In June 2005, thirty-eight Texas teachers attended a four-day professional development institute organized by Humanities Texas examining Galveston’s history and its contemporary relevance.
The institute covered Galveston’s history as an immigration port during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries when the city became known as the “Ellis Island of the West.” 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 Alwyn Barr (Texas Tech University), John B. Boles (Rice University), H.W. Brands (The University of Texas at Austin), Steven Klineberg (Rice University), and David G. McComb (Colorado State University).
Educational specialists from the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, the Institute of Texan Cultures, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the Rosenberg Library also served on the institute faculty, providing participants with facsimiles of historic documents that support the teaching of U.S. history.
Program co-sponsors included the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, the National Archives and Records Administration, Galveston’s Rosenberg Library, the Texas Seaport Museum, the Galveston Historical Foundation, The University of Texas Medical Branch, 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 and additional support from the Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund.