Peopling the American Past is a Teaching American History grant project that provides an exciting opportunity for elementary, middle and high school teachers of American history from seven small and rural Virginia school districts to expand and improve their content knowledge and instructional skills. The goals of this project are to focus the teaching of American history around key individuals, events, and documents and to focus the dispersed resources of these districts into a strong and ongoing multi-school consortium supported by a close partnership with university historians, museums, historical sites and online resources.   We intend to foster engagement with the American past by bringing teachers (and their students) into contact with exciting, complex stories about individuals and events and developing skills of historical thinking—especially the analysis of primary sources—that are essential to sophisticated content knowledge.

Our Teaching American History website will serve as an essential tool to help participating teachers from these seven Virginia districts accomplish the goals of this project. Components of the website include:

  • An updated schedule of workshops, site visits, and book discussion groups as well as a list of reading assignments and reflection questions, and due dates for lesson plans and units.
  • A collaboration section in which participating TAH teachers will share information, resources, and responses within both grade level groups and book discussion groups.
  • A resources listing containing all workshop materials, such as articles, bibliographies, teaching strategies, and recommended classroom materials.
  • A units section for participating teachers to post the lesson plans and extended curriculum units they create that reflect their expanded curriculum knowledge, use of primary sources, engaging teaching strategies and incorporation of the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).


Project Team
Project Team

(Project Director) Eleanor Greene earned a B.A. with High Honors in History from the University of Rochester (1965), and received an M.A. in Teaching History from Yale University (1969) and an M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. Greene taught a wide range of American history courses for more than 20 years in middle and high school, including schools in Northern Virginia. She recently worked with elementary teachers and historians to design a pilot curriculum for Virginia history based on the Laurel Grove School. Greene has successfully worked with teachers to improve their content mastery and develop effective strategies first by supervising student teachers in cooperation with teacher training programs at both the University of Maryland and George Washington University, and in the last year she initiated and co-facilitated a Mentor Teacher Program for seven Washington, D.C. public charter schools. She was project director for a two-year, $300,000 federal School Action Grant that included intensive teacher training and on-site staff development.

(Project Assistant) Patrice Mortson received her bachelors degree in History and Economics from George Mason University in August 2003 where she graduated with high distinction. Her past work experience has been in the field of health care management. In addition to her administration of the “Peopling the American Past” Teaching American History Grant Program, she is also project assistant with Alexandria City Public Schools' Teaching American History Program titled “Creating a More Perfect Community.” She is currently pursuing a masters in education at George Mason University.

(Project Historian) Sharon Leon is a Research Assistant Professor at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. She received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and her doctorate in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. Her dissertation examined the responses of U.S. Catholics to the eugenics movement in the first half of the twentieth century. Her research interests include the study of race and gender in the history of religion and the history of science. Her work has appeared in Church History and the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences.

(Academic Program Director) Kelly Schrum is the Assistant Director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History & New Media (CHNM) and Assistant Research Professor at George Mason University (GMU). She has worked extensively in the areas of new media, history content development, and teacher training. She has authored numerous articles on history and new media, including “Surfing the Past Online: New Media and History in the Classroom,” in Perspectives (May 2003); “Making History on the Web Matter in Your Classroom,” in The History Teacher (May 2001); and “History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web,” in Social Education (April 2001). She has made numerous presentations on teaching and new media for organizations such as the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the National Council for Social Studies. Schrum received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 2000 and is currently revising her dissertation, Some Wore Bobby Sox: The Emergence of Teenage Girls' Culture, 1920-1950 for publication (Palgrave Macmillan Press, forthcoming September 2004). Other publications include “'That Cosmopolitan Feeling': Teenage Girls and Literacy, 1920-1970,” in Girls and Literacy in the U.S.: A Historical Sourcebook (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003) and “'Teena Means Business': Teenage Girls' Culture and Seventeen Magazine, 1944-1950” in Sherrie Inness, ed., Delinquent Daughters: Twentieth-Century American Girls' Culture (New York: NYU Press, 1998).

(Senior Historian) Roy Rosenzweig is College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of History at GMU, where he also heads CHNM. He is the co-author, with Elizabeth Blackmar, of The Park and the People: A History of Central Park, which won several awards including the 1993 Historic Preservation Book Award and the 1993 Urban History Association Prize for Best Book on North American Urban History. He also co-authored (with David Thelen) The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life, which has won prizes from the Center for Historic Preservation and the American Association for State and Local History. He was the lead author of the CD-ROM, Who Built America?, which won James Harvey Robinson Prize of the American Historical Association for its “outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning of history.” His other books include Eight Hours for What We Will: Workers and Leisure in an Industrial City, 1870-1920 (Cambridge University Press) and edited volumes on history museums History Museums in the United States: A Critical Assessment), history and the public (Presenting the Past: Essays on History and the Public), history teaching (Experiments in History Teaching), oral history (Government and the Arts in 1930s America), and recent history (A Companion to Post-1945 America). He currently serves as Vice-President of the Research Division of the American Historical Association and he recently won the Richard W. Lyman Award (awarded by the National Humanities Center and the Rockefeller Foundation) for “outstanding achievement in the use of information technology to advance scholarship and teaching in the humanities.”

(Consortium Coordinator) Patricia L. Downy is an instructional coordinator for Fauquier County Public Schools as well as an adjunct instructor at Mary Washington College and an instructor at James Madison University. She was recently librarian for Fauquier public library and school library. Her commitment to library science and fostering a love of reading has led to her involvement in all levels of education, from teaching young children to instructing university classes. Recently, she worked to develop prototypes for twenty-five educational games to reinforce essential understandings, knowledge, and skills in support of K-5 History and Social Science curriculum for use at SOL Family Review Nights. She received a B.A. in Art History from Fordham University, an M.L.S. in Library Science from Long Island University, and an M.A. in Teaching and Instruction from GMU.

(Professional Development Consultant) Hugh T. Sockett is Professor of Education at GMU based in the College of Arts and Sciences.  Before coming to GMU in 1987, he was Dean of Education at the University of East Anglia (UK) and was Professor and Director of the Institute of Continuing Education at the New University of Ulster based in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, from 1975-1980.  At GMU, he was founding director of the Center for Applied Research and Development (CARD), later merged into the Institute for Educational Transformation (IET), which he devised and directed from 1991-1998. In 1998 he resigned as Director and joined the Department of Public and International Affairs at GMU.  He has published numerous articles and six books, including The Moral Base for Teacher Professionalism, and Transforming Teacher Education in 2001 with Betsy Demulder, Pamela LePage, and Diane Wood. He is also President of The Urban Alternatives Foundation, a non-profit organization, which runs a major community project in south Arlington, Virginia.

Academic Program Instructors and Workshop Leaders

Jane Turner Censer, an associate professor of history at GMU, received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1980. Her newest book is The Reconstruction of White Southern Womanhood, 1865-1895 (2003). Among her earlier works are North Carolina Planters and their Children, 1800-1860 (1984) and volumes four and six of the Frederick Law Olmsted Papers, (Defending the Union: The Civil War and the U.S. Sanitary Commission, 1861-1863 and The Years of Olmsted, Vaux & Company, 1865-1874). She also edited and wrote an introduction for Sherwood Bonner's Like unto Like, a feminist novel about the Reconstruction South, re-published by the University of South Carolina Press as part of its “Southern Classics” series. Her essays and prize winning articles have appeared in numerous journals including the Journal of Southern History, Comparative Studies in Society and History, American Journal of Legal History, Southern Cultures, and American Quarterly.

Peter R. Henriques is Associate Professor Emeritus of History at GMU. He teaches American and Virginia history with special emphasis on Virginia and the American Revolution and the Virginia Founding Fathers. His book, The Death of George Washington: He Died as He Lived, was published by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association in December of 2000, and his biography of George Washington for the National Park Service was published in the spring of 2002. The editor of the local history journal Northern Virginia Heritage, his writings include: “The Final Struggle Between George Washington and the Grim King: Washington's Attitude Toward Death and Afterlife,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (VMHB) (Winter 1999); “Major Lawrence Washington Versus the Reverend Charles Green: A Case Study of the Squire and the Parson,” VMHB (April 1992); “An Uneven Friendship: The Relationship Between George Washington and George Mason,” VMHB (April 1989). A member of the editorial board for the George Washington Papers and of the Mount Vernon committee of George Washington Scholars, he is a frequent speaker at Mount Vernon, conducts a fall lecture series on Washington at Gadsby's Tavern, and is currently writing a book on various aspect of Washington's life and character.

T. Mills Kelly is the Associate Director of CHNM and Assistant Professor of History and Art History at GMU. He is also the Coordinator for the Western Civilization Program at GMU. His research on Czech, Czechoslovak, and Habsburg history, has appeared in such journals as the Austrian History Yearbook and Nationalities Papers. He is currently completing a manuscript tentatively titled, Without Remorse: Czech National Socialism and the Origins of Radical Nationalism in East Central Europe. Kelly was a Research Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 1996 and is an alumnus of the Wilson Center's Junior Scholars Training Seminar. During the 1999-2000 academic year, he was a Pew National Fellow with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and is currently the Co-Director of two National Endowment for the Humanities funded Exemplary Education Projects: World History Matters and Women, World History and the Web. From 1998-2002, Kelly was the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Civic Education Project, an international educational NGO working to bring about democratic reform and the improvement of higher education in the countries of the former Soviet bloc.

Wendi Manuel-Scott is a doctoral student at Howard University and expects to receive her Ph.D. degree in December 2003 from the Department of History, with a dissertation entitled “Soldiers of the Field: Jamaican Farm workers in the United States during World War II,” which she will defend this August. Her fields of teaching strength are women's history in the Caribbean and the African Diaspora. From 1998-2000 she was a fellow of the national program Preparing Future Faculty (PFF), which prepares graduate students for the professoriate. Currently she is a GMU pre-doctoral fellow in the history department.

Melani McAlister is Associate Professor of American Studies at George Washington University, where she teaches about media, history, and globalization. She the author of Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East, 1945-2000, and has written extensively about American perceptions of the Middle East, including in the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Nation, and the Journal of American History. Her current research focuses on Christian evangelical views of global relations.

Timothy Meagher pursued his graduate studies in American history at the University of Chicago and Brown University, receiving a Ph.D. from the latter in 1982. He now teaches courses in American immigration and ethnic history and Irish American history at Catholic University and is Curator of American Catholic History Collections there. He was the University's Director of the Center for Irish Studies for four years. He previously worked in the Division of Public Program at the National Endowment for the Humanities, where he directed the National Conversation on American Pluralism and Identity program. He has edited two collections of essays, From Paddy to Studs: Irish American Communities at the Turn of the Century (1986), and with Ronald Bayor, The New York Irish (1996). The latter won the James Donnelly prize for the best book in Irish or Irish American history presented by the American Conference for Irish Studies. He has recently published Inventing Irish America: Generation, Class and Ethnic Identity in a New England City. Inventing Irish America also won the Donnelly prize. He is currently writing a Guide to Irish American History for Columbia University press. Though he has focused largely on Irish American history, he has also written and spoken on such subjects as stereotypes of Italian Americans in American popular culture and American racial and ethnic relations in contemporary America.

Timothy A. Nosal is a professional development and employment educational specialists for Manassas National Battlefield Park in Manassas, Virginia. From 2000-2002 he worked as an associate technology consultant in Illinois where he was technology and social studies consultant and coordinator for three regional schools. He also serves as a Public Affairs Officer for the Naval reserves. Nosal holds a B.A. and M.A. in history and a M.Ed. with a concentration in educational studies with certification in history.

Michael O'Malley received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988. He taught at New York University and at Vassar College before coming to GMU in 1994. His specialty is 19th and 20th century cultural history, His dissertation was published as Keeping Watch: A History of American Time. He has additional publications on the history of timekeeping technology, the evolution of movie narrative, the practice of digital history and on the history of ideas about money and value. He is at work on a book about the history of American money. Other research interests include the history of the corporation and the history of recorded sound. He has also worked extensively in new media and history.

Carla L. Peterson is a professor in the department of English at the University of Maryland, and affiliate faculty of the Women's Studies and American Studies departments as well as the Afro-American Studies Program. She is the author of “Doers of the Word”: African-American Women Speakers and Writers in the North (1830-1880). Peterson has also published numerous essays on nineteenth-century African-American literature and literary history. Her current project, Family History in Public Places, is a social and cultural history of African-American life in nineteenth-century New York City as seen through the lens of family history.

Adam Rothman teaches history at Georgetown University. He specializes in the history of the United States, slavery, and the Atlantic World in the 19th century. He is the author of Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South (Harvard 2005) as well as other essays and reviews. He received his B.A. at Yale and his Ph.D. at Columbia.

Tom Scheinfeldt is Managing Director of the September 11 Digital Archive and a Fellow of CHNM at GMU. He received his B.A. from Harvard and M.A. from Oxford, where he is currently finishing his doctorate in Modern History. His doctoral thesis examines the public role of science history in the inter-war period. He has presented the results of his research to numerous scholarly bodies, including the Royal Society of London, the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science, the History of Science Society, and the British Society for the History of Science. He has lectured before audiences at the Smithsonian Institution and worked on exhibitions at the National Museum of American History, the Library of Congress, the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, and throughout the State of Colorado.

Zachary Schrag received his BA from Harvard University and his PhD from Columbia University. A specialist in 20th-century cities, technology, and public policy, he has published articles in Technology and Culture, Washington History, and the Journal of Urban History. In 2003, he was awarded the John Reps Prize for the best dissertation in the history of city and regional planning completed in the previous two years. His book, The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro, will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2006. Schrag has taught full time at Baruch College, City University of New York, and at Columbia University. In 2004 he joined the George Mason University faculty as assistant professor of history.

Kelly Schrum (See above.)

Jeffrey C. Stewart received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1979. He came to GMU in 1985 after teaching at University of California, Los Angeles and Scripps College. He has also served as Director of Research at the Anacostia Museum, Smithsonian Institution. He is the author of The Critical Temper of Alain Locke (1982), To Color America: The Portraits of Winold Reiss (1989) and Race Contacts and Interracial Relations (1992). He is currently writing a biography of Alain Locke, a leading literary critic and philosopher of the Harlem Renaissance. His teaching interests include: museum studies, comparative slavery, American culture in the 1920s and 1930s, and the history of American thought.

Robert K. Sutton is the superintendent of the Manassas National Battlefield Park in Manassas, Virginia. Since 1991 he has taught as an adjunct professor at GMU in the Department of History and Art History. He has also served as assistant superintendent for the National Capitol Park—East, as an assistant professor at Arizona State University, and as a historian for Independence National Historic Park. He is author of Americans Interpret the Parthenon: Greek Revival Architecture and the Westward Movement (University Press of Colorado, 1992), co-author of Majestic in His Wrath: A Pictorial Life of Federick Douglass (The Smithsonian Press, 1995) and editor of Rally on the High Ground: National Park Service Symposium on the Civil War (Eastern National, 2001). Sutton received his Ph.D. from Washington State University, his M.A. in history from Portland State University, and his B.A. from Pasadena College in theology.

Rosemarie Zagarri received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 1984. The author of The Politics of Size: Representation in the United States, 1776-1850 (1987) and A Woman's Dilemma: Mercy Otis Warren and the American Revolution (1995); she is also the editor of David Humphreys' Life of General Washington with George Washington's “Remarks” (1991). She has published articles in The Journal of American History, The William and Mary Quarterly, American Quarterly, and Reviews in American History . In the spring of 1993, the Fulbright Commission appointed her Thomas Jefferson Chair in American Studies at the University of Amsterdam. In 1997-98, she received a research Fellowship for College Teachers from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is currently working on a project dealing with gender and the first political parties.


Images from the Library of Congress