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May 17, 2002

CW, W&M team up to offer American history programs

Colonial Williamsburg and the College of William and Mary have combined their resources to administer the first two programs offered by the new “National Institute of American History and Democracy,” a joint educational initiative designed to offer high school, college and graduate-level students in-depth opportunities to study early American history.

The first program, the “Pre-Collegiate Summer Program in Early American History” for high school juniors, seniors and 2002 graduates, is July 1–27. Students will earn four hours of college credit at William and Mary for a freshman-level course in early American history. “The program includes classroom study, museum field trips and internships at area museums including Colonial Williams-burg,” said Carl Lounsbury, a Colonial Williamsburg architectural historian.

A major feature of the program will be classes conducted on-site at historic sites throughout the Tidewater area. Readings and classroom work at the college will set the stage for the site visits by providing essential background on the wider context of American colonial development. Interactions with interpreters, behind-the-scene tours with curators and archaeologists, and discussions with historians and other scholars will help immerse the students in colonial and revolutionary America. “We’re expecting about 24 students this summer from around the country,” Lounsbury said.

The application deadline for this program is May 31. Admission decisions will be announced by June 5. Full and partial scholarships are available. For more information on this program, call 221-7652 or visit

The second partnership program begins this fall and is offered to both undergraduate and graduate students at the college and will expand in following years to include students from other universities and colleges. “The new program in ‘Early American History, Material Culture and Museums’ is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the colonial period and will include courses already taught at William and Mary in history, American studies and anthropology but expand to feature new courses taught by Colonial Williamsburg staff from the collections, research and education departments,” Lounsbury explained.

He will teach a course in early American architecture this fall and next spring Cary Carson, Colonial Williamsburg’s vice president of research, will teach a course on Williamsburg. In an effort to have students learn the practical aspects of historical research, a number of summer field schools will be featured in this program.

“We’ve offered an archaeology field school for years, but we will expand the work that Marley Brown has done to include fieldwork in architectural analysis and recording and, in the future, training in curatorial methods. We also are asking students to serve internships in architecture, research, finance, CW Productions or other areas of the museum that may pique their interest,” Lounsbury said. “We want the students to see the practical side of museums and historical research, and develop an understanding of how professionals practice their craft.”

An added benefit of this program is that Rhys Isaac, a Pulitzer Prize winner, will direct a course this fall on how history is disseminated in books, film, museums and other media. Another course will focus on how scholars analyze historical information gained from objects as well as documents. “The goal of both of these programs is to encourage students to focus on the objects of history and what those objects tell us about history,” Lounsbury said. For more information on this program, call 221-7652.

Lounsbury and his colleagues, including the director of the program—William and Mary’s Dr. James Whittenburg, University Professor for Teaching Excellence, Lyon G. Tyler Department of History—are looking forward to seeing the program come to fruition. “It’s been in the works for nearly two years and we’re excited about its upcoming inaugural year,” said Lounsbury.

Media Contact:
Lorraine Brooks
(757) 220-7280