We support teachers of American history, government and civics, believing they do the most important work in America. We help them bring the documents and debates of America’s past into the present through: document-based seminars, document collections both online and in print, and other multimedia resources. We are dedicated to making every American history, government, and civics class in America its best.
Why Primary Documents?
Primary documents present America’s story in the words of those who wrote it—America’s presidents, labor leaders, farmers, immigrants, philosophers, industrialists, politicians, workers, explorers, religious leaders, judges, soldiers; its slaveholders and abolitionists; its expansionists and isolationists; its reformers and stand-patters; its strict and broad constructionists; its hard-eyed realists and visionary utopians. When students read these documents they have direct access to the minds of those, both great and humble, who shaped our nation’s history. They can see the challenges earlier generations faced, examine their intentions, and join the great debates that guided their choices. As a teacher in our programs put it, “reading primary documents allows students to ask questions of themselves, ask questions of each other, and ultimately ask questions of history.”
Asking questions leads to conversation. Our seminars aim to be serious conversations about the enduring issues of American history and government because conversation is the best way to engage each student and deepen learning. Equally important, what a serious conversation requires of its participants – concern for the truth, listening to others, waiting one’s turn to speak, modest but assertive statements of one’s views, respect for the views of others, etc. – are, writ large, the virtues required of citizens in our republic. Each of our seminars, then, is in a sense a small republic, an example of self-government, and a vindication of the principles of liberty and equality upon which our way of life rests.
Why Do We Support Teachers and Students?
At its best, an American history, government or civics class—wherever it occurs—reenacts the Founding of the Republic and thereby preserves it. It strengthens the American republic by inculcating the manners, understanding, and inclinations self-governing citizens require.
We are dedicated to making every American history and government class in America its best.
TeachingAmericanHistory.org is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University. The Ashbrook Center is an independent, non-partisan non-profit, the mission of which is to restore and strengthen the capacities of the American people for constitutional self-government. To fulfill this mission, Ashbrook offers educational programs for students, teachers, and citizens.
To this end, TAH.org sponsors a variety of resources, courses, and programs to help classroom teachers improve their knowledge of American history, government, civics, and ideas through the use of primary documents. TAH.org and Ashbrook programs and courses are unique in that they are all rooted in primary documents only, and are created and conducted by university scholars who are experts in their respective fields. Our faculty are full-time instructors at Ashland University and from universities and colleges across the country.
Our goal is to equip teachers with the content knowledge and resources through experiences with primary documents in order that they can more effectively teach their students.