Category Archives: Congressional Briefings

The National History Center’s Congressional Briefings are designed to provide historical context and perspective on current issues for policy makers and members of their staff. The speakers reflect upon historical events and developments that have influenced the evolution of current policies and provide knowledge pertinent to the consideration of policy alternatives.

NHC Congressional Briefing
Vaccine Development: Historical Perspectives

As everyone knows, Covid-19 has struck millions, paralyzed economies, and upended the lives of countless people around the globe.  The race for a vaccine is on, absorbing vast sums of public and private funding and the energies of a vast number of scientists.  The current search for a medical solution to Covid-19 is a constant on cable television, the internet, and daily newspapers.  This National History Center Congressional Briefing steps back from the current moment to offer reflections on the history and usage of vaccines in the past century.

Click here to watch the briefing.


Theresa MacPhail is an assistant professor at Stevens Institute of Technology. She received her BA in Journalism from the University of New Hampshire, an MA in Social Sciences and Humanities at New York University, and a PhD in medical anthropology from the University of California – Berkeley. Her research centers on the culture of public health, the production of scientific knowledge, networks of expertise, information sharing, and everyday lived experiences of epidemiologists, microbiologists, biomedical scientists, and medical practitioners. She is the author of The Viral Network: A Pathography of the H1N1 Influenza Pandemic, published by Cornell University Press in 2014, and a medical thriller entitled The Eye of the Virus.  She is currently researching the rise of allergies in the United States and China.

Thomas Ewing is a professor of history at Virginia Tech and the associate dean for graduate studies and research at the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. He is the author of The Teachers of Stalinism: Policy, Practice, and Power in Soviet Schools in the 1930s (2002) and co-editor of Viral Networks: Connecting Digital Humanities and Medical History (2018). He is currently researching the so-called “Russian Influenza” (1889-1890), coordinates the Data in Social Context program at Virginia Tech which sustains an interdisciplinary approach of data analytics, computational skills, and critical thinking in the humanities and social sciences, and has run NEH-funded workshops on the 1918 Spanish Influenza and on Images and Texts in Medical history.


Katrin Schultheiss is an associate professor and chair of the Department of History at The George Washington Universality. A medical and modern European historian, she is the author of Bodies and Souls: Politics and the Professionalization of Nursing in France, 1880-1922 (Harvard University Press) and is currently writing cultural and intellectual study of the 19th century French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot.

NHC Webinar on Protest and Civil Unrest in the United States: A Historical Exploration

The events of the past several weeks have brought political protest, police brutality, and civil unrest back into the headlines. Activists, politicians, and political pundits daily offer observations and analysis on cable and broadcast news, Facebook and Twitter, and newspaper op-ed pages.

As the American Historical Association has repeatedly stated and as all historians know, “Everything has a history.”  In this inaugural webinar, the National History Center brings together five historians of 20th Century America to address the historical background surrounding the current crisis in the United States. 

On June 11, 2020, the National History Center hosted its inaugural web session on “Protest and Civil Unrest: A Historical Exploration.”  That session featured

Chad Williams (Brandeis University)
Marcia Chatelain (Georgetown University)
Michael Flamm (Ohio Wesleyan)
Cheryl Greenberg (Trinity College)
Thomas Sugrue (New York University) 
Eric Arnesen (George Washington University)

You can watch the 90 minute panel with this link. 

Recent Congressional Briefing Speaker Recieves Book Award from Organzation of American Historians

Anand Toprani, U.S. Naval War College and recent National History Center talk participant, received the 2020 Richard W. Leopold Prize from the Organization of American Historians. The Leopold prize is given every two years for the best book on foreign policy, military affairs, historical activities of the federal government, documentary histories, or biography written by a U.S. government historian or federal contract historian. See Press Release Here.