History's Community Outreach

Western's History Department, with 15 award-winning faculty members dedicated to enhancing the public's understanding of and appreciation for history, is active in several community outreach and public service programs, with a particular focus on enriching the teaching of history in the region's secondary schools.  WIU's History Department provides professional development opportunities for history teachers through our Annual History Conference and the "Teaching American History" grant-supported workshops and summer travel-study trips we offer each year, as well as a variety of other outreach activities throughout the year. See the Community Outreach News for the latest news about the WIU History Department's activities! 


Dr. Peter Cole speaks to teachers at a "TAH" Grant workshop

"Teaching American History" Grants

Through a long-standing partnership with the Hancock-McDonough Regional Office of Education (ROE 26), WIU's History Department has participated in a series of three U.S. Department of Education "Teaching American History" (TAH) grants to enhance the teaching of U.S. history in the secondary schools in a twenty-one-county region surrounding Macomb. The Department's third multi-year TAH grant began in Summer 2009 and extends through Summer 2013. Each year of each of the grants, for the past eight years, the participating teachers have developed teaching strategies and resources that are then provided free to all secondary schools and Regional Offices of Education in the twenty-one county region.

The Department's TAH grant involves a series of summer travel-study trips for approximately thirty history teachers in the region, led by WIU faculty members, combined with semi-annual on-campus workshops led by WIU History faculty members, to prepare teachers for the summer trips and provide opportunities for additional teachers to enhance their understanding of the nation's history. Approximately seventy teachers from the twenty-one-county region attend each of these workshops. The teachers traveling each the summer are selected from those attending the on-campus workshops during the previous year.

In Summer 2012, following on-campus workshops featuring presentations by Drs. Richard Filipink, George Hopkins, Barclay Key, and Walter Kretchik, a group of teachers will travel with Drs. Kretchik and Larry Balsamo to historic sites and Presidential libraries in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

In the first year of the grant, after on-campus workshops featuring presentations by Drs. Balsamo, Key, Cole, and Ed Woell, a group of twenty-seven of the history teachers who attended both workshops traveled in Summer 2009 to Memphis, New Orleans, the Mississippi Delta, and Vicksburg with Drs. Key and Balsamo. The themes of this trip were slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, southern culture, and Civil Rights. In the grant's second year, after on-campus workshops featuring presentations by Professors Virginia Jelatis, Richard Filipink, Peter Cole, and Walter Kretchik, the grant took teachers to Boston, Massachusetts and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in Summer 2010, under the leadership of Drs. Jelatis and Balsamo, to explore America's colonial and Revolutionary roots. In the third year of the grant, following on-campus workshops featuring presentations by Professors Timothy Roberts, Peter Cole, Barclay Key, and Richard Filipink, the grant took teachers to Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia and Montgovery and Birmingham, Alabama, in Summer 2011, under the leadership of Dr. Key and Dr. Larry Balsamo. The trip focused on historic Civil Rights and Civil War sites.

Teachers participating in each of these trips prepare a DVD containing a variety of teaching strategies and resources, including unit and lesson plans, based on their visits to museums and historic sites. A copy of each year's DVD is given free to every school in the twenty-one county region, for possible use in their history classrooms.

The History Coordinator for the grant is Professor Emeritus, Dr. Larry Balsamo.

Dr. Roberts at Lincoln Exhibit Reception

Dr. Timothy Roberts Speaks at Opening of NEH Lincoln Exhibit at WIU

Annual WIU History Conference

The 38th Annual WIU History Conference will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2013.  After morning presentations by classroom teachers on teaching the Core Curriculum and on incorporating historic sites and museums into classroom instruction, and by WIU faculty members on a variety of subjects in US, European, and Asian history, the conference will culminate after lunch with the Keynote Address by Dr. Stacey Robertson, Oglesby Professor of American Heritage at Bradley University and author of Hearts Beating for Liberty:  Women Abolitionists in the Old Northwest (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).  Five CPDUs are available for teachers attending the conference.  Following the conference, a Historic Walking Tour of Macomb's downtown Square will be available for interested participants.  Registration brochures will be available in mid-February.

The 37th Annual WIU History Conference was held on Saturday, March 24, 2012. After a series of morning presentations by faculty from the WIU History Department, the conference culminated with lunch and an afternoon Keynote Address by Dr. Daniel Walker Howe, the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848, in the Oxford University Press series, the Oxford History of the United States. Dr. Howe is Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus at Oxford University in England and past president of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR). As in past years, each conference participant was provided with materials containing additional information on the faculty presentations. 

The 36th Annual WIU History Conference was held on Saturday, March 26, 2011. After a series of morning presentations by faculty from the History Department and a panel presentation by WIU's Religious Studies faculty, the conference culminated with lunch and an afternoon Keynote Address by Dr. Ray Arsenault, the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History at University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. Most recently, Prof. Arsenault published Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice with Oxford University Press and consulted on PBS's American Experience program on the Freedom Riders. As in the past, each conference participant was provided additional materials on all faculty presentations. Conference Organizer Dr. Barclay Key or History Department Chair Dr. Virginia Boynton would be happy to answer any questions you might have about the History Department's Annual History Conference.

The 35th Annual History Conference was held on Saturday, May 1, 2010. Illinois public school teachers received Professional Development Unit credits for attending the conference if they wished. Dr. Donna Gabaccia of the University of Minnesota gave the Larry T. Balsamo Keynote address on "Imagining Nations of Immigrants." In addition, twelve WIU History faculty and emeritus faculty members discussed a wide array of historical subjects during the three morning sessions.



WIU History Conference participants

WIU History Department's Community Service in the News