Past Institutes

Understanding Congress

On October 12, 2017, Humanities Texas held a one-day teacher workshop in Austin focusing on teaching and understanding Congress.


Topics addressed included the structure and operations of the U.S. House of Representatives, milestones in U.S. Senate history, and the contemporary Senate. 

Forty-four teachers attended the program. The workshop emphasized close interaction with scholars, the examination of primary sources, and the development of effective pedagogical strategies and engaging assignments and activities. Content aligned with the TEKS. Teachers received books and other instructional materials.


Workshop faculty included Michelle Chin (The Archer Center), Charles Flanagan (National Archives), Donald Ritchie (Historian Emeritus of the U.S. Senate), and Sean Theriault (The University of Texas at Austin).

Program Resources

The workshops introduced teachers to Congress Creates the Bill of Rights, an educational resource developed by the National Archives in collaboration with Humanities Texas. The resource consists of three elements: an eBook, a mobile app for tablets, and online resources for teachers and students. Each provides a distinct way of exploring how the First Congress proposed amendments to the Constitution in 1789. 

The workshops also introduced teachers to Representing Congress: Clifford K. Berryman's Political Cartoons, an educational resource developed by the National Archives in collaboration with Humanities Texas consisting of an online eBook with attached lesson plans.

Location and Schedule

The workshop took place at the Byrne-Reed House on October 12, 2017. Download the workshop schedule.


The workshop was made possible with major funding from the State of Texas, with ongoing support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Questions about Teacher Institutes

Call 512.440.1991 or email


Michelle Chin, former congressional staffer and academic director at The Archer Center, speaks with workshop participants about historical documents in Austin.

Charles Flanagan, outreach supervisor for the National Archives and Records Administration, leads a seminar discussing primary sources in Austin.
Sean M. Theriault, professor of government at The University of Texas at Austin, guides educators as they examine primary documents in Austin.
Educators participate in guided seminar during a workshop in Austin.