Welcome to Educating Harlem


Educating Harlem is a collaborative investigation into the history of education in 20th century Harlem. All of the forces that shaped education in the 20th century U.S. ran through Harlem, often in amplified form because of the particular confluence of people, ideas, and institutions in this community. Nonetheless, Harlem remains understudied in the history of education. By investigating the historical forms and meanings of education — in schools and beyond — in Harlem, we hope to offer a rich vision of the place of education in communities and the reciprocal relationships between communities and schools.

The Modern School: Hosting a Multigenerational Reunion

Educating Harlem is proud to be sponsoring a day-long event dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of Harlem’s Modern School, in cooperation with the Sugar Hill history organization While We Are Still Here and Barnard’s Harlem Semester.

The day-long event brings together many of the strands of Educating Harlem’s work over the last four years: hearing and documenting the stories of Harlem residents past and present, in conversation with scholarship on the history of education in Harlem, and supported by developing historians and history educators in the Program in History and Education and Harlem Stories classes.


Sharing our work, v1: “Case Study as Common Text”

Early 2016 brought several new opportunities to reflect on and share the work we’ve been doing in Educating Harlem. At conferences large and small, and in print, I’ve enjoyed the chance to set down on paper the ideas that have been developing through more than three years of work on this project. Over the next few weeks, I’ll post artifacts from these presentations.

First, I contributed to a History of Education Quarterly forum on teaching the history of education – more specifically, on how historians of education use case studies in their teaching. This proved a great prompt to take stock of the two Teachers College graduate courses I offer in connection with Educating Harlem (Harlem Stories: Archives and Digital Tools, and Harlem Stories: Oral History and Digital Tools). These are research practica that bring beginner and advanced historians together into a collaborative research endeavor around a common case – the history of education in Harlem.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 10.19.15 PMWhat is a case study? Isn’t all history a case study of one form or another? What strategies make for effective engagement with case studies in the classroom, for future historians, teachers, and for students in other fields? The nine authors take up these questions from an interesting variety of angles that helped me refine my own thinking about what the Harlem Stories classes are about. You can read all of the pieces here (behind a paywall); mine is here in pre-print format: “Case Study as Common Text: Collaborating In and Broadening the Reach of History of Education.”  (See also Jack Dougherty’s reflection on open review in this forum).

Thanks to HEQ editors Nancy Beadie and Joy Williamson-Lott for the invitation to join the forum.

Call for Papers



We seek to establish a scholarly community focused on investigating the history of education, broadly defined, in 20th century Harlem. We invite proposals for papers to be presented at two conferences at Teachers College. The first conference, October 10-11, 2013, will offer authors an opportunity to present works-in-progress for discussion with fellow contributors and selected senior scholars participating as discussants. Revised and completed papers will be presented at a larger public conference in October 2014.  Most or all of the finalized papers will be published as an edited volume or journal special issue. We welcome submissions from graduate students as well as junior and senior scholars, and from historians as well as those undertaking historical analysis in other social science and humanities fields.