Teaching and Learning History - 092016

Partners in History

About the George Washington Papers:  "The Papers of George Washington, a grant-funded project, was established in 1968 at the University of Virginia, under the joint auspices of the University and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union, to publish a comprehensive edition of Washington’s correspondence.

Today there are copies of over 135,000 Washington documents in the project’s document room. This is one of the richest collections of American historical manuscripts extant. There is almost no facet of research on life and enterprise in the late colonial and early national periods that will not be enhanced by material from these documents. The publication of Washington’s papers will make this source material available not only to scholars but to all Americans interested in the founding of their nation."

Our Summer with George
Tammara Purdin and Jennifer Jaso
Lamarque Elementary School and Sarasota Middle School
Sarasota, FL

Why would two teachers from Sarasota, Florida want to work at the Washington Papers? It’s simple — we not only possess a passion for teaching history, but we have a desire to continue our own learning.

Every school year, we strive to cultivate complex thinkers and well-informed, dynamic participants in today’s society. While our instructional content may not solely focus on U.S. history, we always find a way to integrate George Washington. By the end of the first week of school, our students have little doubt about our enthusiasm for George. This interest soon sparked an idea, which in turn led to an amazing opportunity. On June 28, we left our families and homes for what would be six weeks in Charlottesville, Virginia to work at the Washington Papers.

Tammara’s assignment included editing Washington's Financial Ledger B. Initially, this project’s goal was to simply transcribe the ledger. However, her part in this project later included editing the transcribed ledgers so as to translate them into modern language. Tammara’s final task focused on creating a taxonomy for easy accessibility when the website becomes available.

Jennifer’s first task was to assist with the Day-By-Day Project. Its goal is to develop an online resource that chronicles every day of Washington’s life. Jennifer’s responsibilities included editing and posting entries to the project’s website. When she completed that project, she spent her last three weeks examining people, places, and events in Washington's Barbados diary.

Although we had worked with primary documents in previous research experiences and doctoral work, we still had much to learn in the world of documentary editing. This journey gave us the opportunity to take part in the process of archiving and curating documents, and provided an even deeper connection to the founding fathers as we engaged in ongoing efforts to make their lives more accessible.

Each person working at the Washington Papers is qualified, professional, and personable and the experience that they provided was truly enriching.
Though the portrait of George Washington hanging in both our classrooms has always been significant, it now symbolizes a deeper connection to history through our experience at the University of Virginia and the Washington Papers.
Tammara Purdin teaches at Lamarque Elementary School, and Jennifer Jaso teaches at Sarasota Middle School.


About NCHE

The National Council for History Education promotes historical literacy by creating opportunities for teachers and students to benefit from more history, better taught.