History Center Named for Its Founder, Roy Rosenzweig

Posted: April 25, 2011 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: April 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm

By Tara Laskowski

Deborah Kaplan, Roy Rosenzweig's widow; Jack Censer, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Dan Cohen, director of the Center for History and New Media, unveiled the new sign outside the center's offices.

The Center for History and New Media (CHNM) in Mason’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) announced last week it had received enough funds to name the center after its late founder, Roy Rosenzweig.

Through the generous support of nearly 300 donors and a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, more than $1,020,000 was raised to name the center The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. The challenge grant will provide $250,000 to CHNM for reaching its goal of $750,000.

At a renaming ceremony last week, a large crowd gathered in the hall outside the center to see the new sign. Longtime friends of Rosenzweig and fellow historians Gary Kornblith of Oberlin College and Steve Brier of the City University of New York revealed a gleaming sign to the applause of the assembled.  Following remarks, the crowd moved into the center for coffee and dessert.

“In addition to his scholarship, Roy’s commitment to the department, college and university was unstinting,” says Jack Censer, CHSS dean. “Roy had more friends than anybody I’ve ever known. The center is a living legacy that will benefit future generations.”

CHNM, which was established by Rosenzweig in 1994, uses digital media and computer technology to democratize history — to incorporate multiple voices, reach diverse audiences and encourage popular participation in presenting and preserving the past.

The center’s mission is three-pronged: It develops open source software such as Zotero and Omeka, which help scholars and researchers across the globe; provides free access to primary sources and research materials to high school teachers and students; and creates digital records and archival materials for historical events such as the French Revolution, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, to name a few.

Rosenzweig, who passed away in 2007, was a leader in the field of digital history.

“The breadth and depth of the resources provided by CHNM are a direct reflection of his work,” says Dan Cohen, current CHNM director.

Rosenzweig wrote, cowrote or edited a number of award-winning books, including “Eight Hours for What We Will: Workers and Leisure in an Industrial City, 1870–1920,” “The Park and the People: A History of Central Park” (with Elizabeth Blackmar) and “The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life” (with David Thelen).

In addition, his book “Clio Wired: The Future of the Past in the Digital Age” was released posthumously in December 2010 by Columbia University Press. The collection of essays looks at the impact of new media on teaching, researching, preserving, presenting and understanding history.

For more information about the center’s fund-raising drive, or to make a pledge in the Circle of Friends, visit the center’s website.


Write to mediarel at gazette@gmu.edu