Summer Field School in the Methods of Architectural History

Architectural History Field School

Each summer, the National Institute of American History and Democracy offers History 406-01/590-01: Architectural History Field School to all undergraduates, graduates, and those with a special interest in early American architecture.  The course is open to current W&M students as well as non-W&M students.

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The Architectural History Summer Field School is a five-week that introduces students to the methods used in the investigation and recording of historic buildings.  The program is intended to help students distinguish the form, fabrication, and assembly of materials and building elements and understand their chronology. They will learn how to apply field evidence to answer larger questions concerning architectural and social history.

Following several introductory lectures on building technology and architectural features, students will study structures in Williamsburg and the surrounding Tidewater region. Tentatively, the fourth week will be spent documenting buildings in Alexandria, Virginia in preparation for the 2018 Vernacular Architecture Forum Conference that will be held in that city. In the last week, students will convert their fieldwork into CAD drawings and write site reports.

This class will meet four or five days a week from 10:00 to 4:30. It will require travel (in a van) and some physical exercise. Students must be enrolled for the course through the College of William and Mary. For more information about the nature of the course, please email Dr. Carl Lounsbury at or call (757) 870-7599. 

How to register
Current W&M Students

Students currently enrolled as W&M degree-seeking students may register for History 406-01 (undergraduate level) or 590-01 (graduate level) as they would for any other summer session course at W&M using Banner Self-Service.

Non-W&M Students

W&M and NIAHD welcome students from other universities to enroll in the Architectural History Summer Field School.  To register for the course, prespective students would apply as "Non-Degree Seeking Students".  Details on how to apply may be found by visitng the Summer Registration page and expanding the link for "Non-Degree Seeking Students".

For questions about the application or registration process, contact the Registrar's Office, 757-221-2800 or email.  For questions about the course curriculum, contact Dr. Carl Lounsbury.

Financial Considerations

The field school carries 3 hours of academic credit.  Students pay applicable in-state or out-of-state William & Mary tuition.  Tuition rates for summer sessions may be found here.


Students are not required to live on campus, but space in W&M dorms may be available for registered students.  You may apply for housing through the Office of Residence Life.


Students have the option of providing their own meals or taking individual meals on campus.  A formal meal plan is not required. There are also many restaurants within walking distance of the William & Mary campus.