Past Teachers Institutes
The Teachers Institute is open to all Virginia public and private elementary and secondary school teachers. The Virginia Historical Society selects teachers who have demonstrated academic and teaching success, intellectual curiosity, creativity, and appreciation for scholarship. Teachers who have attended previous Teachers Institutes at the Society can repeat, but additional consideration is given to those who have not attended in the past. Participants are selected by members of the Historical Society's teacher advisory board.
In cooperation with the University of Richmond, the Virginia Historical Society presented a program for Virginia teachers that will broaden and deepen their knowledge of Virginia history—through classroom work, discussion, writing, and hands-on experience in its outstanding exhibition galleries. The topic of the Virginia Historical Society's annual E. Claiborne Robins, Jr., Teachers Institute was The Story of Virginia, an American Experience. The institute was held from July 11–15 and July 25–29, 2011.
This week-long session provided an overview of the rich history of Virginia, from its native inhabitants through the twentieth century, and followed the Standards of Learning for Virginia Studies. Topics included: colonization and conflict, the American Revolution, western expansion, the Civil War, postwar Virginia, and the twentieth century. Educators returned to their classrooms with new knowledge and fresh approaches to bring the past alive for their students.
On February 22, 1960, thirty-four Virginia Union University students staged a sit-in to protest segregation in the restaurants of Thalhimers Department Store. In recognition of the 50th anniversary of this event, the topic of the Virginia Historical Society's annual E. Claiborne Robins, Jr., Teachers Institute was The Civil Rights Movement in Virginia. The Institute was held at the VHS from July 12–16, 2010.
Virginia's role in the civil rights movement has often been overshadowed by the more dramatic events that occurred in the Deep South. However, Virginia played a prominent role in the struggle for equal access to public accommodations, the extension of voting rights, and the desegregation of public schools. In 1946, Gloucester County's Irene Morgan brought the lawsuit that desegregated interstate bus travel. In 1951, students from Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville walked out of class to protest unequal educational facilities. Their case became one of five that was incorporated into the landmark 1954 decision, Brown v. Board of Education. Southern juries were desegregated in 1963 as a result of Johnson v. Virginia, and the decision in the case of Caroline County's Mildred and Richard Loving overturned state prohibitions on interracial marriage across the nation. The institute explored these and other topics.
On July 13–17, the VHS held the 2009 E. Claiborne Robins, Jr., Teachers Institute, "The Brown Decision in Virginia." Named in honor of the former board chairman of the VHS, the institute explored segregated education in Virginia and traced the efforts of African Americans who fought for quality schools in the years before Brown. It examined Brown and both efforts to implement and resist the decision in Virginia. Finally, it looked at the legacy of Brown. Participants interacted with historians and educators and took part in lectures, discussions, and workshops and went on field trips to Farmville and the state capitol. They worked with VHS staff to explore teaching strategies and the society's resources.
Teachers participating in the 2008 Institute enjoyed lectures, seminars, discussions, tours, and other activities.
On July 7–11, the VHS held the 2008 E. Claiborne Robins, Jr., Teachers Institute, "Before Jamestown." Named in honor of the former board chairman of the VHS, this program helped history and social studies educators with the teaching of ancient history of the Americas and, in particular, prehistoric Virginia. Leading archaeologists, anthropologists, ethnologists, and linguists examined the Native American culture with daily lectures, discussions, field trips, and readings. With the assistance of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, this program immersed a group of selected teachers in an intensive one-week study of Native American culture before the contact with European powers. The institute took a multi-disciplinary approach by exploring Native American societies through the expertise of leading historians, archaeologists, linguists, ethnologists, and anthropologists.
"Jamestown, Québec, Santa Fe: Three North American Beginnings" took place at the VHS July 9–13, 2007. The institute was held in conjunction with a major exhibition organized by the VHS and co-organized by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and made possible with the generous support of LandAmerica, the Robins Foundation, Jamestown 2007, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The institute took a multicultural approach to the virtually simultaneous introduction of English, French, and Spanish cultures into North America. It explored the first permanent English settlement in 1607, the first permanent French settlement in 1608, and the chartering of the first villa in New Mexico in 1609. Participants interacted with leading historians, archaeologists, and ethnologists in lectures and discussions. They also worked with the VHS staff to explore teaching strategies and develop lesson plans.
"Virginians at Work" was held at the VHS June 19–23, 2006. The program immersed a group teachers in an intensive study of the commonwealth's economic transformation over the past four centuries by focusing on how Virginians earned (and earn) a living. The program examined topics from the creation of a colonial, tobacco-based society through the emergence of a global, service economy. The institute also explored issues related to the economy, such as the nature of labor, demographic change, transportation, and technological innovation. Participants had the opportunity to interact with leading historians and economists in lectures and discussions. They worked with the VHS staff and representatives from the Virginia Council on Economic Education to explore teaching strategies and develop lesson plans.
"Founding Fathers: Virginia, the Revolution, and the Constitution" was held at the VHS July 5–15, 2005. The program immersed eighteen teachers in an intensive study of Virginia's
Revolutionary-era leadership and the commonwealth's unique role in the founding of the American nation. The program examined topics from the French and Indian War through the ratification of the Constitution. Participants interacted with leading historians through lectures, discussions, field trips, and readings. Using the extensive collections of the Virginia Historical Society, participants developed primary-source-based lesson plans.
"Slavery in Virginia" was held at the Virginia Historical Society July 5–16, 2004. The program
immersed fifteen teachers in an intensive study of the origins of slavery in North America, slavery and religion,
the slave family, slave narratives, urban slavery, slave revolts, the relationship between slaves and slaveholders,
the archaeology of slavery, and the relationship of free African Americans to those in bondage. The Institute was
led by Dr. Philip J. Schwarz, emeritus professor of history at Virginia
Commonwealth University and author of Twice Condemned: Slaves & the Criminal Laws of Virginia, 1705–1865.
Teachers participating in the 2003 Institute studied Virginia's relationship with the American West
"Beyond Lewis & Clark: Virginia Experiences the West" took place July 7–11, 2003.
Eighteen teachers assembled at the
VHS to study Virginia's relationship with the American West, including exploration, cultural identity, family
migration, and conflicting images of the frontier. The Institute coincided with the Society's major exhibition, Beyond
Lewis & Clark: The Army Explores the West. Professor Kathyrn Fuller-Seeley of Virginia Commonwealth University served as the lead faculty
member. Teachers worked closely with Dr. Fuller-Seeley, VHS professional staff, and guest faculty in lectures, seminar discussions,
and individual research projects.
Teachers participating in the 2002 Institute enjoyed lectures, seminars,
and other activities.
"Virginia Women: From Private Sphere to Public Life" took place July 8–12, 2002. Twenty teachers assembled at the
VHS to study various topics related to the history of Virginia
women. Lectures, seminar discussions, and individual research projects addressed the family lives of both slave and free women,
the ideology of separate spheres, women's responses
to the Civil War, women in the New South, and the rise of feminism.
Teachers worked closely with lead faculty member Professor Kathryn Fuller-Seeley of Virginia Commonwealth
University, VHS professional staff, and guest faculty. In addition to the week of workshops and activities,
teachers also developed primary-source-based
lesson plans using resources from the VHS library and manuscript collections.
• Bibliography and Websites (compiled by participants)