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About Us

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

Since 2002, more than 2,100 rising high school juniors, seniors, and college freshmen have attended the Pre-College Program in American History. 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 transferable college credit for their work in the 3-week course.

Also, in 2002, NIAHD began the Program in Material Culture & Public History and each NIAHD class is open to all William & Mary students. The certificate program 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 the academic year. 

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

Almost 400 W&M students and visiting 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.

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