"Graffiti Houses" NEH Workshop Teaches History Teachers

"Graffiti Houses" NEH Workshop Teaches History Teachers
The signature of soldier Henry Trout as graffiti on the wall of one of the Civil War homes.

This summer, the Department of History and Art History and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media hosted two different week-long workshops for high school history teachers, funded by the NEH as a Landmarks in American History and Culture Workshops. These workshops were titled "Graffiti Houses: The Civil War from the Perspective of Individual Soldiers."

Led by Stephen Robertson and Jennifer Rosenfeld, these summer teacher institutes focused on the Civil War through the lives of soldiers who left their mark in Northern Virginia landmarks now known as "Civil War Graffiti Houses." Workshop participants selected a piece of graffiti from these locations and began to piece together the story of the individual who created it. Through research trips to the National Archives and to Gettysburg (where many of the soldiers eventually fought and are memorialized), as well as lectures, discussions, and hands-on workshops in photography, digital mapping, and online exhibit building, participating teachers experienced "doing history" and developed strategies based on those experiences to use in their own classrooms.

The workshops had a wide range of instructors. In addition to Robertson, Rosenfeld, and several history PhD students in the department, the workshops featured presentations from faculty at GMU and other universities, the lead multimedia developer at RRCHNM, and public history professionals at the Grafitti Houses.

The projects that the teachers created are publicly available on the Graffiti Soldiers website.