Category Archives: teaching

The Princeton Guide to Historical Research

In spring 2021, Princeton University Press will publish my book, The Princeton Guide to Historical Research, a greatly expanded version of my teaching website,

For more on the series in which the book will appear, see: Peter Dougherty and Barbara Tonetti, “Skills for Scholars The New Tools of the Trade,” Princeton University Press (blog), August 18, 2020,

Often is heard a discouraging word

Larry Cebula has posted an “Open Letter to My Students: No, You Cannot be a Professor,” explaining that “The reason you are not going to be a professor is because that job is going away, and yet doctoral programs continue to produce as many new Ph.D.s as ever. It is a simple calculation of odds–you are not going to win the lottery, you are not going to be struck by a meteorite, you are not going to be a professor. All of these things will happen to someone, somewhere, but none of them will happen to you.”

(h/t Dan Cohen)
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Problematic History Textbooks May Return to Virginia

I am quoted in Hattie Brown Garrow, “Problematic History Textbooks May Return to Virginia,” Virginian-Pilot, 22 September 2011.

The lede: “Thumbing through two elementary history texts this summer, Zachary Schrag spotted what he described as dubious quotations, misleading images and maps depicting inaccurate borders. His list of errors – including a reference to the ‘United States Navel Academy’ – fills nearly four pages.”

For the full list, see My comments on Five Ponds Press revised drafts.

My comments on Five Ponds Press revised drafts

In 2010, historians found dozens of errors in two textbooks published by Five Ponds Press and being used in Virginia public schools.

Five Ponds has drafted new editions of the offending texts: Our Virginia: Past and Present (for grade 4) and Our America: To 1865 (grades 5 and 6).

Not only has the press hired some historians as consultants this time, but review copies have been put on display at eight universities around the state, including Mason. I reviewed these drafts, and the new editions seem to have fewer gross errors than the first editions. They do have some odd emphases–Andrew Jackson and his rivals do not appear in the US history text–but these are more attributable to the Virginia Standards of Learning than to decisions by the text authors.

I did assemble the following list of errors, which I have sent to the Virginia Department of Education. The department is accepting comments through August 31
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