About the Office of the State Historian
Walter W. Woodward is the fifth person to hold the position of State Historian, which was created in the 1930s in preparation for Connecticut's 300th anniversary. The State Historian is appointed by the trustees of the University of
Connecticut, and is a faculty member in the UConn Department of History. He or she is also assigned by the legislature to serve on a
number of boards and commissions that promote, preserve, and/or research
state history. In addition, the Office of the State Historian provides information on
historical matters to the media, public, and legislature, and maintains
active programs of historical research & public outreach, conducting
lectures, programs, and teacher education seminars throughout the state.
Prof. Woodward is a scholar of Early American and Atlantic World history, with an emphasis on Connecticut and New England. His research interests cover a variety of subjects, including witchcraft, alchemy and the history of science, the use of music in Early America, and environmental history.
Prof. Woodward received his Ph. D. with Distinction from the University of Connecticut in 2001, and has served as State Historian since 2004. He obtained his Master's Degree in History from Cleveland State University, and his B.A. in English from the University of Florida. Prior to joining UConn, he was a faculty member of the Department of History at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.
Before becoming a historian, Woodward had successful careers in both the music and advertising industries. He was the composer of two hit country songs ("Marty Gray" and "It Could'a Been Me") in the 1970s, as well as music for film and television, for which he won two Emmy Awards and two special achievement awards from SESAC. His advertising creativity won him 8 Clio Awards, and in 1980 he was Cleveland's Advertising Person of the Year.
Prospero's America: John Winthrop Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676
University of North Carolina Press, 2010
In Prospero's America, Walter W. Woodward examines the transfer of alchemical culture to America by John Winthrop, Jr., one of English colonization's early giants. Winthrop participated in a pan-European network of natural philosophers who believed alchemy could improve the human condition and hasten Christ's Second Coming. Woodward demonstrates the influence of Winthrop and his philosophy on New England's cultural formation: its settlement, economy, religious toleration, Indian relations, medical practice, witchcraft prosecution, and imperial diplomacy. Prospero's America reconceptualizes the significance of early modern science in shaping New England hand-in-hand with Puritanism and politics.
First published in 2010, Prospero's America was recently re-released in paperback (2013) and is also available on Kindle.
With Alan Marcus and Jeremy Stoddard
Teaching History with Museums: Strategies for K-12 Social Studies
Teaching History with Museums provides an introduction and overview of the rich pedagogical power of museums. In this comprehensive textbook, the authors show how museums offer a sophisticated understanding of the past and develop habits of mind in ways that are not easily duplicated in the classroom. Using engaging cases to illustrate accomplished history teaching through museum visits, this text provides pre- and in-service teachers, teacher educators, and museum educators with ideas for successful visits to artifact and display-based museums, historic forts, living history museums, memorials, monuments, and other heritage sites. Each case is constructed to be adapted and tailored in ways that will be applicable to any classroom and encourage students to think deeply about museums as historical accounts and interpretations to be examined, questioned, and discussed.