Textbooks & Teaching Home
Journal of American History

2002 Syllabi
Teaching outside the Box

Editors' Introduction
Gary J. Kornblith & Carol Lasser

U.S. Women Activists
Catherine Badura
Syallbus: 1998, 2000 | Article

The Black Athlete
Amy Bass
Syllabus | Article

Recovering Detroit's Past for History & Theater
Charles Bright

American History Since 1865
A. Glenn Crothers
Syllabus | Article

Intro to American History
John J. Grabowski
Syllabus | Article

American History
Cecilia Aros Hunter & Leslie Gene Hunter
Syllabus | Article

In Search of America's Civil Rights Movement
Alyssa Picard & Joseph J. Gonzalez
Syllabus | Article

Out of Many: Histories of the U.S.
David A. Reichard
Syllabus | Article

Women & Social Movements
Kathryn Kish Sklar
Syllabus | Article

Law & Society in American History
John Wertheimer
Syllabus | Article

Colonial & Revolutionary History of the Southern Tidewater
James P. Whittenburg
Syllabus | Article

American National Character
Michael Zuckerman
Syllabus | Article

Freshman Seminar on the Colonial & Revolutionary History of the Southern Tidewater

History 150W-4
Fall 2001

James P. Whittenburg
College of William and Mary

The syllabus below is a small excerpt from the course Web site available at

I've offered this freshman seminar on Saturdays for the last four years. For the fall of 2001, we'll try Thursdays from 11 am to 3 pm. This isn't your typical class. For one thing, the schedule says we meet from 11 to 12:20 in Wren 02, then in James Blair Hall 331 from 12:21 until 3:00. Well, Wren 02 is actually the "Wren Kitchen," the basement room under the Great Hall, which we'll enter via a door from the outside on Richmond Road side on the building. James Blair 331 is one of my offices! We really don't need a classroom for more than half-an-hour on most Thursdays because our sessions will take place, in whole or in part, "on site" at the places mentioned on my web page. Now, travel time can be tricky, and I hate to rush students when we are on-site, so I plan to shoot for getting people back in time for 3:30 classes. There will be two required Saturday fieldtrips that will start early (like 8:30 am) and finish late (like whenever we get home). If these admitted eccentricities are deeply troubling, I'd recommend dropping the course. Finally along these lines, there will be an OPTIONAL SUNDAY BARBECUE at the Ruins of Rosewell Plantation (more on this later).

I've always held discussions in this class over an extended lunch hour (comes from my association with archaeologists over the years). In my opinion, the food has added considerably to the fun of the course, and I'd like to retain the feature, but we will probably have to picnic much of the time. Well, pizza or Cheese Shop sandwiches next to the York or James isn't exactly onerous. Typically, I'll take orders for food by email and you can reimburse me. When we eat at restaurants, I'll put the entire bill on a credit card and, again, you can reimburse me. Costs beyond the food will include computer disks, photographic supplies/services (optional), and admission fees to some of the museums. Most of the museums (Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown/Yorktown Foundation, National Park Service, and the several churches) will let us in FREE or nearly so. The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities charges $3 for Bacon's Castle. Berkeley and Shirley plantations along the James River in Charles City County charge about six bucks each, and Westover asks a three-dollar contribution to tour the grounds only. Rosewell will set you back one dollar. Saturday trips to places like Monticello or Mount Vernon would be pricier, but in overview this is "heap cheap," especially in view of....


Everything is available FREE on-line! Click on a title in the syllabus and you'll get the text (still under construction: 8/13/01). As you'll be creating webpages for this class, you may wish to purchase a guide to Netscape (make SURE it covers Composer), but experience tells me that you can get along quite well without one even if you don't know beans about computers. You might also want a copy of Michael Olmert's Official Visitor's Guide to Colonial Williamsburg, but you could just as easily get along with the two Colonial Williamsburg websites: and Check out the many computing guides at the college bookstore, which also stocks the guide to CW.
I also recommend that you purchase a single Iomega "ZIP" disk (holds the equivalent of 60+ 1.44 megabyte 3.5" computer disks) and obtain the use of some sort of camera (I use cheap disposable cameras). I will bring a digital camera along on our fieldtrips, and you may use it. Whatever photos we take with it, I'll post that evening to a gallery for the class. However, there is much to be said for producing one's own art. Anything you have in the way of photographs, we can scan in the labs--and I'll show you how.

Requirements & Grades:

Students generally want to know every little thing about the grading system. Truth be known, it is all pretty-much a subjective process and in the end I evaluate the totality of your work over the course of the semester. Admittedly, many students find this ambiguity unsettling during the semester, but few seem to think the grades unfair in the end. Keep in mind that A grades are reserved for EXCEPTIONAL work, and to win an A for the course means hitting on just about all cylinders just about all of the time. The grade of Bcovers a much wider range of perfectly acceptable, even superior, performance. Any student who scrambles over all the course requirements and delivers even a modest effort should have no trouble attaining a C--acceptable, but undistinguished. To receive a final grade lower than C, a student in this class would simply have to stop trying. As I am incapable of higher mathematics, I have devised "the rule of quarters." Each component of the course will determine 25% (more-or-less) of your grade for the course:

I. Electronic Journal (25%): For the journal in this class each student will build a web page that contains images pertaining to, accounts of, observations from, and reactions to our field trips, readings, and class discussions, one entry for each week in the semester. Many of the pages from last year's class are still available. You might want to take a look. Just click here: Fall of 2000. Some of the very best pages were the work of students who had absolutely no computing experience. I encourage the use of Internet resources and the online databases available in Swem Library. I'd also use web search engines. The "Google"search engine--especially with its "Find Images" twist--is a great resource. You may also use interviews with interpreters, museum staffers, archaeologists, and other experts. I hope you will use some "art" of your own-digitized photos, for example-but there is plenty available on the web or in books and magazines that you can scan. Postcards can provide some amazingly good professional art for 25 cents a throw. NO COMPUTING EXPERTISE IS ANTICIPATED--I'LL TEACH YOU ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW. YOU DON'T EVEN NEED TO OWN A COMPUTER--THE MACHINES IN THE W&M LABS ARE JUST FINE. The only technical requirements are that you include these elements in each week's section: text, art, and at least one link to an Internet site that bears on the topic for the week. As a bonus, participating in this seminar's electronic journals project will earn you certification for the undergraduate computing requirement in history. I'll shortly ask you about convenient times for a few lab sessions intended to get you off and running on the creation of these web pages. Thereafter, I'll gladly work with you as needed one-on-one in my office to create and maintain your website. Be as creative as you like in using the web, but be assured that a highly developed set of web-authoring skills is NOT necessary to success in this course. What you say is the key, and the greatest tool you have is the English language. It is the medium of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen, Edmund Morgan, and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. It is free to you for the taking. Don't abuse it.
The electronic journal must be complete by 5:00 on the last day of classes for the semester (7 December). Length is unimportant. Quality is everything. I will expect to see weekly evidence of (1) a grasp of the major points in the readings, (2) critical evaluation of the meaning of the museum or historic site in relationship to the theses expressed in the readings, (3) understanding of the class discussion for the week, (4) an effort to locate web sources of factual information and images appropriate to the week's topic. The form of the actual web page need not be elaborate, but I will expect to see improvement over the course of the semester. Rather than award numerical scores or even letter grades for each week's addition, I'll offer each student a brief critique and suggestions for improvement. This "electronic term paper" will therefore be a work in progress without formal grades until I evaluate it as a whole at the end of the semester.

II: Abstracts of Readings (25%): Abstracts are time-honored tools for history scholars in which one distills a piece of scholarship into a minimalist statement of the author's thesis, offers insightful affirmation or criticism (sometimes both), and comments on the significance of the piece--all in no more than 600 words. You will be responsible for writing one such abstract each week. I've marked either one or two readings from each week's batch with this notation "(ABSTRACT)." If there is only one that week, it is the only option; if I've marked two, select one from the pair. Send the abstract to me as an attachment to an email by 5:00 Wednesday. Any word processor will suffice. Let me be clear about something: None of the readings are optional--whether or not I ask you to abstract a piece, you are responsible for having read it and understood it so that you can discuss it during class.
I'll award letter grades for abstracts on a weekly basis. These things break down into three elements: (1) identifying the author's thesis (2) evaluating the author's argument (3) attaching some meaning to the essay in terms of what it says or does not say about the seminar topic at hand. To receive an A, the student must succeed in all three endeavors. To receive a B, the student must correctly identify the author's thesis but might do a less adequate job in the second or third elements. For a C, the student must again identify the thesis, but may do a poor job on either or both of the other elements. If you miss the boat entirely or mangle the prose to the point I can't follow you, I'll require a rewrite based on my comments. Anyone has the option to do a rewrite, which can raise your grade on the abstract by one letter. A good job with these things will set you up very nicely for class discussion. In preparing abstracts, you might wish to seek advice from the excellent staff of the History Writing Resources Center. These are advanced doctoral students in American history who have special skill in coaching student writers. Check out their website: HWRC.

III. Class time Oral Reports (25%): Each of you will undertake two oral reports that stress the presentation of factual information linked in some way to the week's topic. The research should be easily accomplished from readily available material on the net, in Swem Library, and at the Colonial Williamsburg Research Library (where you will be welcome, by the way, and where you will have borrowing privileges). I'll be happy to guide you to additional places to look. My purpose is to have you become familiar with a few of the most basic sources of factual information about early American History and to provide in your reports some "take off points" for class discussions. You'll get the topic assignments one week ahead of time. I'll expect you to email me an outline of the report by 5:00 pm on the Wednesday prior to your time at center stage. I'll alert you if anything is amiss. These are to be SHORTreports--no more than 5 minutes--sometimes delivered before we depart, sometimes at lunch, sometimes in the middle of a site visit. Thinkof them this way:You are standing near the punch bowl at a party. Two or three people come up and demand that you explain your topic to them. In the space of consuming one glass of punch and two crackers loaded with Brie, what would you tell them?
I will assign grades for oral reports primarily on the basis of my evaluation of the effort you put into the search for information, the appropriateness of the information (in the context of the week's topic) selected for inclusion in the oral report, and the coherence of the report itself. I may comment privately on the style of oral presentation, but it will not figure prominently in the grading process.

IV. Class Participation (25%): Here you are subject to my appallingly subjective evaluation of your participation in all class time activities. As much of the discussion for any week will take place over lunch, we'll often do a lot of talking before we even see whatever it is we came to see, which in turn privileges the readings. Indeed, the only preparations I will expect is that you have a firm grasp of the readings. See why the abstracts are so important? By the way, you may NOT refer to the abstracts during discussions. There will be also ample opportunity to talk as we poke around the places we visit and on the way home-any place where we have an opening for an impromptu seminar session. While I do care a great deal about attitude and attendance, I'm also willing to work around problems (like the schedule for the Women's Crew one year), but please talk to me early on.

Just In case you missed it, there are no exams in this class.

A Note on Guests: I'm delighted to accommodate requests for guests (roommates, for example)--to the extent of our available transportation, which is very limited. Do consult me ahead of time. Guests who can provide their own transportation (such as parents) are always welcome, even at the last minute. Naturally, guests must pay any museum admissions.


The schedule below is tentative, but probably about right, at least for the first six weeks. After that, when and where we go is still up in the air, pending some decisions by people outside the class and to some extent on your preferences.

30 August:
An Introduction
Readings: none
Lunch: Lo Dog (hotdogs), maybe?

6 September:
Jamestown: The Settlement Park
James Horn, "Servant Emigration to the Chesapeake in the Seventeenth Century," in Thad W. Tate & David L. Ammerman, eds., The Chesapeake in the Seventeenth Century: Essays on Anglo-American Society (Chapel Hill, 1979), pp. 51-95. (ABSTRACT)
Nancy Oestreich Lurie, "Indian Cultural Adjustment to European Civilization," in James Morton Smith, ed., Seventeenth-Century America: Essays in Colonial History (Chapel Hill, 1959), pp. 33-60. (ABSTRACT)
Jeffrey L. Hantman, "Between Powhatan and Quirank: Reconstructing Monacan Culture and History in the Context of Jamestown," American Anthropologist, 92, 3 (1990), pp. 676-690.
Lunch: Jamestown Settlement Park (Don't miss the "Powhatan Stew"!)

13 September:
Jamestown: The Island
William Kelso & Beverly Straube, Jamestown Rediscovery VI (Jamestown, 2000), pp. 1-68.
Carville V. Earle, "Environment, Disease, and Mortality in Early Virginia," in Thad W. Tate & David L. Ammerman, eds., The Chesapeake in the Seventeenth Century: Essays on Anglo-American Society (Chapel Hill, 1979), pp. 95-125. (ABSTRACT)
Karen Ordahl Kupperman, "Apathy and Death in Early Jamestown," The Journal of American History, Vol. 66, No. 1. (Jun., 1979), pp. 24-40. (ABSTRACT)
James P. Whittenburg, "After the Fort: Jamestown, circa. 1620-1699," Virtual Jamestown (forthcoming).
Lunch: James River Pies (Pizza)

20 September:
The Lost World: Martin's Hundred
Ivor Noel Hume, "New Clues to an Old Mystery," National Geographic (June, 1979), pp. 735-767.
Ivor Noel Hume, "First Look at a Lost Settlement," National Geographic (January, 1982), pp. 53-77.
Edmund S. Morgan, "The First American Boom: Virginia 1618 to 1630," William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd. Ser., Vol. 28, No. 2. (Apr., 1971), pp. 169-198.(ABSTRACT)
Edmund S. Morgan, "The Labor Problem at Jamestown, 1607-18," The American Historical Review, Vol. 76, No. 3. (Jun., 1971), pp. 595-611. (ABSTRACT)
Lunch: Tequila Rose (Mexican)

27 September:
The Southside: Bacon's Castle, St. Luke's Church
Bernard Bailyn, "Politics and Social Structure in Virginia," in James Morton Smith, ed., Seventeenth-Century America: Essays in Colonial History (Chapel Hill, 1959), pp. 90-115. (ABSTRACT)
William H. Seiler, "The Anglican Parish in Virginia," in James Morton Smith, ed., Seventeenth-Century America: Essays in Colonial History (Chapel Hill, 1959), pp. 119-142.
Kevin P. Kelly, " 'In dispers'd Country Plantations': Settlement Patterns in Seventeenth-Century Surry County, Virginia," in Thad W. Tate & David L. Ammerman, eds., The Chesapeake in the Seventeenth Century: Essays on Anglo-American Society (Chapel Hill, 1979), pp. 183-205. (ABSTRACT)
John E. Selby, "Bacon's Rebellion," in Billings, et al, Colonial Virginia: A History (White Plains, NY, 1986), pp. 77-96.
Lunch: Smithfield Ice Cream Parlor

4 October:
River Gods I: Shirley & Berkeley Plantations
David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York, 1989), pp. 207-246.
Darrett & Anita Ruttman, " 'Now-Wives and Sons-in-Law,' Parental Death in a Seventeenth-Century Virginia County," in Thad W. Tate & David L. Ammerman, eds., The Chesapeake in the Seventeenth Century: Essays on Anglo-American Society (Chapel Hill, 1979), pp. 153-182. (ABSTRACT)
Jan Lewis, "Domestic Tranquility and the Management of Emotion among the Gentry of Pre-Revolutionary Virginia," William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd. Ser., Vol. 39, No. (1982), pp. 135-149. (ABSTRACT)
Lunch: The Coach House Tavern (Berkeley Plantation)

11 October:
How the Majority Lived: Carter's Grove Plantation Slave Quarter and Yorktown Victory Center Yeoman Farmstead
Lorena Walsh, From Calabar to Carter's Grove: The History of a Virginia Slave Community (Charlottesville, 1997), pp. 1-21 & 171-226.
Curtia James, "To Live Like a Slave: In Reenactment at the Carter's Grove Slave Quarter, Black Interpreters gain Insights to Their Ancestral Past", Colonial Williamsburg: The Journal of Colonial Williamsburg, 16, 1 (1993), pp. 14-24.
Ira Berlin, "From Creole to African: Atlantic Creoles and the Origins of African American Society in Mainland North America," William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd. Ser., Vol. 53, No. 2. (Apr., 1996), pp. 251-288. (ABSTRACT)
Camille Wells, "The Planter's Prospect: Houses, Outbuildings, and Rural Landscapes in
Eighteenth-Century Virginia," Winterthur Portfolio, 27 (1993), pp. 1-31. (ABSTRACT)
Lunch: Cheese Shop Sandwiches by the York River at Yorktown

20 October: (First Saturday Fieldtrip)
Revolution: Yorktown Battlefield, the Town of York, and the Yorktown Victory Center
Catherine Kerrison, "By the Book: Eliza Ambler Brent Carrington and Conduct Literature in Late Eighteenth-Century Virginia," Virginia Magazine of History & Biography, 105 (Winter 1997), pp. 27-52. (ABSTRACT)
Woody Holton, " 'Rebel Against Rebel': Enslaved Virginians and the Coming of the Revolution," Virginia Magazine of History & Biography, 105 (Spring 1997), pp. 157-192. (ABSTRACT)
Mark R. Wenger, "The Central Passage in Virginia: Evolution of an Eighteenth-Century Living Space," in Camille Wells, ed., Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, II (1986), pp. 137-149.
Wilford Kale, "Forgotten Gloucestertown: Site of Tarleton's Surrender, the Old Port is Archaeological Treasure Trove," Colonial Williamsburg: The Journal of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 11, 4 (1989), pp. 21-25.
Lunch: Cheese Shop Sandwiches by the York River at the VIMS

25 October:
The Ruins of Rosewell and Fairfield Plantation
T. H. Breen, "Horses and Gentlemen: The Cultural Significance of Gambling among the Gentry of Virginia," William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd. Ser., Vol. 34, No. 2. (Apr., 1977), pp. 239-257. (ABSTRACT)
Rhys Isaac, The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790 (Chapel Hill, 1982), pp. i-135.
Lunch: Picnic (Cheese Shop Sandwiches) at Fairfield


1 November:
River Gods II: Westover Plantation, Westover Chapel, Charles City County Courthouse
Daniel Blake Smith, Inside the Great House: Planter Family Life in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake (Ithaca, 1980), pp. 55-125.
Rhys Isaac, "Evangelical Revolt: The Nature of the Baptists' Challenge to the Traditional Order in Virginia, 1765 to 1775," William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd. Ser., Vol. 31, No. 3. (Jul., 1974), pp. 345-368. (ABSTRACT)
Lunch: Picnic at Westover (Cheese Shop Sandwiches)

3 November:
Monticello, Jefferson, & Mulberry Row (Second Saturday Fieldtrip)
Readings: Camille Wells, "Virginia by Design: The Making of Tuckahoe and the Remaking of Monticello."

8 November:
Middle Plantation: The Origins of the College of William & Mary and Williamsburg
Jennifer Agee Jones, " 'The Very Heart and Centre of the Country': From Middle Plantation to Williamsburg," in Robert P. Maccubbin & Martha Hamilton-Phillips, eds., Williamsburg, Virginia, A City before the State: An Illustrated History (Williamsburg, 2000), pp. 15-24.
Carol Shamas, "English-Born and Creole Elites in Turn-of-the-Century Virginia," in Thad W. Tate & David L. Ammerman, eds., The Chesapeake in the Seventeenth Century: Essays on Anglo-American Society (Chapel Hill, 1979), pp. 274-296. (ABSTRACT)
Lunch: Picnic (Cheese Shop Sandwiches)

15 November:
Williamsburg Considered as a Seat of Power
Carl Lounsbury, "Ornaments of Civic Aspiration: The Public Buildings of Williamsburg," in Robert P. Maccubbin & Martha Hamilton-Phillips, eds., Williamsburg, Virginia, A City before the State: An Illustrated History (Williamsburg, 2000), pp. 25-38.
Carl Bridenbaugh, Seat of Empire: The Political Role of Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg (New York, 1958), pp. 1-41.
A. G. Roeber, "Authority, Law, and Custom: The Rituals of Court Day in Tidewater, Virginia, 1720 to 1750," William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd. Ser., Vol. 37, No. 1. (Jan., 1980), pp. 29-52. (ABSTRACT)
Lunch: Chowning's Tavern Arbor

29 November:
Williamsburg Considered as a Gated Community

Mark R. Wenger, "Boomtown: Williamsburg in the Eighteenth Century," in Robert P. Maccubbin & Martha Hamilton-Phillips, eds., Williamsburg, Virginia, A City before the State: An Illustrated History (Williamsburg, 2000), pp. 39-48. (ABSTRACT)
The Colonial Williamsburg Interpreter, Vol. 20, No. 3, 1999 Special Edition focused on the Peyton Randolph Project, pp. 1-51.
Julie Richter, "Slavery in John Blair's Public and Personal Lives in 1751," The Colonial
Williamsburg Interpreter, 20 (Fall, 1999), pp. 1-8.
Harold B. Gill Jr., "Portrait of an Artisan--An Eighteenth-Century Williamsburg Craftsman Profiled, "Colonial Williamsburg: The Journal of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 23, 2 (2001), pp. 15-20.
Lunch: DeWitt Wallace Gallery Cafeteria

6 December:
Williamsburg Considered as a Shopping Mall

Ann Smart Martin, "The Role of Pewter as Missing Artifact: Attitudes Towards Tablewares in Late Eighteenth-Century Virginia," Historical Archaeology, 23 (1989), 1-27.
Ann Smart Martin, " 'Fashionable Sugar Dishes, Latest Fashion Ware': The Creamware Revolution in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake," in Paul A. Shackel & Barbara J. Little, eds., Historical Archaeology of the Chesapeake (1994), pp. 169-187. (ABSTRACT)
Mark R. Wenger, "The Dining Room in Early Virginia," in Thomas Carter & Bernard L. Herman, eds., Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, III (1989), pp. 149-159. ( ABSTRACT)
Lunch: Class Choice of Williamsburg Taverns

Saturday Fieldtrips:

I thought we'd head to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello for one fieldtrip; to George Washington's Mount Vernon for the other. I'll try to arrange a talk by architectural history Camille Wells at Monticello. Esther White, an archaeologist at Mount Vernon, has offered to give us a "behind the scenes tour" there. Both are well established authorities, both are alums of the college, and both are good friends.

If we could manage it time-wise, it would be nice to see either Ash Lawn (James Monroe) or Montpellier (James Madison) when we go to Monticello. Similarly, on the Mount Vernon trip, maybe we could check out Stratford Hall (Light Horse Harry Lee). We need to discuss timing. I'll be out of town on a lot of Saturdays this fall. October 6, 13, & 20 look like my best shots. Look over your schedules.

Readings depend on the details. Lunch on the Monticello trip will almost certainly be at the Michie Tavern (nearby); I'll have to ask Esther what works best at Mount Vernon. We'd need to pick up something for supper on the road, but we can leave that hanging.