UPJ’s Newman Named History Channel’s Teacher of the Year

Issue Date: 
April 27, 2008


Paul Douglas Newman, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown professor of history, is the recipient of the History Channel’s 2008 “Save Our History” Teacher of the Year Award. He will be recognized at a ceremony Friday, May 2, in Washington, D.C.

“I am both honored and humbled to have been nominated for this prestigious national award by my colleagues who teach history at the secondary school and college levels. And I am thrilled to accept it on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Northern Cambria High School, and the high school’s outstanding students and teachers,” Newman said. He also expressed gratitude to “all of my wonderful teachers throughout the years, and especially the thousands of pupils it has been my great pleasure to teach and learn from over the last decade and a half.”

In 2007, Newman coauthored, with Anne Staples of the Coal Country Youth Hangout in Northern Cambria, Pa., a $10,000 “Save Our History” grant from the History Channel to fund a local research project for select Northern Cambria High School students. In September, he and 15 students began conceptualizing, researching, producing, filming, and editing a one-hour video documentary about Cambria County Vietnam War veterans. The project was coordinated with Karen Bowman, Northern Cambria High School social studies teacher, who helped with scheduling and running four regional Vietnam Veteran Documentation Days. Her help was integral to the project’s success, said Newman.

October 2007 marked the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. combat death in Vietnam, Captain Harry Griffith Cramer Jr. of Johnstown. The 50th anniversary came and went without fanfare, Newman said.

“Our film gives local Vietnam Vets a venue for their voices to reflect upon this anniversary. It is our hope that it will spark a national remembrance and conversation about the Vietnam experience as we approach the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s 1965 escalation of hostilities. The students have collected hours of interviews from more than 20 local vets, including U.S. Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania.”

The team filmed at locations in Johnstown, Ebensburg, Northern Cambria, and Windber, all in Cambria County, Pa., and in Washington, D.C. The film will premiere on June 15 in Northern Cambria, Newman said, adding that he hopes to show the film publicly in Johnstown and Ebensburg as well.

Newman earned his bachelor’s degree at York College of Pennsylvania and master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Kentucky. He is the editor of Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies and has published the book Fries’s Rebellion: The Enduring Struggle for the American Revolution (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). He began his career at UPJ in 1995 and teaches courses in early American history.