The Making of America: From Colonial America through the Civil War, June 30–July 6, 2019


Denver Brunsman, Associate Professor of History, The George Washington University


This seminar, designed especially for K–8 teachers, will explore the people, ideas, and events that shaped America from the colonial era through the Civil War. Each day will focus on key primary sources and the latest historical interpretations of major historical events and periods, including the American Revolution, the US Constitution, Jacksonian America, and the Civil War. This “long” view of early American history will highlight changing (and contesting) definitions of America by a fascinating and diverse range of people.

The seminar will use Washington DC as a laboratory, with special outings to museums, monuments, and historic sites to supplement classroom lessons. In the process, seminar participants will analyze the past—and representations of the past—in ways that give meaning to the present. The goal throughout will be to provide teachers with a wealth of knowledge and resources to apply creatively in the elementary classroom.

Travel & Accommodations

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements; the Institute will reimburse up to $400 in travel expenses. Read the policy here.

George Washington University’s Mount Vernon Campus is conveniently located in the heart of Washington DC, close to three major airports, including Ronald Reagan Washington National, Washington Dulles International, and Baltimore Washington International as well as Union Station, where you can pick up the bus or train. 

Amtrak provides service directly into Washington DC, about a 30-minute cab ride from Foggy Bottom.

Workshop participants will stay in on-campus residence halls in their own rooms, but share bathrooms and common space on each floor. The university provides basic bedding and towels only. Participants should plan to bring alarm clocks, shower shoes, hangers, irons, and hair dryers. Participants should bring laptops as computer access on campus will be limited.


Meals will be served in a university cafeteria in space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.


Please be sure to review the Institute’s policies on independent school teacher participation and travel reimbursement before applying.


Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

Seminar Year: 2018-2019