American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

David Jaffee, 1954-2017

Published February 22, 2017

It is difficult to come up with an American Social History Project effort in the last twenty years that David Jaffee did not have a hand in. The number of ASHP/CML projects in which he participated is startling and only outdone by their variety. His vast historical knowledge, expertise as a teacher, and insight into the ways digital media was reshaping instruction and inquiry (all of which are summarized so well on the tribute page set up by his home institution, the Bard Graduate Center) influenced the first applications of our Who Built America? CD-ROMs in college courses in the mid-1990s—and shaped the subsequent conception and implementation of our nationwide New Media Classroom: Narrative, Inquiry, and Technology in the U.S. History Survey faculty development seminars. Always simpatico with ASHP's approach to visual evidence as resource and documentation, his pioneering scholarship about material and visual culture refined the thinking behind our Learning to Look: Visual Evidence and the U.S. Past seminars. And, for the last six years, his multiple roles as principal faculty, mentor, and lecturer enhanced our NEH summer institutes on the visual culture of the Civil War. Then there were the numerous digital projects in which he played a crucial part as a coordinator, researcher, or writer, from Investigating U.S. History, to Picturing U.S. History: An Interactive Resource for Teaching with Visual Evidence, to History Matters: The U.S. History Survey on the Web. And the third edition of our Who Built America? was so greatly improved by his astutely chosen and beautifully interpreted work as co-visual editor of the two-volume textbook.

In short, we would not be what we are without David. And what a voluminous listing of his ASHP projects cannot convey is the pleasure of his company, his comradeship, his insights and observations, and the humor and generosity he brought to every endeavor.

The American Antiquarian Society has established a fellowship in his honor, The David Jaffee Fellowship in Visual and Material Culture. The fellowship will support the study and use of visual and material culture in the pursuit of research on all aspects of American history before 1900 by a scholar in residence at AAS.

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