Thomas Jefferson:

Personality Character, and Public Life


Institute Biographies

“As his character was somewhat labyrinthian, so his mind was bewildering in its range and complexity.” –Merrill Peterson

“Different versions of him as both hero and villain are loose among us.” –Joseph Ellis

Peter H. Gibbon, Institute Director

The Director of the Institute, Dr. Peter Gibbon, is a Senior Research Fellow at Boston University’s School of Education. He is the author of a book about the role of the hero in American history, A Call to Heroism: Renewing America’s Vision of Greatness. The book analyzes the impact of revisionist history on America’s psyche, reassesses the presidents on Mount Rushmore, and synthesizes his observations during his visits to classrooms all over America, talking to students and teachers.

Gibbon has been interviewed on radio and television, has written articles about the founding fathers and other figures in American history for newspapers and magazines, as well as essays on education for professional journals. He is currently studying the changing nature of American history education and the tension between the goals of realism and civic inspiration. He gave a talk on this topic at the May 2003 White House Forum on History, Civics and Service Education. He is particularly interested in how the private life intersects with the public life and recently spoke on this subject at the National Council for History Education. In the summer of 2005, Gibbon led a three-week NEH Institute at Boston Univeristy: “The Legacy of George Washington: Myths, Symbols, and Reality.

In public and private schools, Gibbon has taught courses in American history, European history, anthropology, and English, American, and Russian literature. He is the former head of the Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York. He studied colonial American history under Gordon Wood and John Shy, and the history of education under Lawrence Cremin and Diane Ravitch. He has a B.A. from Harvard College, a Candidate in Philosophy from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from Columbia Teachers College.

R. B. Bernstein, Institute Consulant

R. B. Bernstein is most recently the author of Thomas Jefferson (Oxford University Press, 2003), which was nominated for the Bancroft, Parkman, and Pulitzer Prizes. Bernstein has also published a biography of Jefferson for younger readers, Thomas Jefferson: The Revolution of Ideas. An adjunct professor of law at New York Law School since 1991, he has published many books and articles on the founding period, has served as an historical adviser to documentary film projects and to the history/civics curriculum project "Crossroads," and has curated historical exhibitions for the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress. Two of his earlier books -- Are We to Be a Nation? The Making of the Constitution and Amending America: If We Love the Constitution So Much, Why Do We Keep Trying to Change It? -- have been nominated for the Pulitzer, Bancroft, and Parkman Prizes. Bernstein is a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School and has done graduate work at New York University.

Joan W. Musbach, Master Teacher to the Institute

Recently retired from over four decades of teaching high school and middle school American History, Joan Musbach is currently supervising social studies student teachers for Webster University and presenting workshops for teachers of American History. She has served as a consultant and presenter on several TAH grants and was honored by the Gilder Lehrman Foundation as Teacher of the Year in Missouri. Musbach received her B. A. in History and Political Science from the University of Kansas and Masters degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Musbach’s publications include articles for the OAH Magazine of History on teaching about the Great Depression and curriculum for the Lewis and Clark National Bicentennial Exhibition.

Peter Wright, Coordinator/Participant Liaison

Peter Wright will serve as Project Coordinator/Participant Liaison for the Institute. Originally a participant in the 2005 Institute George Washington and His Legacy: Myths, Symbols, and Reality, he served as Project Coordinator and Master Teacher for the 2009 Institute as well as Program Coordinator for this program’s Institutes held in the summer of 2006 and 2008. Currently, Wright is an educational consultant, behavioral and school placement specialist. Prior to this, he was Director of Guidance and College Placement at Nazareth Academy in Wakefield, Massachusetts. A long time classroom teacher, Wright taught AP U.S. History, AP American Government, and Psychology at Malden Catholic High School in Malden, Massachusetts for nine years. Wright received his B.S. in Political Science/History from Springfield College, an M.A.T. in Secondary Education from Simmons College, and as a James Madison Fellow (1997) completed an M.A.L.S. degree in History from Simmons College. Additionally, he has an Ed.S. in Secondary School Counseling from the University of Sarasota and is in the process of completing his Ed.S. in Mental Health Counseling at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

NEH Application Instructions
2008: Participants Final Projects
2013: Participants Final Projects

Last Updated 8/24/2013