Our “Beyond the Bubble” website provides teachers with short “History Assessments of Thinking” (HATS) using documents from the Library of Congress’s vast digital collection. Steering a middle course between discrete multiple choice items and hour-long “Document-Based” essays, HATs allow teachers to make frequent checks of student understanding and to adjust their instruction accordingly. Each HAT comes with a digitized primary source, an interactive scoring rubric, and sample student responses. 



Historical Thinking for the 21st Century

Many claims are made about new forms of assessment, but the evidence supporting such claims is scant. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Historical Thinking for the 21st Century project compares new history assessments with traditional tests. A series of validity studies explores student thinking in real time, as students work thorough new assessments alongside familiar multiple choice tests. Do different assessments elicit different thinking? Further, how do teachers cope with the demands of new assessments, which provide more information about student thinking than numerical tabulations of correct and incorrect answers? A second aspect of our work marries curriculum with assessment by building instructional modules that embed assessment into the fabric of instruction at the middle school level.



In 2009 Stanford was named West Coast partner of the largest library in the world, the Library of Congress. The Library's Teaching with Primary Sources Program connects educators with an extensive collection of digitized primary sources. The Stanford center shows how to use primary sources in middle and high school history classrooms through professional development partnerships with Bay Area schools, web-based resources, and teacher education initiatives. Our aim is to give teachers the support and materials they need to develop and assess their students' historical understanding.


Teaching with Primary Sources (Library of Congress)

Teaching with Primary Sources (Stanford) 


Stanford-SFUSD Partnership

SHEG maintains a close relationship with teachers in San Francisco Unified School District and is a founding member of the Stanford-SFUSD Consortium. SFUSD provided the initial funding for digitizing the Reading Like a Historian curriculum, where it continues to be used across middle and high school levels. Currently, San Francisco teachers are working side by side with SHEG researchers to pilot new forms of history assessments, as we explore how the information gleaned from these tests informs instructional decision making.



SHEG/Nebraska Partnership

In 2011, SHEG signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Lincoln Public Schools to collaborate on using new history assessments for the purposes of district-wide assessment.  In addition to Stanford and LPS, the partnership includes Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska. Together, we explore questions like, “What kind of professional development is needed for innovate pedagogies to take root?” and “How can we improve instruction within the contours of the traditional middle and high school day?”




Fraught History: Teaching the Holocaust in Poland

The teaching of the Holocaust has been studied in many venues. But the place where more Jews perished than any other –Poland—has not received extensive attention by researchers of curriculum and learning. This project, funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation and conducted by Magdalena Gross, explores what motivates a group of Polish teachers to volunteer for a workshop on teaching the Holocaust, what they take from this professional development experience, and how their students interpret the lessons from the darkest chapter of European history. 




Digital History in the Classroom and Beyond

Funded by a grant from the Wallenberg Foundation of Sweden, the Digital History in the Classroom and Beyond focuses on how technology is transforming historical learning. Once the province of teachers and state-approved textbooks, historical knowledge is exploding on the Internet in user-generated Wikis, “Vids,” chat rooms devoted to historical topics, and history-related websites. Carl Becker’s aphorism from his 1931 address, “Everyman his own historian,” has become a digital reality. How can classroom instruction benefit from these developments? How can we use new technologies to change instruction in middle and high school classrooms?


Reading Like a Historian, a project developed in tandem with the San Francisco Unified School District, is a high school history curriculum that is literacy-rich and document-based. It focuses on core content, critical thinking, and improving reading comprehension. This curriculum draws on over 20 years of research on historical thinking and educational practice. Since being put on the Web in 2010, the curriculum has been downloaded over 200,000 times. 


Reading Like a Historian Video

New Reading Like a Historian Video 

Reading Like a Historian & Abby Reisman Win Awards

San Francisco Chronicle: How Stanford, S.F. Schools Learn from Each Other

Reading Like a Historian Curriculum

Opening Up the Textbook

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts 

Reading Like a Historian: Teaching Literacy in Middle and High School Classrooms (Teachers College Press, 2010)

Scholarly Articles

Reisman, A. (2011). The "Document-Based" Lesson: Bringing disciplinary inquiry into high school history classrooms with struggling readers. Journal of Curriculum Studies

Reisman, A. (2012). Reading Like a Historian: A document-based history curriculum intervention in urban schools. Cognition and Instruction

Wineburg, S, & Martin, D. (2004). Reading and rewriting history. Educational Leadership.




Historical Thinking Matters

The site, an award-winning collaboration between Stanford and George Mason Universities, provides digital materials to help students “read like historians.” Resources focus on American history topics like the Spanish-American War, civil rights, Social Security, and the changing role of women. The project won the American Historical Association's 2008 James Harvey Robinson Prize for “most outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning of history in any field for public or educational purposes.”


Historical Thinking Matters Website

Using the Web to Teach Historical Thinking

Seeing Thinking on the Web

2008 James Harvey Robinson Prize of the American Historical Association for an Outstanding Teaching Aid

James Harvey Robinson Prize letter



Investigating Historical Consciousness

The Investigating Historical Consciousness project surveyed 4000 young people and adults from all fifty states in order to study changing notions of the "most famous Americans in history." Contrary to the assertions of some experts, this research showed that changes in the curriculum have dramatically influenced how students view important figures from our nation's past.



Goodbye, Columbus

“Famous Americans”: The Changing Pantheon of American Heroes

USA Today: High Schoolers Name Women, Black Americans 'Most Famous'

 NJ Star Ledger: With a Black President in the White House, Some Wonder if Black History Month is Still Necessary


National History Education Clearinghouse

The National History Education Clearinghouse helps teachers become more effective and shows students how history affects people's daily lives. The Clearninghouse was co-developed by George Mason and Stanford Universities in association with the American Historical Association and the National History Center, and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The Clearinghouse has links to a wide range of history information, sources, and content. It provides teaching tools and lesson plan reviews, guides to working with primary sources, and models of classroom teaching.


National History Education Clearinghouse Website

Stanford Report: National History Education Clearinghouse is Launched Online

Review of the National History Education Clearinghouse


Historical Sense-Making Project

The Historical Sense-Making Project was a three-year longitudinal study that explored how young people learn about history, focusing on both the history lessons in the classroom as well as history learned around the kitchen table. A key finding was the pivotal role played by films in shaping Americans' contemporary historical consciousness.


Common Belief and the Cultural Curriculum: An Intergenerational Study of Historical Consciousness

What Can “Forrest Gump” Tell Us about Students’ Historical Understanding?


Global Perspectives on World History: Swedish-American Collaboration

In every country teaching world history is framed by a narrow national context. Toward a Global Perspective on World History at the High School Level was a web-based collaboration between students in Sweden and the U.S. with the goal of overcoming the limitations of a single national lens. A joint effort between SHEG (PI's Sam Wineburg & Brigid Barron) and Sweden's Kristianstad University, the project showed how students in two countries understand World War II  from different viewpoints.


Toward a Global Perspective on World History at the High School Level, Final Report


History that Matters: Can Sacred and Academic History Dwell Together?

History education has two major aims: to shape identity and to foster critical thinking. Most research focuses on the latter, so that historical expertise is viewed as idealized and narrow. History that Matters examines what happens when history confronts the beliefs of faith communities and their members. The study compared how historians with and without religious affiliations, clergy, and (non-religious) scientists and engineers interpreted documents about the Biblical Exodus and the first Thanksgiving, and reveals how people think about “history that matters.”




Gottlieb, E., & Wineburg, S. (2012). Between Veritas and Communitas: Epistemic switching in the reading of academic and sacred history. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21(1), 84-129.  

Wineburg, S., & Gottlieb, E. (2011). Historians meet Thanksgiving: What would George do? Historically Speaking: Journal of the Historical Society, 26(5). 

Wineburg, S., & Gottlieb, E. (2011, November 16). What would George do? San Jose Mercury News

Thinking Aloud and Looking aHEAD at Museum Learning  

The Thinking Aloud and Looking aHEAD at Museum Learning project developed a head camera and research protocol to study what people learn from spending time at a history museum. Despite the educational opportunities provided by museums, few scholars have looked at how learning actually takes place. This project addresses that gap by creating a new research methodology to use in museums.


Stanford Humanities Lab