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What is Historical Thinking Matters?

Historical thinking matters. Not only does it matter, it needs to be learned.

Historical Thinking Matters provides high school students with a framework that teaches them to read documents like historians. Using these "habits of mind," they will be able to interrogate historical sources and use them to form reasoned conclusions about the past. Equally important, they will become critical users of the vast historical archives on the web. Historical Thinking Matters equips students to navigate the uncharted waters of the World Wide Web. The site is the winner of the American Historical Association's 2008 James Harvey Robinson Prize for an Outstanding Teaching Aid.

How is it organized?

WHY HISTORICAL THINKING MATTERS introduces the site's approach by exploring conflicting first-hand accounts of the 1775 Lexington Green skirmish.

STUDENT INVESTIGATIONS focuses on five central topics from the post-Civil War U.S. history curriculum. Each investigation includes:

  • An introductory movie framing a question of historical debate;
  • Ten historical sources;
  • Guided questioning that fosters historical thinking skills such as sourcing, contextualization, close reading, and corroboration;
  • Text annotations and audio and video clips that provide additional commentary;
  • An assignment that asks students to respond to the investigative question by drawing on their previous engagement with the sources;
  • Directed explorations of virtual archives.

TEACHER MATERIALS offers instructors, pre-service teachers and teacher-educators classroom materials and strategies, examples of student and teacher work, and supplementary resources.

Who is the Historical Thinking Matters team?

This project brings together teams with unique credentials in education, history, cognitive psychology, and technology. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has provided generous funding for this project. Additional support has come from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

  • Roy Rosenzweig, Co-Director
    Center for History and New Media
    George Mason University
    4400 University Drive, MSN 1E7
    Fairfax, VA 22030-4444
    (703) 993-9277
  • CHNM Staff:
    • Michael O'Malley, Project Historian
    • Sharon M. Leon, Associate Director
    • Stephanie R. Hurter, Creative Lead
    • Josh Greenberg, Rikk Mulligan, Jeremy Boggs, Programmers
    • Meagan Hess, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Sam Wineburg, Co-Director
    School of Education
    Stanford University
    485 Lasuen Mall
    Stanford, CA 94305-3096
    (650) 725-4411
  • Stanford Staff:
    • Daisy Martin, Associate Director
    • Chauncey Monte-Sano, Project Associate
    • Avishag Reisman, Project Associate
    • Julie Park, Project Associate
    • Brad Fogo, Project Associate