2023 Special Topics in History Registration



    American Jewish Historical Society
    Hingham Historical Society logo
    National Civil Rights Museum logo
    Echoes & Reflections logo
    Historic New Orleans Collection logo
    Sixth Floor Museum Logo

    Participants across all twelve Teacher Seminars, the Gilder Lehrman Teacher Symposium, The Making of America NEH Summer Institute, and the in-person and online programming as part of our in-person seminars have exclusive complimentary access to our Special Topics in History series held this summer. These two-hour-long sessions feature deep dives into topics, eras, and special themes, led by staff and faculty at six outstanding historical institutions. 

    Special Topics in History Schedule

    Session Date and Time Session Topic and Speakers

    June 28, 4:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. ET

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    Hidden Stories from Reconstruction in Louisiana

    Reconstruction was a dynamic, transformational time for the United States, particularly in Louisiana. During the fifteen-year period (1862–1877), Louisiana citizens encountered many profound economic, political, racial, and social challenges, which significantly affected the dynamics of their society. The era was marked by massacres, protests, and violence, as well as extraordinary individuals who championed civil rights, suffrage, and creative expression.  

    Join the Education team at The Historic New Orleans Collection as they reveal little-known stories from this period using primary sources from the HNOC archive. Learn about the remarkable life of Oscar J. Dunn, a Radical Republican who was the nation’s first African American lieutenant governor and acting governor. Explore the tragic and largely forgotten Mechanics Institute Massacre and other violent conflicts. Discover how Black citizens used protests, poetry, and education to create lasting change and learn how to introduce these lessons into your classroom.

    This session is sponsored by The Historic New Orleans Collection. The Historic New Orleans Collection is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. 

    July 11, 3:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m. ET

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    The Casablanca Conference of 1943: Roosevelt, Churchill, and World War II

    Join the Hingham Historical Society for a discussion with historian James B. Conroy (winner of the 2017 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize) focused on the research behind his latest book, The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan That Won the War. The Devils Will Get No Rest is the first full account of the Casablanca Conference of January 1943, the secret ten-day parlay in Morocco where FDR, Churchill, and their divided high command hammered out a winning strategy at the tipping point of World War II. The book, and this discussion, is a window upon the legendary statesmen, generals, and admirals who overcame their differences, transformed their alliance from a necessity to a bond, forged a war-winning plan, and glimpsed the postwar world.

    This session is sponsored by the Hingham Historical Society. The Hingham Historical Society offers year-round educational programs, exhibits, and activities out of three historic buildings in downtown Hingham, Massachusetts—a coastal town equidistant between Boston and Plymouth. The Hingham Heritage Museum is located in the 1818 Derby Academy, one of the nation’s oldest co-educational schools, while its house museums—the Old Ordinary, a seventeenth-century tavern, and the National Historic Landmark, the seventeenth-century Major General Benjamin Lincoln house—are just two blocks away. The Society’s Collections of close to 20,000 items spanning all three locations and categories include fine and decorative arts, costumes and textiles, diaries, documents, and photographs chronicling Hingham’s deep and remarkable history.

    Watch the recording of the Hingham Historical Society’s 2022 Special Topics in History session below.

    July 20, 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. ET

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    America and the Holocaust

    Using rich primary sources from the United States, we will focus on how an underlying current of antisemitism drove American responses to the persecution of European Jews. We will examine the roles of the government, media, and foreign actors in shaping American attitudes and policy during this era and the impact these choices had on those attempting to escape the Nazi regime. This program will feature Dr. Robert Williams, Finci-Viterbi Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation and Jennifer Goss, MA, veteran secondary history educator, and Program Manager for Echoes & Reflections.

    This session is sponsored by Echoes & Reflections. A project of ADL, the USC Shoah Foundation, and Yad Vashem, Echoes & Reflections is dedicated to reshaping the way that teachers and students understand, process, and navigate the world through the events of the Holocaust. The Holocaust is more than a historical event; it’s part of the larger human story. Educating students about its significance is a great responsibility. We partner with educators to help them introduce students to the complex themes of the Holocaust and to understand its lasting effect on the world.

    July 24, 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. ET

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    “Justice Is Absolute”: Activism in American Jewish Communities in the 1950s and ’60s

    In the immediate aftermath of World War II, individuals and organizations in American Jewish communities mobilized around a variety of issues on both domestic and international fronts. Some worked to help achieve safety for Jews and other refugees in the United States and around the world still in peril. These advocates, working in concert with activists from other marginalized communities, used a variety of methods to fight against discriminatory laws and policies related to immigration, voting rights, housing, and education. Seeking to create a more just United States for all, organizations like the American Jewish Congress and HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) worked closely with activists and organizers across initiatives to increase visibility and garner support. Individuals such as Bayard Rustin, Stephen Wise, and Martin Luther King, Jr., all worked towards the shared goal of a more equitable society, collaborating on events, demonstrations, and legal strategies. Their work helped move many of these important issues within the public discourse. 
    This session will explore both the successes and the failures of these movements and their impact on the larger trajectory of American history. The American Jewish Historical Society's staff will use AJHS's collections to tell the stories of these advocacy groups, many of which are still in existence today, and how their work continues to affect the larger American political landscape.

    This session is sponsored by the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS), the oldest ethnic, cultural archive in the United States. AJHS provides access to more than 30 million documents and 50,000 books, photographs, art, and artifacts that reflect the history of the Jewish presence in the United States from 1654 to the present.

    Established in 1892, the mission of AJHS is to foster awareness and appreciation of American Jewish heritage and to serve as a national scholarly resource for research through the collection, preservation, and dissemination of materials relating to American Jewish history. At our home on West 16th Street in downtown Manhattan, AJHS illuminates American Jewish history through our many archival treasures, scholarship, exhibitions, and public programs. Among the treasures of this heritage are the handwritten original of Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus,” which graces the Statue of Liberty; records of the nation’s leading Jewish communal organizations; and important collections in the fields of education, philanthropy, science, sports, business, and the arts.

    Watch the recording of AJHS’s 2022 Special Topics in History session below.

    July 27, 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. ET

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    Camelot at 60: Exploring the Kennedy Presidency in the 21st Century

    On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. In the slightly more than 1,000 days of his presidency, Kennedy led the United States through several generation-defining events, issues, and challenges that continue to impact the world today. In the sixty years since, the nation and the world have experienced great change which stemmed from the 1960s and Kennedy’s time in office. Immediately after the assassination, the American public asked the question “What if Kennedy hadn’t died?”, a comment still made today. Focusing on the questions “Why is President Kennedy relevant today?” and “How does this impact me?” participants will explore President Kennedy’s challenge-based agenda in his September 26, 1963, speech given in Great Falls, MT, where he discusses his hopes for Americans living in the 1960s and the 21st century. Using Museum collection items and Kennedy’s own words, participants will examine his approach to foreign affairs including the Cold War and communism and domestic issues such as the economy, environment, and civil rights. Through discussion and hands-on activities, participants will explore how these issues have evolved in the six decades since the assassination and continue to influence our lives today.

    This session is sponsored by the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Located inside the former Texas School Book Depository Building in downtown Dallas, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey attracts visitors from all over the United States and across the world. In 1989, the main exhibit, John F. Kennedy and the Memory of a Nation, opened to the public on the sixth floor where critical evidence was found linked to President Kennedy’s Assassination on November 22, 1963. The exhibit is divided into key historical sections with contextual overlays following the path of John F. Kennedy’s life, death, and legacy. The museum encourages visitors to examine the evolution of today’s global society through Kennedy’s presidential legacy. 

    Watch the recording of The Sixth Floor Museum’s 2022 Special Topics in History session below.

    August 1, 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. ET

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    The March on Washington at 60: Revisiting an Iconic Protest

    Through exploring unique primary sources and focusing on the role of the media and music, we will delve into the March on Washington in 1963, a monumental moment in civil rights history. During this event, 250,000 to 300,000 marchers of all ages, races, and genders came together to protest for jobs and freedom. With presenters Dory Lerner (Museum Educator at the National Civil Rights Museum), Edith Lee-Payne (activist and foot soldier from the 1963 March on Washington), and Dr. Charles Hughes (Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Director of the Lynne & Henry Turley Memphis Center at Rhodes College), we will hear oral histories and highlight lesser-known activists and their significant roles at the March, such as Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, and John Lewis. We will reflect on the breadth of incredible musicians and singers, whose genres ranged from opera to gospel to folk. As we examine Dr. King’s often oversimplified “I Have a Dream” speech, we can consider new approaches to teaching this powerful sermon and its lasting impact. 

    This session is sponsored by the National Civil Rights Museum. Noted as one of the nation’s premier heritage and cultural museums, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, is steadfast in its mission to share the culture and lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement and explore how this significant era continues to shape equality and freedom globally.

    Established in 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum is located at the former Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Through interactive exhibits, historic collections, dynamic speakers, and special events, the museum offers visitors a chance to walk through history and learn more about a tumultuous and inspiring period of change.

    Watch the recording of the National Civil Rights Museum’s 2022 Special Topics in History session below.