Department of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Professions


Jonathan Zimmerman

Professor of History and Education; Department Chair

Jonathan Zimmerman

Phone: 212-998-5049

Curriculum Vitae/Syllabi

Jonathan Zimmerman is Professor of Education and History and Director of the History of Education Program, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. He also holds an appointment in the Department of History of NYU's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. A former Peace Corps volunteer and high school teacher, Zimmerman is the author of Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory (Yale, 2009), Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century (Harvard, 2006), Whose America? Culture Wars in the Public Schools (Harvard, 2002), and Distilling Democracy: Alcohol Education in America's Public Schools, 1880-1925 (Kansas, 1999). His academic articles have appeared in the Journal of American History, the Teachers College Record, and History of Education Quarterly. Zimmerman is also a frequent op-ed contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Republic, and other popular newspapers and magazines.

Degrees Held

  • B.A. Columbia University 1983
  • M.A. Johns Hopkins University 1990
  • Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University 1993


  • 2008 : New York University Distinguished Teaching Award
  • 1999 : Daniel Griffiths Faculty Research Award, New York University School of Education
  • 1991 : Henry Barnard Prize, History of Education Society
  • Outstanding Book Award, History of Education Society
  • New Scholar's Award, American Educational Research Association

Editorial Boards

  • Vice-President, History of Education Society, 2009-2010
  • President, History of Education Society, 2010-2011

Selected Publications

  • Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory
    The little red schoolhouse has all but disappeared in the United States, but its importance in national memory remains unshakable. This engaging book examines the history of the one-room school and how successive generations of Americans have remembered—and just as often misremembered—this powerful national icon.
  • Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century - Protestant missionaries in Latin America. Colonial "civilizers" in the Pacific. Peace Corps Volunteers in Africa. Since the 1890s, thousands of American teachers--mostly young, white, middle-class, and inexperienced--have fanned out across the globe. Innocents Abroad tells the story of what they intended to teach and what lessons they learned. (link)
  • Whose America?: Culture Wars in the Public Schools - What do America's children learn about American history, American values, and human decency? Who decides? In this absorbing book, Jonathan Zimmerman tells the dramatic story of conflict, compromise, and more conflict over the teaching of history and morality in twentieth-century America. (link)
  • Ethnics Against Ethnicity: European Immigrants and Foreign-Language Instruction, 1890-1940, Journal of American History, March 2002 (link)
  • 'Each 'Race' Could Have its Heroes Sung': Ethnicity and the History Wars in the 1920s Journal of American History, June 2000 (link)
  • Beyond Double Consciousness: Black Peace Corps Volunteers in Africa, 1961-1971 Journal of American History, December 1995 (link)

Research Interests

  • Twentieth Century History of Education
  • Democratic Community and Education
  • Immigration History
  • The influence of schools on development


  • HSED-GE 2175 - What Are Schools For? Historical Perspectives
  • HSED-GE 2174 - History of American Education and Society: Race and Ethnicity
  • RESCH-GE 2135 - Historical Research
  • HSED-GE 2079 - The Rise and Fall of Progressive Education
  • HSED-GE 2173 - History of American Education and Society: Education and the Culture Wars
  • HSED-GE 3006/7 - Department Seminar: History of Education