Education has been a major part of The HistoryMakers since its inception. The HistoryMakers has conducted institutes, held public programs, created curriculums and produced documentaries all in the name of education. Please read below to learn more about The HistoryMakers education initiatives.



We are delighted that you are considering coming to Chicago to participate in The HistoryMakers’ 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on African American Political History: From Reconstruction to the Present. Our Institute is designed to enhance the teaching, study, and understanding of African American history and culture. African American politics is an overlooked and frequently misunderstood part of the black experience. This Institute will be an intensive program for middle and high school teachers who are serious about learning and professional development.

Given the recent debate on the place of race, class and culture in contemporary African American life, The HistoryMakers 2012 NEH Summer Institute for Teachers will address issues that are as timely as they are relevant. This Institute is not merely about reclaiming a useable past; it seeks to refocus our understanding of the African American experience through the prism of issues and concerns that are both 400 years old and as relevant as today's on-line newspaper.


African American history has traditionally been taught through oral history methodologies, which consist of collecting first-person narratives to gather untold stories. One of the challenges to educators has been gaining access to these oral history records and successfully utilizing them in the classroom. As learning becomes increasingly interactive, being skilled and comfortable with digital technology, video, and web-based applications is no longer a luxury, but a requirement. Digital access to oral history interviews represents one of the most exciting pedagogical developments in recent years. The HistoryMakers stands poised as the preeminent institution to introduce an immense collection of first-person oral history interviews into the 21st century classroom with its existing collection of over 2,000 interviews, including more than 8,000 hours of first person narratives. The Institute will incorporate The HistoryMakers website ( and The HistoryMakers unique searchable digital archive of 300 interviews (900 hours of videotaped testimony) into the Institute’s curriculum. Each week of the Institute will require participant interaction with the oral history interviews as primary sources using The HistoryMakers’ digital archive.

The Institute will:

1) select twenty-five Summer Scholars from a pool of middle and high school teachers through a competitive, national application process;

2) bring Summer Scholars to Chicago for a month-long immersion program, Sunday, July 8, 2012 to Friday, August 3, 2012, exposing them to the nation’s leading scholars of African American politics and culture and the rich resources of The HistoryMakers’ digital archive and website (;

3) introduce participants to other primary materials and holdings at Chicago’s leading historical institutions through field trips and research outings;

4) teach participants to effectively incorporate oral history into their curriculum;

5) assist Institute Summer Scholars in developing curriculum for use in their classrooms and disseminate this plan to other teachers; and

6) prepare and encourage all Institute Summer Scholars to hold “Teacher teach the Teacher” sessions where they can serve as master teachers in their communities.

The rigorous intellectual experience will challenge Institute Summer Scholars to broaden their knowledge base as well as rekindle their own passion for learning.

The Institute will examine the political development of African Americans from Reconstruction to the election of President Barack Obama through four major eras:

1) African American Politics from Reconstruction to the First World War (1865-1917);

2) African American Politics through Two World Wars and Its Aftermath (1917-1954);

3) Black Freedom Movement (1954-1975); and

4) Post-Civil Rights and the New Generation of Black Politics (1970 to present).

Each week will be divided into more specific topics as outlined in Institute Schedule. The 2012 Institute will be co-directed by Julieanna Richardson, noted oral historian and Founder and Executive Director of The HistoryMakers, and Dr. Ashley Howard, Ph.D. in African American history.

What Makes This Institute Unique

To enhance scholarly pursuits, the Institute will include two innovative projects designed to expand participants’ primary research experience and oral history interviewing skills. These projects will encourage each Summer Scholar to synthesize their studies while merging knowledge sets and newly acquired classroom resources. By Monday, May 28, 2012, participants will be required to select a relevant research topic. Participants will be assigned to one of four groups based on the topics chosen.

At that time, Summer Scholars will also be provided access to the Institute’s website with links to all partner institutions’ websites, biographies and contact information for the Institute Visiting Faculty, information about Institute staff, a complete Institute schedule, required and recommended readings, The HistoryMakers digital archive, an Edmodo forum section for all participants to make introductions and start discussions, and information about travel to and within the City of Chicago. The website will be maintained following the conclusion of the Institute so that all information and activities, including the posting of the teachers’ final projects, will remain accessible.

At the end of the Institute, each participant will have completed his/her own research project and turned this research into curriculum for classroom implementation. This research will be conducted using The HistoryMakers digital archive and website, and primary documents at the Institute’s partner institutions. Summer Scholars will formally present their research and share their curriculum and lesson plans with the entire group at the end of the Institute.

Oral History Training & Instruction

The Institute’s second innovative project will provide participants with oral history instruction from two notable oral historians, The HistoryMakers Founder and Executive Director, Julieanna Richardson and University of Illinois Swanlund Endowed Chair of the Center for Advanced Studies and Pulitzer Prize Award winning Professor of Journalism, Leon Dash. In the first week of the Institute, the Summer Scholars will be provided with specific readings on the history of oral history as well as background on how to conduct both subject matter and life oral history interviews.

Applicant Profile

Twenty-five Summer Scholars will be selected from across the nation. The Institute’s selection criteria will aim for a geographic mix of women and men from urban, suburban and rural areas representing school systems of all types and sizes. Priority will be given to teachers with a record of achievement and who teach American and African American history or civics, politics and government courses. Participants will be selected according to the following criteria:

1 - Commitment to teaching
2 - Experience and success in teaching
3 - Intellectual curiosity and desire to learn
4 - Ability of the teachers to serve as Master Teachers in their communities
5 - Ability of the teachers to play an active and ongoing role in the Institute’s network
6 - Ability of The HistoryMakers Summer Institute to meet the curricular needs of the applicant.

The Institute will carefully choose its applicants. The diversity of applicants’ backgrounds, type of school, level of experience, leadership, interest and background in the subject matter and geographic location will be taken into account. Selection of participants will be conducted by a panel consisting of the Institute’s Co-Project Directors, a local secondary educator, and two of the Visiting Faculty taking part in the Institute. The selection panel will follow all applicable federal, state and local guidelines and nondiscrimination statutes in making its selections.

Professional Development for Participants

The HistoryMakers is experienced in granting professional teacher certifications and will provide its Institute participants the necessary documentation for them to receive appropriate continuing education units and professional development credit (CEUs or CPDUs) from their local institutions and school districts. At the close of the Institute, participants will receive a letter and certificate indicating their successful completion. All participants will be classified during their stay as Visiting Scholars.

Summer Scholars will also leave the Institute with valuable subject matter expertise and return to their communities and school districts as “master teachers” capable of sharing the newly acquired knowledge and thereby improving the quality of local teaching.

The HistoryMakers

The HistoryMakers is a unique national, 501(c)(3) non-profit educational institution committed to preserving, developing and providing easy access to an internationally recognized, archival collection of thousands of African American video oral histories. The HistoryMakers represents the single largest archival project of its kind in the world. Since its inception in July of 1999, The HistoryMakers has made the creation of a useable educational resource its priority. It has experimented with a variety of vehicles to ensure public accessibility and educational use. The HistoryMakers educational programming has consistently provided first-class scholarly education for our nation’s teachers while demonstrating that teachers and students respond enthusiastically to the challenge of engaging the most profound ideas at the core of American history.

*Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.