Past Institutes

From Disunion to Empire: The United States, 1850–1900 (2008)

In June 2008, eighty-two Texas teachers attended two professional development institutes organized by Humanities Texas, Trinity University, and the University of North Texas examining the key events in U.S. history in the second half of the nineteenth century.


The institutes covered topics central to courses in U.S. and Texas history, including the growth of sectional conflict and the Civil War; the effects of Reconstruction on the political, economic, and social life of the nation; western expansion; industrialization and urbanization; and the impact of reforms and third-party movements in the late nineteenth century. Content was aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), with particular emphasis on newly added or revised standards.

The institute emphasized close interaction with scholars, the examination of primary sources, and the development of effective pedagogical strategies and engaging assignments and activities. The programs were designed ultimately to enhance teachers' mastery of the subjects they teach and to improve students' performance on state assessments. Teachers received books and other instructional materials.


The institute faculty featured some of the leading scholars in Texas and the nation, including H.W. Brands (The University of Texas at Austin), Albert S. Broussard (Texas A&M University), Erika Bsumek (The University of Texas at Austin), Orville Vernon Burton (University of Illinois), Randolph B. Campbell (University of North Texas), George Forgie (The University of Texas at Austin), Heather Cox Richardson (University of Massachusetts Amherst), and Juliet E.K. Walker (The University of Texas at Austin).

Educational specialists from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the National Archives and Records Administration also served on the institute faculty, providing participants with facsimiles of historic documents that support the teaching of U.S. history.

Program Resources

View a video of a faculty lecture from the institute:

Locations and Schedules

June 8–11DentonThe University of North TexasSchedule
June 15–18San AntonioTrinity UniversitySchedule

More information can be found in the institutes' final report.

Sponsors and partners

Program co-sponsors included Trinity University and the University of North Texas. Program partners included the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives and the Institute of Texan Cultures.

The institute was made possible with major funding from a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Questions about Teacher Institutes

Call 512.440.1991 or email

2008 Denton Institute Participants
Participants gather on the University of North Texas campus.
Randolph Campbell Workshop Group
Randolph B. Campbell (University of North Texas) leads a primary source workshop in Denton.
2008 San Antonio Institute Participants
Participants gather on the campus of Trinity University in San Antonio.