American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning


“History is bunk!”

So said Henry Ford in 1916. He was wrong. For most Americans, the past is interesting and important – it’s “History” that is the problem. Too often History is an irrelevant school subject to be endured for a year or two, a bunch of names and dates quickly forgotten.

History means something different for the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning (ASHP/CML). It’s a place to investigate, full of surprising discoveries. And it’s not just one story; good history involves the telling of many stories: often conflicting, sometimes troubling, and frequently inspiring. For nearly forty years, we’ve written books, produced documentaries, created digital and online programming, and organized activities that challenge the traditional ways people learn history. Informed by the latest scholarship, we make the past, and the lives of the working people and “ordinary” Americans who shaped it, vivid and meaningful.

Based at The City University of New York Graduate Center, ASHP/CML has partnered with numerous historical and educational organizations to produce print, visual, and multimedia materials that explore the richly diverse social and cultural history of the United States. We also develop curricula and lead professional development seminars that help teachers in New York City and across the nation to use the latest scholarship, technology, and active learning methods in their classrooms. ASHP/CML supervises The Graduate Center’s New Media Lab, which facilitates student and faculty digital projects and research.

Our History

Founded in 1981 by the distinguished labor historian Herbert Gutman and Stephen Brier, ASHP/CML has gained an international reputation in the fields of public history and history education. With a staff that includes scholars, artists, media producers, and educators, ASHP/CML’s Who Built America? books and documentaries, digital and online projects (including our podcast), and our seminars combine rigorous humanities content with innovative methods of presentation. Cited as a model for public humanities programming, ASHP/CML’s projects and programs have received numerous grants and awards.

In 1990 the American Social History Project became an official research center at The City University of New York. Known as the Center for Media and Learning, it has been affiliated with The Graduate Center, The City University’s doctorate-granting institution, since 1996. The organization is now most commonly known as ASHP/CML, combining our public and university identities. 

American Social History Productions, Inc. serves as our not-for-profit subsidiary and holds the copyright to all text, documentary, and multimedia materials produced by the American Social History Project.