Browse Exhibits (42 total)

Virginia Higher Education and the Vietnam War

Between 1955 and 1975, the United States, South Vietnam and its allies engaged in a war against North Vietnam over the future of the Southeast Asian country. The war was met with criticism over the initial justification and the American public’s discontent would only grow as more men were sent overseas to fight in this seemingly endless war. When the draft began to see a dramatic increase in use, mass protests, demonstrations and movements would begin to rise in opposition to the draft as well as the conflict itself. Due to the nature of the draft targeting younger abled bodied men, many college-age students began to get involved with politics in an effort to show their disdain for the draft and the divisive war. However, these movements and stances would be met with their own criticisms since their actions constituted a challenge to the status quo, but would ultimately change the way college students are able to partake in free speech today.

Urban Development and Transportation


The explanation behind our modern-day public spaces lies in the urban development and transportation policies from the 1930s onward. The focus of the research for this project is urban development and transportation policy in the Washington DC Metro area from the 1930s to the 1990s. Why was public transportation not viewed as a viable option for the planning of suburbs in the late twentieth century. And if public transportation was viewed as a viable option, how come the efforts of the time did not succeed?

The scholarly work concerning urban development and transportation has a broad range of pre-existing research, but there is not a significant amount specifically on suburbs in the DC metro area. Due to this lack of data, this project will use the primary information from other suburbs and urban centers in order to draw conclusions. The centralization of government, the suburban sprawl and highways, environmentalism and sustainability, and the effects of the free market are the important themes in the existing scholarship.

Rising population in suburbs and major urban centers coupled with a lack viable public transportation is only furthering the impending environmental catastrophe. Recognizing the history of urban development and transportation is the foundation before going forward to order to transition to more sustainable policies that favor the community rather than the individual.

Women in Taverns

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Taverns were at the forefront of the American Revolution in terms of the spread of ideas and motivation throughout the colonists. Taverns provided food, drink, and comfort for travelers to the courthouses and cities. The founding fathers played important roles in the taverns in Boston and Philadelphia. However, women are forgotten in this seemingly masculine environment.

The role of women during this time focuses on the maintenance of the home and family. Most women that received land deeds during the 18thcentury were likely widows, yet many were also mothers and daughters that worked in taverns, public houses, inns, and shops. For instances, in Petersburg, Virginia, a woman named Ann Forbes, “held the town record for liquor sale violations” and about 30% of all violations and failures to obtain liquor license were by a woman.[1]This raises the interesting question about how many women were active participants to local economies and governments. Historic Taverns are knowns as breeding ground for revolutionary thoughts as well as the operation of governments.

A complete history of women in taverns is important to the understanding of cultural traditions and the work of women in a public setting other than a mother, wife, or daughter, but as a businesswoman. This research will explore the way in which females ran taverns and the relevance of their establishments in society. The analysis of women in the workplace would provide insight to the social constructs between genders and the female influence on public life and drinking.

[1]Lebsock, Suzanne. The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town,

1874-1860. New York: W.W. Norton &, 1990. 177.



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Civil War Memory and Education: Entering the 20th Century


            With the signing of the Constitution, those who would later become known as the ‘Founding Fathers’ knew they were placing a great responsibility in the hands of American citizens through the creation of a democratic republic. Thomas Jefferson went on to root his legacy in the field of education through the creation of the University of Virginia, hoping that this institution would provide future Americans with the means to become proper citizens equipped with everything necessary to guide their own futures. Initially, there were contentions over how to approach education as a means of preserving the republic: was there a need to educate the public as a means of safeguarding against elites who would corrupt government and political power to serve themselves (as those such as Jefferson suggested), or was there a need to educate the public as a means of cultivating leaders while also seeking to calm or control a self-interested and fickle public?[1] However, while ideological differences over institutionalized education were only getting started, it became clear that “over the course of the eighteenth century, more and more people came to believe that children were born neither good nor bad but were malleable. Developing adults therefore required proper socialization and education. Creating the right kind of schools took on a heightened importance because external influences shaped inner character.”[2]

            What exactly is meant by the right kind of schools? Johann Neem argues that the types of schools that took shape in the United States were ‘democracy’s schools.’ He goes on to explain this by saying that America’s schools were “democracy’s schools in four important ways: they were local in origin; they promoted a curriculum designed to prepare people for citizenship and self-culture; disagreements over public schools become a part of democratic politics; and citizens struggled to balance the needs of the broader community with the rights of religious and other minorities in a diverse society.”[3] Through this frame of reference, a larger picture of the American education system comes into focus – one where it can be seen as an active and institutionalized means of creating the nation’s culture by shaping the minds and understanding of future generations.

            When the United States found itself at war in 1861, very few could have predicted how long the struggle for defining the Nation’s history and culture would continue after the fighting stopped. What Americans would later come to realize is that education and the fight over historical memory can perhaps be just as important in shaping their culture and society through times of peace as the resultant conditions brought by times of war.

[1] Johann Neem, Democracy’s Schools: The Rise of Public Education in America Baltimore, (Maryland: John Hopkins University Press, 2017) 8.

[2] Ebd, 24

[3] Ebd, 2.

The Founding of GMU


George Mason University was not always George Mason University. It was originally a part of The University of Virginia. In 1972 George Mason College, as it was known then, separated from The University of Virginia and became George Mason University. The main questions I had with this was: who was involved in the GMC seperation from UVA and why was it necessary?

I first dive into the current socio/political climate and it's effects on education during the time of The Seperation. See The Current Climate for more information.

I will then talk about the details of The Seperation and will also touch upon the student's reaction to the news. See The Seperation for more information.

From my research I found that during the first six years of GMU, the university witnessed three different presidents. See The First Three for more information.

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The History Behind the Krasnow Institute

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Sheldon (aka. Shelley) Krasnow was named after the Krasnow Insitute for Advanced Study--that now stands as a building that mainly operates for Natural Science Majors. This exhibit exists to test the following hypothesis: If Krasnow’s purpose for this building was fulfilled, then this building should be a well known resource for students. By doing this, the history of Shelley Krasnow will be explored along with the development of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study in order to know if Krasnow and George Mason University’s purpose for this building was fulfilled or not. Then the purpose and how far the modern usage of this building is from the intended usage of the building will be compared in order to help readers understand the true usage of this building to hopefully gain another resource towards academics. 

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Clarence J. Robinson and the Robinson Professors Program


            Clarence J. Robinson was a prominent Northern Virginia businessman who was highly involved in the early development of George Mason University. As the namesake of both Robinson Hall and the Robinson Professors program, his legacy remains an integral part of the university’s culture and reputation. Robinson served as the Chairman of George Mason College’s Advisory Board from 1964-1970, when the young institution was still a branch of the University of Virginia, and contributed in many ways towards the school’s growth. Among his most important contributions was the donation of half his estate, valued at $5 million, to Mason upon his death in 1983. Before his death, Robinson is said to have explicitly conveyed to George W. Johnson (president of the university and a close friend of Robinson’s) that he wanted his donation not to be used on the university’s buildings, but on its people. Robinson’s donation ultimately allowed for the establishment of the Robinson Professors program in 1984 by President Johnson, which to this day serves to attract distinguished faculty to the school and to elevate its standards of education and scholarship.

            While the Robinson Professors program has shown itself to be a lasting and important institution for the university, it did not arise without opposition. From the program’s inception, President Johnson decided to use Robinson’s donation funds exclusively to bring in new, big-name faculty members to the university; however, some disgruntled university members felt that the funds should instead be used to support existing faculty.1 Robinson intended for his donation to go towards the people that would build the university up, after all, and it is possible that either avenue could have satisfied his wishes.

            The goal of this research project is to evaluate the effectiveness of the Robinson Professors program, both in terms of advancing the university’s mission and fulfilling the wishes of its benefactor. A variety of sources are considered in order to gain a better understanding of Clarence J. Robinson’s vision for Mason, and to identify the benefits and drawbacks of this innovative program as it was set up by President Johnson.


[1] “A Dedication to the Teaching of Undergraduates: The Introduction of the Robinson Professors Program,” George Mason University: A History. George Mason University Libraries, 2020.

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Mason Necks Transformation into a Wildlife Refuge

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In 1969 Mason Neck became the first national wildlife refuge and became federally protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge was originally 845 acres encompassing the bottom left of the peninsula. In 2010 the refuge was renamed the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge and now encompasses 2,277 acres. The 1960s did not have the same understanding of the importance of preserving living history in its natural state. Preserving living history and wildlife is a major reason why refuges are created today, with our current understanding of ecology. If that’s not the reason the refuge was created, it's important to analyze what caused Mason Neck, specifically, to become the location of the first wildlife refuge.

Using the findings of other historians and scientists helped establish three main motives that led to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create the Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge. This exhibit analyzes those three catalysts: they were the proposed residential development Kings Landing that would have absorbed the majority of the peninsula, Mason Neck resident Elizabeth Hartwell's fight towards the preservation of Mason Neck's bald eagle population, and the behavioral needs of bald eagles. These three main motives establish the start of preserving land in an act of environmental conservation. This is why the history of the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge is important for scholars to analyze and interpret.


George W. Johnson, George Mason University's Most Renowned President

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George Mason University's Johnson Center, named after George W. Johnson, a notable president in the development of the institute, is looked at in terms of his accomplishments, as well as his overall impact on the genereal atmosphere of campus life. 

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