Reading for Teaching: A Vast Early America Book Club

How do we incorporate scholarship on early America, both old and new, into our teaching–whether that teaching happens in a K-12 classroom, on a university campus, or at a museum? In this every-other-monthly reading group, teachers come together to think collaboratively about how to engage with audiences from a broad spectrum and in a wide variety of contexts.

“Reading for Teaching” explores a wide variety of scholarly texts as possible frameworks for lectures, discussions, and other methods of approaching Vast Early America with different audiences. Each meeting focuses on a single book to be read by all and participants will be encouraged to share their expertise and experience communicating history in different venues.

The group meets on the last Thursday of every other month.  Hosted by Melissa Johnson, each session includes a guest who brings expertise in the subject area.

The application period for the current reading group has closed but if you are interested in participating in future iterations of the workshop, please contact us directly at

The next meeting is scheduled for October 28, 2021, 7:00 pm ET, and will explore Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution by Michael D. Hattem (published by the Yale University Press in 2020) with guest Rachel Engl (Lehigh University).

Yale University Press is offering a 25% discount to any member of the “Reading for Teaching” group who purchases the book directly from the Press. Please contact the OI at for a code and instructions.

Rachel Engl received her PhD in 2019 from Lehigh University. Her dissertation “America’s First Band of Brothers: Friendship &, Camaraderie within the Continental Army during the Revolutionary Era,” explores the lived experience of the men who fought the war by uncovering the significance of relationships they developed amongst themselves throughout the conflict and consequently sustained into the years of the early republic. She is a member of the Upper School faculty at Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Melissa Ann Johnson is a historian of women, religion, and communication in early America. Her first book project focuses on watchfulness and women’s gossip in seventeenth-century New England. She is also working on two other projects, one on domestic servitude in colonial New England and another on deception and imposters in the Atlantic world. She received her PhD from the University of Michigan in 2019 and currently teaches history courses at community colleges in Oregon and in Washington state.