Seeing Dead People: Biography in the Survey

Robert Cornelius, Phila., 1839. Possibly the first American photo portrait.This fall, I’m teaching a freshman U.S. history survey with a couple of unusual requirements. First, my class covers American history, from the seventeenth century to the twentieth, in a single frenzied semester. Second, and also by school policy, all the readings in the course must be biographical. Continue reading

Guest Post: Teaching with Legal Sources: The Case of Ann Hibbens

Today’s guest poster is Sara Damiano, a Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins University. Her dissertation is entitled, “Gender, Law, and the Culture of Credit in New England, 1730-1790.”

As we plunge into syllabus-writing season, I would like to contribute to The Junto’s ongoing conversation on teaching with primary sources. (Joseph Adelman and Glenda Goodman have previously written on favorite sources in the survey and on music in the classroom, respectively.)  I’m a historian of gender and law, so I would like to make the argument for including legal sources in our syllabi, even for courses that aren’t explicitly focused on legal history. By way of illustration, I would also like to recommend one of my favorite legal history sources for teaching: the 1640 trial of Ann Hibbens before the First Church of Boston.

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