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Making the History of 1989: Sources and Narratives of the Fall of Communism

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Making the History of 1989: Sources and Narratives of the Fall of Communism

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Making the History of 1989: Sources and Narratives of the Fall of Communism


The goal of Making the History of 1989 is to make visible to teachers and students the events of 1989 and the processes by which historians turn those events into sometimes conflicting narratives, thereby providing students with the sources and intellectual tools they need to be history makers rather than passive consumers of the past. To this end, Making the History of 1989 will create a free website with three key features: a substantial collection of high quality primary sources along with guidance on how to use those sources critically and tools for annotating and organizing the sources; a set of multimedia interviews that make visible the processes by which historians transform events and sources into historical narratives; and a body of teaching materials that give teachers direct guidance on how to teach about 1989 in ways that make “history making” visible and vivid.

Start Date


End Date


Proposal Co-Authors

Kelly Schrum
Mills Kelly


Kelly Schrum
Mills Kelly


Katherine Gustin
Gwen White

Web Designer(s)

Laura Veprek


Pin Wang

Staff Members

Jeremy Boggs
Maureen Connors
Misha Griffith
Kristopher Kelly
Kristin May
Anastasia Mikheeva
Liz Moore
Emily Perdue
Misha Vinokur

Content Experts

Elizabeth Morrow Clark
Bradley Abrams
Maria Bucur
Padraic Kenney
Vladimir Tismaneanu
Gale Stokes
Tom Rushford
Matthew P. Romaniello
Jon Berndt Olsen
James Bjork
Tom Ewing
Cathleen Giustino
Irina Livezeanu
Brian Porter-Szucs
Jennifer Dikes
Laura Thompson
Cynthia Szwajkowski
Elizabeth Ten Dyke
Hugh Agnew
Melissa Bokovoy
David Doellinger
Maura Hametz
Kevin Deegan-Kraus
Jill Massino
Basia Nowak
Tricia Starks
Jennifer Walton
Alan Gevinson
Deanna Wooley
Joel Tannenbaum


National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library
University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Special Collections
Wende Museum


1. 300 primary sources in multiple media formats dealing with the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, along with an introductory essay that provides students and teachers with a concise narrative of the central events that led up to the collapse of communism and its aftermath, and tools for analyzing and annotating these sources.
2. Historians Making History: Multimedia interviews with four scholars on how they use a range of sources (official communist documents, government propaganda, opposition polemics, and media coverage), how interpretations of 1989 changed after the communist era archives opened, and how their own interpretations (and those of their colleagues) have been shaped by evolving circumstances.
3. Putting History Making in the Classroom: six Teaching Modules that provide historical context, teaching tools, and strategies for sets of primary sources drawn from the website’s database and ten Teaching Case Studies by experienced scholars and teachers that model strategies for teaching the history of 1989 with primary sources.

Project URL



National Endowment for the Humanities
German Historical Institute

Funding Amount

$190,000 from NEH; $10,000 from German Historical Institute


Cold War International History Project
National Security Archive

Technology Used



High school and college students and professors




“Making the History of 1989: Sources and Narratives of the Fall of Communism,” RRCHNM20, accessed September 24, 2023, https://20.rrchnm.org/items/show/201.

Item Relations

This Item foaf:fundedBy Item: National Endowment for the Humanities
This Item foaf:fundedBy Item: German Historical Institute
This Item Partner Item: Cold War International History Project
This Item Partner Item: National Security Archive
This Item Staff Item: Kelly Schrum
This Item Staff Item: Mills Kelly
This Item Staff Item: Katherine Gustin
This Item Staff Item: Gwen White
This Item Staff Item: Laura Veprek
This Item Staff Item: Pin Wang
This Item Staff Item: Jeremy Boggs
This Item Staff Item: Maureen Connors
This Item Staff Item: Misha Griffith
This Item Staff Item: Kristopher Kelly
This Item Staff Item: Anastasia Mikheeva
This Item Staff Item: Liz Moore
This Item Staff Item: Emily Perdue
This Item Staff Item: Misha Vinokur