HIST 615: Problems in American History

HIST 615-001: Mason Legacies
(Spring 2023)

04:30 PM to 07:10 PM W

Innovation Hall 336

Section Information for Spring 2023


This course is both a contribution to the university's Mason Legacies initiative and an
introduction to documentary editing. Students will transcribe and annotate sections of an account book that belonged to Stevens Thomson Mason (1760-1803), nephew of George
Mason IV (the famous George), and his son Armistead Thomson Mason (1787-1819), which
is currently available from Fenwick Library's Special Collections in an unedited digitized form: https://scrc.gmu.edu/finding_aids/masonaccountbook.html. The class’s work will eventually be published as a born-digital project accessible to the public. The centerpiece of the project
will be biographical sketches of all of the people mentioned in the account book, which
will offer users a cumulative portrait of a significant subset of the population of Loudoun
County in the post-revolutionary era.

In Part I of the course, students will transcribe and annotate a portion of the account book and research and write brief biographies of some (presumably white) people mentioned in it who are comparatively easier to track down in local records, census, and other sources. In Part II, the class will focus exclusively on the enslaved people mentioned by name in the account book. After meeting with one of more experts in African American local history and genealogy, students will research and write brief biographies of specific enslaved people.


By reading, transcribing, and annotating the Masons' account book, students will learn
about family relationships and finances, legal practice and fees, medicine, slavery, the
plantation economy and local trade, and other related topics. They will also develop certain
digital and editing skills.

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Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 1-6

Readings and discussion of bibliographies, interpretations, and research trends in topics selected by instructor. Notes: May be repeated for credit when topic is different. May be repeated within the term.
Specialized Designation: Green Leaf Related Course, Topic Varies
Registration Restrictions:

Enrollment limited to students with a class of Advanced to Candidacy, Graduate, Junior Plus, Non-Degree or Senior Plus.

Enrollment is limited to Graduate, Non-Degree or Undergraduate level students.

Students in a Non-Degree Undergraduate degree may not enroll.

Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Graduate Regular scale.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.