NEH Grant Supports Early U.S. History Web Site
History professor Pat
Cleary capped her interest in the 18th-century American entrepreneur
Elizabeth Murray with the award of a National Endowment for the
Humanities grant of $114,091, which with cost sharing totals $178,221
to develop a Web site based on the businesswoman's life and the
records she left behind.
"I was absolutely delighted to receive
the grant," said Cleary, a member of the university since 1989.
"I feel all the effort and years of working on the project on
my own when I was doing research and writing my book Elizabeth
Murray: A Woman's Pursuit of Independence in 18th Century America
in 2000 as well as my collaboration with colleagues at CSULB
and teachers in the Long Beach Unified School District was entirely
Working with co-director/history
lecturer Sean Smith, and teachers and scholars from LBUSD and
around the country, Cleary will be developing "The Elizabeth Murray
Project: An Educational Website for Early American History." The
project will apply Internet technology to create a history resource
Web site for teachers and students. Using biography as a springboard
for addressing the evolution of the 18th-century Atlantic world,
the site focuses on the changing roles of women and the shifting
political, economic and cultural identities that preceded and
informed the American Revolution. The site will feature an online
archive of otherwise unavailable primary sources, templates of
critical questions for document and Web site analysis and models
of lesson plans for 5th, 8th and 11th graders, as well as university
"The Elizabeth Murray Project thus combines serious scholarship and technology in a way that promotes historical literacy and critical-thinking skills," said Cleary. "Rotating examples of student work, online discussions of pedagogy and early American history, and the ongoing development of new curriculum materials will, we hope, make the site a valuable one. The lesson plans, any answer keys that are developed, and access to primary sources will be available to anyone with Internet access."
Cleary's work also is on display in
a traveling museum exhibit titled "Enterprising Women: 250 Years
of American Business," which features Murray in a show that is
at the Los Angeles Public Library and runs through Sept. 19; the
show spotlights 40 entrepreneurial women in American history,
from Elizabeth Murray to Ruth Handler, the inventor of Barbie,
as well as current moguls like Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey.
Murray's life was equally remarkable outside the realm of business, according to Cleary.
"She has an incredible
life story with wild midnight rides. She housed the British soldiers
who were involved in the Boston Massacre as well as saw her home
turned into the first headquarters of the Continental Army," Cleary
said. "She had both sides of the American Revolution under
her roof at one point or another. She was geographically mobile,
living in England, Scotland, North Carolina and Boston. She was
economically mobile. She was a border crosser, both in the figurative
and literal sense, both politically and economically."
She thinks one reason for her recognition is Murray's special appeal.
"I like to think of her as a kind of female Benjamin Franklin," she said. "She was a self-made entrepreneurial woman of the 18th century. She's not famous for being married to George Washington or John Adams. There is almost nothing out there on the women of pre-Revolutionary America who weren't president's wives. She works as an appealing, ordinary entrepreneurial American."