A Living Legacy

(from left): Jack Hylan, Julia Wood, Candice Roland and Leah Tams

History lurks just under the surface at the University of Mary Washington. Every brick, every tree, every bench on Campus Walk could tell a story from the university’s 106-year history. A group of UMW students hears echoes of those stories – and has found their place in them – thanks to an innovative history course. Century America is a small, private, online course, taught by Professors Jeffrey McClurken from UMW and Ellen Holmes Pearson from the University of North Carolina Asheville, who instruct students from nine different public liberal arts colleges. The course, funded by the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) and the Teagle Foundation, invites each participating school to discover what life was like at their institution 100 years ago and to share those stories as part of a digital exhibition. “I already loved Mary Washington history, but it has given me a greater appreciation for the school now that I have an understanding of its legacy and this whole … [Read more...]

Digital Native

Caitlin Murphy '12 works at PBS in Washington, D.C.

Caitlin Murphy ’12 knew she was prepared for a job that combined her history and digital studies degrees and thought a position at PBS would be the perfect fit. Not long after she submitted her application, Murphy got a call from the internationally renowned public broadcasting network. They had reviewed her resume and delved into her online portfolio, which she developed while a student at the University of Mary Washington, and it wasn’t long before she had the job. “When I applied for the position, they said my online portfolio was one of the main reasons they had contacted me,” Murphy said. “It really helped me get a foot in the door. I don’t think I would have gotten called if I hadn’t had the portfolio I did.” Murphy is a program associate at the PBS headquarters just outside Washington, D.C. She screens upcoming programs, like “Masterpiece Theatre” or “Foyle’s War,” to make sure they meet PBS’ standards. The position requires an eye for detail and the ability to … [Read more...]

Bringing History to Life

Carrie Schlupp '13 examines James Monroe's apron as part of the "World of James Monroe" history course.

The fifth president of the United States owned an apron, kept two dueling pistols and wrote thousands of letters during his life. University of Mary Washington students are experiencing a rare in-depth look at James Monroe’s life firsthand through the objects that were most important to him. “The World of James Monroe” history course, offered for the first time this semester, provides insight into the late 1700s and early 1800s in an innovative way. “I am endlessly fascinated by historical artifacts, and this course has shown me how much we can learn from them and what kind of new questions they can raise for historians,” said senior Leah Tams, one of 22 students in the class. The course contextualizes objects and documents owned and written by James Monroe and examines the social norms of the early Republic through polite culture, daily life, and expansion. Jarod Kearney, the curator for the James Monroe Museum, regularly brings artifacts from the museum to the class … [Read more...]

History Lessons

Jeff McClurken, associate professor and department chair of history and American studies, is an expert on American history, the Civil War and digital history. He makes connections between the old and the new and blends history and technology in his teaching.

Students rule in Jeffrey McClurken’s history classes. His creative and tech-savvy charges have a say in everything from the syllabus to assignments and provide insight on the new and innovative courses taught by the associate professor and chair in the Department of History and American Studies. McClurken, an expert in Civil War history and a sought-after presenter on digital learning, says the experience is just as beneficial for him as it is for the students. “I am inspired by and driven by those interactions with students,” said McClurken. That’s just what happened in a seminar two years ago. When students questioned the technology behind communications and how the Internet affects the way they think and learn, McClurken put them to work designing a History of the Information Age course. They co-wrote the course syllabus with McClurken, even providing input on assignments and topic areas to cover. “We not only learned the content, we also learned how to create … [Read more...]

History in the Making

Bruce O'Brien 4

Some might say Professor of History Bruce O’Brien is stuck in the Middle Ages – he might thank you for the compliment in Old English. O’Brien is leading an international collaborative effort called the Early English Laws Project, which aims to re-edit and translate all 150 of the early English laws issued between 600 to 1225 and make them accessible to the public through an online database. In light of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the project takes a new resonance. “This will make early law codes accessible to anyone,” he said, noting that laws like the Magna Carta have influenced some of the most important legal documents in history, including the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. O’Brien is the academic lead of the project, a collaboration between the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London and the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London. The initial launch of the project in January … [Read more...]