Publication Date

September 1, 1993

The newly combined National History Education Network/History Teaching Alliance office opened this summer at the University of Tulsa with Christine L. Compston as its first director. Last spring, the organizations participating in the two K–12 history education projects agreed to combine resources and establish a single office at the University under the auspices of the history department. Dr. Compston was subsequently hired through a joint search conducted by the organizations and the Tulsa history department.

Dr. Compston brings to the position an impressive record in both teaching and research. She received her BA from Mount Holyoke College, did additional work at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Exeter, and then earned the MA and the PhD in history at the University of New Hampshire. Her dissertation on "The Serpentine Wall: Judicial Decision-making in Supreme Court Cases Involving Aid to Sectarian Schools, 1945–1983" reflects her primary interest in U.S. Constitutional and social history. Related to her research interest has been her work with Robert Mennel, University of New Hampshire, editing for publication the correspondence between Oliver Wendell Holmes and Felix Frankfurter. Her teaching experience includes both secondary (Gould Academy and Phillips Exeter Academy) and university (Clark University), and in 1991–92 she was a Fulbright Scholar with the National Council for Upper Secondary Education in Norway. But her experience is even broader—she worked on the history of Hampstead, New Hampshire as part of an architectural survey and served as the Senior Associate Archivist for the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, as the project director for the "Deciding Justice" reading/discussion program (sponsored by the New England Foundation for the Humanities), and this past year as Acting Director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Compston has been particularly active in state humanities council programs, serving in various capacities in some nine other programs, including, for example, a workshop for high school teachers on New Hampshire history. Other activities include presentations at the Museum of American Textile History and other forums and participation in the OAH Bicentennial of the Bill of Rights Speakers Bureau. Honors include membership in Phi Alpha Theta, both undergraduate and graduate scholarships and fellowships, and appointment as a Liberal Arts Fellow at Harvard Law School.

The wide range of experiences Dr. Compston brings to the position should prove invaluable in addressing the important agendas of these two projects. Although both emphasize collaboration across the profession to promote excellence in history teaching and learning in schools and other institutions, their activities are different. Newly established by the AHA and the Organization of American Historians in collaboration with twenty-eight other organizations and agencies, the Network will serve as an advocacy center for improving K–12 history education at the state level and as a clearinghouse for information on related programs, materials, and other services. One of the latter will be the History Teaching Alliance, a joint project of the AHA, the OAH, and the National Council for the Social Studies. Founded in 1985 and headquartered first at the AHA and then at the University of Florida, the HTA brings together K–12 teachers, college and university faculty, and public historians in collegially designed, community-based collaborative content-based seminars. Over the past eight years, the HTA has sponsored sixty-nine such programs in thirty states involving 1,500 participants. Dr. Compston looks forward to the support and assistance of AHA members in both of these important initiatives.

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