The National History Academy Program

What if you had the opportunity, not just to learn American history, but to live it?

Spend your summer walking in the footsteps of leaders who helped define and shape the American story, like former Presidents, civil rights leaders, and soldiers who fought for the birth and survival of the nation. See and learn about seminal documents that shaped our history from subject matter experts and master teachers. Get behind-the-scenes access to historic sites no other program can provide.

What if you could do all of these things, and more, with like-minded people?

The National History Academy is a life-changing experience for high school students with an interest in American history.

This 5-week Academy offers a unique blend of formal and informal learning with opportunities for first-hand experiences at the nation’s premier historic landmarks in Washington, DC, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The program will explore the extraordinary events and leaders of American history from pre-colonial times to the 21st century with a special emphasis on the century of extraordinary change from 1765 to 1865. This was the period when the idea of America took shape and when this idea survived the trauma of Civil War.

At the same time, the Academy will focus on major themes—everyday life in the American colonies; the principles of liberty and equality embodied in America’s founding documents; the divisive and decisive debate over slavery; the transformation of the national economy through the industrial and transportation revolutions; and the social and cultural impact of the struggle for civil rights.

The Nation’s Capital Region is the only place in the country that can offer significant historic sites covering key events over the whole span of American history.

The National History Academy by the numbers:

  • 35 Days
  • 100 Student Scholars
  • 6 Master Teachers
  • 12 Teaching Assistants
  • 42 Historic Sites
  • 7 Keynote Lectures
  • 1 Volunteer Day

The National History Academy is hosted at Foxcroft School, a premier student-centered private secondary school campus in Middleburg, Virginia conveniently located within driving distance of many important historic sites.

The Academy will offer an inspiring and engaging learning environment. Each week, the students will take 3-4 trips to historic sites. On classroom days, the Academy will use the case method-based History of American Democracy curriculum developed by Harvard Business School Professor David Moss. This curriculum allows students to engage more deeply with the history they are studying as they explore sites.

Students will read primary source documents and engage in rich debate and discussion about significant periods in American history. The Academy will employ a hybrid of formal and informal learning methods through case discussion, reading texts, watching films and documentaries, and lectures by noted scholars. All of this will be further explored through collaborative learning experiences during the immersive on-site visits.

During the opening week of the Academy, the students will hear David Rubenstein, financier, business philanthropist and television host, speak about the Magna Carta and the Charters of Freedom at the National Archives and get a personal tour of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History led by Director Emeritus Brent Glass. Harvard Business School Professor David Moss will teach the Academy’s first case, on James Madison, at Madison’s home, Montpelier.

Throughout the five-week program, students will actively explore history by hiking and biking on historic trails and by learning historical building trades of the 18th and 19th centuries. Among the many other unique experiences during the summer will be a filmmaking workshop and screening of the movie Gettysburg with the film’s director Ron Maxwell, and an archaeological dig at the site of the original Jamestown settlement.

The whole camp experience is designed to produce three learning outcomes:

  • To understand the foundations of American democracy
  • To deepen the appreciation and understanding of the American experience
  • To encourage civic engagement and citizenry