Past Events & Activities

Primary Sources


Lesson Plans

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Meet our partners
Staff/Management Plan
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About SALEM in History

Project Design and Activities
Core Themes
Topics within Themes
The Centrality and Challenges of Learning from Primary Sources

Schedule of Activities

Participation Requirements and Benefits
Staff / Management Plan


SALEM in History: The Science and Art of Learning from Evidence and Materials in History is a content-based, professional development program open to all elementary, middle and high school teachers of American history in the Salem Public School district. As a joint effort of the Salem Public Schools, Salem State College, the Peabody Essex Museum and the National Park Service, SALEM in History aims to increase the depth, breadth and quality of teachers' knowledge and understanding of United States history, and provide teachers with the training, materials and support necessary to apply this new knowledge and understanding in their classrooms. All project activities make central use of the rich primary source material available in partner collections and local archives, and are tied to a series of core themes that encourage teachers to see an historical narrative and sequential pattern in the United States' past. SALEM in History's unique structure and focus on primary sources makes central the connection between teachers' historical literacy (both content knowledge and source analysis skills) and that of their students. SALEM in History's activities wed the skills of doing history to the skills of teaching history, thereby providing a solid foundation for teachers to create rigorous, innovative, dynamic primary source-based classroom lessons based on solid scholarship which help improve their students' historical critical thinking skills. SALEM in History is funded by a three-year Teaching American History grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

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There are three main goals of SALEM in History. Each goal is met by a specific key component of the project. Additional project activities support and reinforce the key components. A discussion about the critical links between goals 1 and 2 appears at the end of this section.

GOAL ONE: Increase teachers' American history content knowledge. SALEM in History will provide graduate training for all SPS American history teachers. The project will concentrate on building teachers' knowledge and ability to teach in six core themes.

KEY COMPONENT: Content Sessions. Content sessions are the foundation upon which all SALEM in History activities rest. Content sessions are led primarily by history faculty at Salem State College with periodic visits from outside scholars. In each of these rigorous, graduate-level, seminar-style sessions participants and scholars explore a specific topic in American history, tied to a core theme. Sessions are devoted to both in-depth discussions of canonical and/or recent scholarly work in the field, and analysis of primary sources in relation to the assigned reading. By exploring sources and existing interpretations in tandem, content sessions are designed to increase not only participants' understanding of the past, but their understanding of the complex process of creating historical knowledge as well. Content sessions improve participant's content knowledge and gain confidence in their abilities as historians.

GOAL TWO: Help teachers apply new knowledge to the classroom. SALEM in History activities will provide teachers with the training, skills, materials and support necessary to create innovative primary source-based classroom lessons, based on solid historical scholarship, which tie local events to national themes and topics, meet the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework standards, enliven classroom teaching, and improve students' historical literacy.

KEY COMPONENT: Follow Up Sessions. Follow-up sessions, led by SALEM in History project staff and Master Teachers, focus on helping teachers connect new knowledge from content sessions to their classroom teaching. In these sessions participants make explicit links between content session material and grade-specific curriculum frameworks (for both content and skills/concepts), examine primary sources in depth, and devote time to developing strategies for teaching critical historical content and skills in the classroom, using primary sources. Activities include brainstorming sessions, workshops on accessing, analyzing and interpreting primary sources, and training and practice in creating primary source-based classroom activities and lessons utilizing an inquiry-based approach. Participants have multiple opportunities to exchange ideas and strategies with one another.

GOAL THREE: Disseminate Project Results. SALEM in History is dedicated to sharing its program methods, materials, and findings through a variety of media and to ensuring the project's impact lasts beyond the official end date of the original grant.

KEY COMPONENTS: Project Website and Master Teachers. The SALEM in History website provides current participants and teachers from around the world with information about project activities and access to project materials. In addition it offers a point of entry for participating and non-participating teachers alike into the vast realm of web-based resources available for history teachers interested in using primary sources to teach. Master Teachers, chosen from among the ranks of SALEM in History alumni for their distinguished classroom teaching, and supported by SALEM in History staff, provide in-house support for fellow Salem Public School teachers. Both the website and the Master Teachers will be able to offer support and resources for Salem Public School teachers after the official end of SALEM in History, thereby increasing the sustainability of the project.

Historical Literacy and The Integration of Goals 1 and 2
In the Salem Public Schools, teachers of history are charged with teaching both content and skills at all educational levels of the educational ladder, from elementary school to high school. Therefore teachers must be able to successfully link content and sources (and consider the relationship between the two) in order to create successful classroom activities that encourage their students to do the same. We believe that this can happen only when teachers develop a deep understanding about the craft of history (how historians construct knowledge about the past) as well as the facts of history (what other historians have written about the past). With this dual set of skills and understandings, teachers are able to effectively teach both of these core elements of historical literacy.

As a result, the two main goals of SALEM in History, and thus, their related components-content sessions and follow-up sessions-are intrinsically linked and integrated; the connection between them is authentic and they reinforce one another. The work that takes place in the content sessions provides the solid foundation needed to explore new ways to teach critical content knowledge by way of primary sources, and the work that takes place in the follow-up sessions-how to create classroom activities and lessons to improve students' historical literacy-is informed by the knowledge, understandings and skills developed in the content sessions.

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All SALEM in History activities relate to six core themes, chosen collaboratively by the partners, and intended to encourage participants to see an historical narrative and sequential pattern in American history. The core themes are:

The United States in the World-American Foreign Relations
This theme's focus on American foreign relations allows participants to increase their content knowledge of American diplomatic and military history. By discussing the role of the United States in the world, we are able to better understand issues surrounding expansion and its effects both positive and negative, on the nation's values, institutions and history. This topic includes American foreign relations from the revolutionary period through the age of expansion, the world wars, and the Cold War, and also explores the role of the United States in regional and post- colonial conflicts.

American Political Thought-The Constitution and American Democratic Institutions
This theme incorporates both an overview of American constitutional history and an opportunity to study important developments and events in greater detail. Participants learn about the historical context of the Constitutional Convention and subsequent changes to the Constitution, important court cases, and the Massachusetts reaction to these developments. We will also examine the formation and operation of American political parties by discussing important campaigns, issues and structural changes.

Social Changes and Social Reform
Throughout American history, different groups of people, whether organized by race, class, gender, age, profession, or other criteria, have worked to effect change in the American economy, politics, and society. These movements range from the Pennsylvania farmers in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, to antebellum reformers such as abolitionists and women's rights activists, to the modern civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Through study of this theme, we are able to learn the historic context of these movements, the perspectives of different groups of participants and opponents, and the reasons for success or failure.

Immigration and Migration-Cultural Interaction and the Peopling of America
This theme addresses American diversity by examining internal and external migrations throughout the history of the continent and the nation. Participants will learn about the historical context and causes of these movements of people, from the Paleolithic era to the present, reactions to these movements, and how immigrant and migrant groups have adapted to, changed, and enriched American society and culture.

An Industrious People-American Economic History
American economic history, broadly conceived, is essential to understanding not just the workings of today's economy but the important changes over time in American politics, society, and culture. "An Industrious People" allows participants to discuss the historic context of economic developments, the economic factors involved in different political and social issues, and the ways Americans have reacted, adapted to, or protested these developments.

Salem as Place-Local History in a National Context
There are few, if any, better places in the country to study American history than the North Shore of Boston. Here in Salem we are blessed with an incredible abundance of historical sources, and by studying this theme we will become more able to use these local materials (buildings, documents, paintings, images, literature, ships, archeology, and more) to teach national themes. While we will use local materials when examining the other content themes as well, this theme will allow for a more systematic and detailed examination of Salem's history.

During each cycle participants explore four of the six themes very broadly, for each content session (and its related follow-up session) focuses on a specific topic within a given theme.

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Topics Within Themes

Project staff have carefully chosen each of the specific topics explored within a given theme to ensure a direct correlation to the existing curriculum framework standards for each group of participating teachers (elementary, middle school and high school). Over the course of one SALEM in History cycle, then, a participating teacher will be exposed to readings, primary sources and discussions related to at least four topics he or she is charged with teaching. This structure provides teachers with an opportunity to identify, discuss and explore key throughlines in American history and contextualize grade-specific topics. It also helps foster a sense of district-wide coherence among teachers of American history.

Topic selection is also correlated (wherever possible) with availability of primary sources in our partners' collections.

As an example, themes and topics for the 2004-2005 cycle are listed here:

Fall: The Peopling of America: Migration and Immigration

  1. People of the First Light: Wampanoag History
  2. The Vanishing Indian: Removal, Relocation, Reservations and Representation in the 19th century
  3. The Great Migration: African Americans and the Growth of the Urban North

Spring: America in the World: American Foreign Relations

  1. The Long Road to Lexington: Networks of Resistance in colonial Massachusetts
  2. They Burned the White House?: What was the War of 1812 all about?
  3. Into the Quagmire: Vietnam

Summer: An Industrious People: American Economic History

  1. Women and Work in Colonial New England
  2. "Ten Footers" and Factories: Industrial Growth in the Antebellum North
  3. Building Wealth Through the China and East Indies Trade
  4. Consumer Culture & Consumption Landscape in Post-War America 

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The Centrality and Challenges of Learning from Primary Sources

As SALEM in History's subtitle suggests (The Science and Art of Learning from Evidence and Materials in History) primary sources provide a direct and critical link between and among SALEM in History's varied activities and two main goals-improving teacher content knowledge and helping teachers apply that knowledge to the classroom. Project activities aim to improve teachers' abilities at accessing, selecting and analyzing a wide range of primary source material so that they can develop classroom lessons and activities in which primary sources are central-that is, content knowledge and historical thinking and skills are taught with and through them. But the subtitle also suggests that learning from sources-either as an historian or a student of history-is a complex skill, with as much artistry as scientific method involved. As a result, SALEM in History activities are designed to repeatedly and centrally introduce participants to the methods by which historians locate and make meaning from the wide range of primary source materials available to them. In addition, project activities focus on helping participants develop strategies for selecting and teaching with primary sources so that their students, too, can have success drawing meaning from what past generations have left behind.

Making primary source analysis and interpretation central to the teaching of history can have a dramatic impact on overall student academic achievement, for primary source-based history lessons that use an inquiry approach to analyzing and interpreting primary sources not only teach historical literacy, but also build and reinforce a set of transferable skills--observation, organizing data, record-keeping, developing and testing hypotheses, constructing arguments, conducting research, writing. Skills and understandings from other disciplines can be reinforced in the history classroom, and historical knowledge, thinking and skills can assist students in other academic endeavors. With primary sources at the center, learning history becomes an integral part of any curriculum, at any grade level.

SALEM in History's partnerships with institutions that collect, preserve and interpret a wide range of primary source material make the project's primary source focus possible.

Primary Sources from Partner Collections
SALEM in History activities are specifically designed to take advantage of and expose teachers to the rich collections of primary source material available at these two partner institutions. These resources include text sources, artifacts, works of art, and historical buildings to name a few. During both formal and informal SALEM in History activities participants receive ongoing access to and support in using materials from both the Peabody Essex Museum and the Salem Maritime National Historic Site as they work on integrating new content knowledge into their classrooms. Site visits, behind-the scenes tours, release time to conduct research, and the opportunity for one-on-one assistance from SALEM in History staff and Master Teachers all support participants' efforts to use our partners' collections to teach American history in Salem Public School classrooms. Project staff and content experts place special emphasis on the different skills needed to work with and learn from the various types of primary source material available.

Additional Primary Sources and Resources
In addition to an in-depth exploration of the Peabody Essex Museum and Salem Maritime National Historic Site collections, SALEM in History activities and materials introduce participants to collections of primary sources and historical resources at other local and regional museums, libraries and cultural institutions, as well as to high quality web-based collections of primary sources, thereby expanding participants' knowledge of and access to resources they might use to supplement those at partner institutions.

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Schedule of SALEM in History Activities

Each of the three cycles of SALEM in History lasts a full calendar year, beginning in the fall. Participants make a commitment for one full calendar year. They attend monthly content and follow-up sessions throughout the academic year as well as a one week summer session comprised of both types of sessions. Site visits and field trips are scheduled periodically in addition to these regular meetings. Except for site visits and field trips, all academic year activities take place after school hours. Participating teachers are also provided with release time to conduct research for project activities.

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Participation Requirements and Benefits

SALEM in History is specifically designed for those Salem Public School teachers (from elementary through high school) who teach American History as a separate subject. Each cycle of SALEM in History can accommodate thirty teachers. Additional Salem Public School teachers, those who currently teach some aspect of history but not as a separate subject, are welcome to participate if space is available, as teaching assignments may change one year to the next, and a teacher may find him or herself teaching American History as a separate subject in the years following participation in SALEM in History.

The core requirements and assignments for SALEM in History are as follows:

· Graduate-level readings: Participants must complete all assigned readings for content sessions and follow-up sessions. These are graduate level readings of 150-300 pages per session.

· Writing/Note-taking: Participants must complete required brief writing assignments that accompany each content session. These are designed to help participants internalize and synthesize material.

· Full Participation: Participants must come to each SALEM in History session prepared to engage in a lively discussion about the topic, readings and sources at hand.

· Classroom Activity/Primary Source Assignment: Participants must create and classroom-test two brief primary source-based activities over the course of the academic year. These assignments are designed to give participants practice accessing sources and developing ways to successfully use them in classroom activities that integrate content and skills and make primary sources central. These assignments are designed to help participants build the skill set required to complete longer, more involved lesson plans by the end of their involvement with SALEM in History.

· Create Two New Lesson Plans: Participants must create new, substantive, primary source-based lesson plans integrating new skills, content knowledge and primary sources from partner institutions.

Assignments will vary slightly depending on a participant's chosen level of participation: PDP or graduate credit (see below)

Graduate Credit or PDPs
SALEM in History participants may opt to receive either 72 PDPs or 6 graduate credits in History (awarded by Salem State College) for successful completion of one full cycle of SALEM in History. Core expectations (listed above) are the same for both groups. However, assignments vary slightly depending on what level of participation a teacher chooses. Those opting for graduate credit have additional assignments (periodic book reviews and thematic essays) designed to meet the requirements of a graduate history class and prepare them for further graduate work in history. They also get more extensive interaction with the history faculty at Salem State College.

Upon successful completion of one cycle of SIH participants receive a stipend of $2,300.

All books and materials free
Graduate credit is earned free of charge
One-on-one assistance and support from project staff
Opportunities to network and collaborate with colleagues from across the district

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Staff / Management Plan

The SALEM in History management plan is designed to maximize the effectiveness of the project and ensure that project goals are met. Project staff, who are responsible for the day-to-day activities of SALEM in History, are supported and joined by Partner Liaisons and an Advisory Board who assist with project planning and oversight.

Project Director: Carney Maley
Museum Educator: Abaigeal Duda

Partner Liaisons are the main project contacts for their respective organizations.

Salem Public Schools
Marilyn Gigliotti, Ed.D
Assistant Superintendent

Salem State College
Brad Austin, Ph.D
Assistant Professor, Department of History

Peabody Essex Museum
Ray Williams
Director of Education

National Park Service/ Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Hazel Trembley
Education Coordinator


Provides oversight and guidance for SALEM in History activities and sustainability efforts.

    • Irene Axelrod - Head Manuscript Librarian, Peabody Essex Museum
    • Elizabeth Berrien - Curriculum Coordinator, Collins Middle School
    • Tina Cross - Education Specialist, Salem Maritime and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Sites
    • Lynda Coffel - Principal, Bentley Elementary School
    • Gayle Fischer. Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Department of History, Salem State College
    • Kathy Flynn - Head of Reference and Public Services, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum
    • Frank Leonard - Chair, Social Studies Department, Salem High School
    • Joanne O'Keefe - Librarian, Collins Middle School
    • Michelle Pierce - Assistant Professor, Department of Education, Salem State College

All project staff and partners are ex-officio members of Advisory Board
For more information about SALEM in History please contact the Project Director

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