Courses: Spring 2023

To apply for the Gettysburg College–Gilder Lehrman MA in American History, click the “To Apply” menu option.


The spring 2023 term begins Thursday, February 9, 2023, and ends Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Registration for courses begins Saturday, November 26, 2022. and ends Wednesday, February 15, 2023. 

Applications for the Gettysburg College–Gilder Lehrman MA in American History are currently open and accepted on a rolling basis. Click here to begin your application.


America’s First Civil Rights Movement: From the Revolution to Reconstruction

with Kate Masur, Professor of History, Northwestern University

This class explores the little-known movement for racial equality in the free states from the nation’s founding to the Civil War and Reconstruction. While the abolitionist movement is a familiar part of many history courses, we’ve known far less about activists’ fight for racial justice in the free states themselves. The course emphasizes African Americans’ leadership in this struggle; the interpenetration of race, class, and gender oppression; the complex history of citizenship; the changing political landscape of the antebellum United States, and the US Constitution.

We’ll explore both small-scale histories and large structural changes. For instance, we’ll look at free Black sailors from places like Boston and New York, whose work brought them to southern ports where they were incarcerated simply because they were Black. We’ll also delve into the movement against racist “black laws” in midwestern states like Ohio and Illinois, examining Black political mobilization and the work of White allies who fought for racial justice. Students will also emerge with an enhanced understanding of the US Constitution, American federalism (that is, the division of power among local, state, and national governments), and the Reconstruction amendments.


Black Women’s History

with Kellie Carter Jackson, Michael and Denise Kellen ’68 Associate Professor in the Department of Africana Studies, Wellesley College

This course focuses on African American women’s history in the United States with certain aspects of Black women’s activism and leadership covered within the African Diaspora. We will examine the ways in which these women engaged in local, national, and international freedom struggles while simultaneously defining their identities as wives, mothers, leaders, citizens, and workers. We will pay special attention to the diversity of Black women’s experiences and to the dominant images of Black women in America from Mumbet (the first enslaved Black woman to sue for her freedom and win) to contemporary issues of race, sex, and class in the Age of (Michelle) Obama. Participants will explore such questions as: What is Black women’s history? How does Black women’s history add to our understanding of American history? Where should Black women’s history go from here?


The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass

with David Blight, Sterling Professor of History, African American Studies, and American Studies, Yale University

These twelve lectures, the readings, and the discussions probe the nature of the life, the work, and the thought of the nineteenth-century abolitionist, orator, and author Frederick Douglass. We will examine in depth the public and private sides of Douglass’s life and his importance as a thinker and as a political activist in the great dramas of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. 


Voting and Elections in American History

with Allan Lichtman, Distinguished Professor of History, American University

For most of American history, the right to vote has been a privilege restricted by wealth, sex, race, and literacy. Economic qualifications were finally eliminated in the nineteenth century, but the ideal of a White man’s republic persisted long after that. Women and racial minorities had to fight hard and creatively to secure their voices. 

This course examines the history of voting and elections in America from the constitutional era through the present from an interdisciplinary perspective. It explores both theories of voting and elections and struggles for the vote by minority peoples, women, and other groups. These struggles have taken place in the streets, in the halls of legislatures, and in the courtrooms. It concludes by examining recent threats to American democracy and exploring ways to improve access to voting and ensure the conduct of free and fair elections in the United States.


Making Modern America: Business and Politics in the 20th Century

with Margaret O’Mara, Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Chair of American History, University of Washington

How has the past century of American history shaped the political and economic landscape of the early twenty-first century? What is the broader context and historical backstory of contemporary political and social movements, business practices, and global flows of people, capital, and ideas? How can we use historical knowledge and the tools of historical analysis to better understand and address present-day challenges? With these questions in mind, this course explores key moments and people in the history of the United States from the end of World War I to the present.

Course organization is both chronological and thematic, performing deep, evidence-based study of particular events and people in recent US history to explore the evolving role of government, grassroots activism and fights for individual and group rights, partisan political change, technology as a product and shaper of society, changing patterns of production and consumption, migration and immigration, financial systems and global markets, and America’s changing role in the world. 


Historiography and Historical Methods

with Andrew Robertson, Professor of History, Lehman College and The Graduate Center, CUNY

Historiography is the study of historical writing. Students enrolled in this course will journey through American history guided by Professor Andrew Robertson and seven other professors (Zara Anishanslin, University of Delaware; Ned Blackhawk, Yale University; Kristopher Burrell, Hostos Community College; Sarah King, SUNY Geneseo; Lauren Santangelo, Princeton University; Nora Slonimsky, Iona College and the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies; and Wendy Wall, Binghamton University).

Students will read and discuss historical interpretations of the American past as they have changed over time in specific chronological periods: colonial/Revolutionary history, the early nineteenth century to Reconstruction, the Gilded Age to the Cold War, and the 1960s to the present. This course will also present lectures on the evolving historiographies of African American history, Native American history, and women’s history by scholars specializing in those fields. The historical methods portion of the course will teach students to interrogate primary sources and to read secondary sources with a critical eye.


Capstone in American History

The course is the capstone seminar for students completing their master’s degree in American history, and its sole focus is the production of either a substantial original research paper or a capstone project of comparable significance as determined by course faculty.

Email onlinecourses@gilderlehrman.org to register for this course.


Current students can click here for information on how to register.