History (and Resources) Matters

Since the seventh grade I was convinced that I had decided on my dream career. I was going to be a history teacher. Wouldn’t you know that some people discouraged me from it? In high school I was told that I was too shy, I wouldn’t be paid enough, and that kids were”too bad” these days. Despite, some of society’s current hangups about teachers I thought it was one of the most noble professions and I still do. My junior year of college I changed my mind about pursuing secondary education as a minor because I had some serious problems with my college’s curriculum and advising. By senior year I was intern at Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and I was in love with this new thing called “museum education”. Now, here I am.

In my opinion, public history is very much about education and many times that means reaching teachers and students. More museums are hoping to bridge the gap between schools and their institutions. Museums aren’t the only ones trying to build communities that involve historical inquiry and students of all ages. The web is fully of many things and some of those “things” can be extremely profitable to teaching history in and outside the classroom. Daniel L. Cohen and Roy Rosenweig call the collection of history-based websites online “the history web”.


One of my favorite history based websites is History Matters:the US Survey Course on the Web. History Matters is a resource website for teachers and students (high school and college). It was created in 1998 by Pennee Bender, Joshua Brown, Roy Rosenzweig (imagine that) and is part of the George Mason University website. The website is a great example of useful materials including: 1,000 primary resources, syllabi, forums, reviewed and annotated history websites, and much more. Two of my favorite features of History Matters is their Digital Blackboard and Students as Historians sections. Digital Blackboard is a listing of links and descriptions of web-based assignments for students. It includes topics from Immigration to Watergate. Students as Historians is a resource list of students history projects. Some of the projects are student articles online or are projects that involve making informational websites. While the website isn’t particularly visually intriguing but it is straightforward and updated (something that isn’t always remembered). Any history teacher, professor, or museum educator can find something of value from this website.


2 thoughts on “History (and Resources) Matters

  1. I’m curious if you think the format — as an online History textbook — scares away certain audiences that might otherwise be served by the material? You make the point that the material is still updated, but do you think an online textbook created today would take the same form as History Matters? Are we beholden to change? Or are there some universals developing on the web?

    • I never really thought of it as an online history book maybe because History Matters doesn’t have any narratives to explain or connect documents and other material. As for online history textbooks, one of the few that I’m familiar with is more of a companion to the print book. The site that I know from being a teacher assistant does offer more study material but otherwise it isn’t’ much different than a summarized version of the book. That site (the name escapes me right now) is fairly new. I don’t think there are drastically different and interactive online history textbooks out there, I could be wrong. I would imagine that for many teachers and college professors they would be a bit slow to using that kind of resource. Then again online textbooks might be more cost effiecent and engaging so that could be a selling point. I’m rambling haha.

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