About Us

A Jamestown interpreter speaks to Pre-College students during one of their visits to the historic site.

The National Institute of American History & Democracy (NIAHD) began offering classes in the Spring of 2002 as a partnership between William & Mary and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, with an initial start-up grant from two Congressional awards. NIAHD uses an interdisciplinary approach to teach students about American history, material culture, and public history.

Since 2002, more than 1,900 rising high school juniors, seniors, and rising college freshmen have attended The Pre-College Program in American History. During the summer, Pre-College students come from across the United States, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and Asia to learn about history where it happened. Students earn 4 hours of transferable college credit for their work in the 3-week course.

The Program in Material Culture & Public History has been open to all William & Mary students since 2002, and includes courses in Public History, an Internship, a Field School, and 4 additional classes that focus on aspects of American History. Interested W&M students may enroll at any time during their undergraduate or graduate studies. 

NIAHD opened the Program in Material Culture & Public History to undergraduate and graduate students from other colleges & universities in 2005. Visiting Students must apply for the program, and will study on campus at William & Mary for one semester or an entire academic year.

More than 300 W&M and visiting undergraduate and graduate students have participated in the Program in Material Culture & Public History. Students gain hands-on experience that prepares them for careers in education, museums, and other areas of public history. Enhanced research, writing, and critical thinking skills are also invaluable to undergraduates interested in careers in business, law, and STEM fields.