships at local museums in New England and was part of two faculty-led exhibition teams at Franklin Pierce, creating exhibits on Willa Cather and Anne Frank.

Midori Kawaue is a 2017 graduate of DePauw University, where she was an international student majoring in history and French. She is the co-editor of a 700-page Civil War prisoner-of-war diary, which is currently under review at Kent State University Press. In 2016 she was one of six fellows selected from a national pool for the Historic Deerfield Summer Fellowship Program.

Rebecca McCarron of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, is a 2017 graduate of The Catholic University of America, where she majored in history and minored in Hispanic studies. She is particularly interested in late 19th- and early 20th-century American social history with a focus on American citizenship. In the fall, Rebecca plans to attend graduate school at Mansfield College, Oxford.

Samantha Perlman is a Massachusetts native and 2017 graduate of Emory University, where she double majored in history and African American studies. She is an active student leader, having served as orientation captain, vice president of membership for Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, and Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, a member of Emory Honor Council, and on the Student Alumni Board. She wrote her honors thesis on the history and development of affirmative action in undergraduate admissions at Emory, inspired to explore access to higher education after witnessing student protest movements while abroad in South Africa. Having interned in government at the state and federal level, Samantha intends to pursue law and hopes to become a federal judge. She has been chosen as an FAO Schwartz Family Foundation Fellow at Generation Citizen in Boston.

Madison Porter is a 2017 graduate history major from Brigham Young University. A native Arizonian, Madison enjoys tennis, being outdoors, and traveling. She will be pursuing a Master of Studies of Early Modern British and European History, 1500–Present at Oxford in the fall.

Heather Riganti is a 2017 graduate of Colorado State University-Pueblo, where she majored in history and psychology. She is a mother to a young toddler, a military wife, and a community volunteer. She hopes to teach US history and government to high school students, and will pursue a graduate degree in American history from Ashland University in Ohio.

Melanie Sheehan is a 2017 graduate of Fordham University with a double major in history and American studies and a minor in economics. She is particularly interested in the intersection of Cold War politics, labor, and populist conservatism. She will be starting a doctoral program in American history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall of 2017.

Emily Shyr is a 2017 graduate of Columbia University, where she double majored in American history and music. Her research interests include the rise of the welfare state and its attendant inequalities in the 20th century. This fall, she hopes to attend Cambridge University.

Sydney VanLeeuwen is a rising senior history major and documentary film minor from Mercyhurst University. She runs on the cross country team, leads the college Circle K club, and aspires to one day make a film as good as Ken Burns’s Civil War.

Andrew Wofford is a student of history, Spanish, and colonialism studies. A graduate of Tufts University, he has focused on the intersection of African American and Native American history in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Angela Zhao is a rising junior at the University of Chicago majoring in history and minoring in English and creative writing. She focuses on 20th-century Asian American immigration history, specifically tracing collaboration and joint advocacy among ethnic minority communities during the Cold War and the later Civil Rights era. She is the co-chair of the Women in Public Service Program at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, which prepares young women to be leaders of civic engagement.

Gilder Lehrman 2017 Gala: Honoring Champions of History John Nau III and Jeffrey Seller

On Monday, May 8 the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History held its 2017 Gala, bringing together more than 300 supporters at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City. This year we honored John L. Nau, III, and Jeffrey Seller, raising over $1.1 million in recognition of these individuals who have made an enormous impact on American history education and historic preservation. 

President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute James G. Basker praised the honorees for having “risen to the very top of their respective businesses while also making transformative contributions to American history, to education, and to civic life.” In recognition of these contributions, Mr. Nau and Mr. Seller received the Gilder Lehrman Champion of History Award.

Honoree John L. Nau, III, is chairman and CEO of Silver Eagle Distributors LP. Mr. Nau’s generosity and commitment to service is apparent through his 40-year participation in civic, community, and philanthropic organizations in Texas and across the country. He is currently chairman of the Texas Historical Commission and on the board of the National Park Foundation, the Civil War Trust, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. Mr. Nau has supported the Gilder Lehrman Institute since 2003, and was instrumental in establishing the National History Teacher of the Year program. Under former president George W. Bush, he served as chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. President Bush, in a special written tribute, commended Mr. Nau for being “a lifelong and passionate student of history who has done so much to advance public understanding of the story of his nation and state.”

Honoree Jeffrey Seller is the four-time Tony Award-winning producer of the Broadway musicals Rent, Avenue Q, In the Heights, and Hamilton. Two of these musicals, Rent and Hamilton, also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Mr. Seller, along with former business partner Kevin McCollum, created the Broadway lottery for Rent, beginning a Broadway tradition that has, for twenty years, provided affordable access to Broadway productions. Mr. Seller served as the catalyst in the creation of the Hamilton Education Program, which has given low-income students across the country the opportunity to explore the Founding Era and their own creative talents. Mr. Seller remains actively involved in the education program, which, within its first five years, will reach 250,000 students.

Attendees who came to celebrate history and honor Mr. Nau and Mr. Seller included Gilder Lehrman’s two newest trustees, Julian Robertson and Luis Miranda; leading historians Carol Berkin, David Blight, and Ron Chernow; Craig Stapleton, former US ambassador to the Czech Republic and to France and his wife Debbie Stapleton, a trustee of the Institute; Jim Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust; Carmen Fariña, chancellor of New York City Schools; and Pam Schafler, chair of the New-York Historical Society, and Louise Mirrer, president of the New-York Historical Society, among other distinguished guests in the political, philanthropic, historical, and education fields.

The evening concluded with a special performance by Providence St. Mel student Kai Bosley, a participant in the Hamilton Education Program’s inaugural Chicago matinee. Ms. Bosley’s powerful piece, written from the perspective of a war-weary George Washington camped at Valley Forge, was inspired by a letter by Washington that Ms. Bosley studied as part of the Hamilton Education Program. The performance joined several interactive activities throughout the evening including an audience-wide history quiz and a demonstration of the Gilder Lehrman Institute’s new virtual reality Google Expeditions based on Alexander Hamilton’s life.

View photos from the evening below! 
Photo Credit: llir Bajraktari


Teacher Appreciation Week: Teaching Resources

Participants in the 2016 Immigrants in American History Teacher Seminar visiting Museo del Barrio in New YorkIt’s Teacher Appreciation Week! At Gilder Lehrman, we’re celebrating social studies/history teachers for their invaluable work in not only bringing history to life for their students, but educating future generations of knowledgable, civics-minded citizens. In recognition of these efforts, we’ve highlighted some of our most popular teaching resources. Explore them by era below:

The Americas to 1620

Colonization and Settlement, 1585-1763

The American Revolution, 1763-1783

The New Nation, 1783-1815

National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Rise of Industrial America, 1877-1900

Progressive Era to New Era, 1900-1929

Great Depression & WWII, 1929-1945

1945-Present and Civics