Profile profile for schaeferjacobsd

Debbie Schaefer-Jacobs


Pre-doctorate studies in Public History at George Mason University
M.A. Texas Tech University, Museum Science, minors: History, Art History, Historic Preservation
B.A. with Distinction, University of Rhode Island; Major 1 History, Major 2 Art History, Phi Alpha Theta, president; Mortar Board

Research Specialties: 

• History of American education through artifacts including:
History of the American school desk; Americanization in the classroom; Civics instruction and the promotion of Patriotism in Schools; Material culture of women's education in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th Centuries; Segregated schooling; "Back to School;" Objects promoting the literacy of American youth; curriculum changes; material culture of the classroom and teaching
• Educational toys and Childhood games
• 19th century American prints especially Civil War popular prints
• Visual studies and American material culture
• Collection documentation, digitization, and classification of artifacts of the home

Role in Museum: 
  •    Curator of the Education Collections including the Dr Richard Lodish American School Collection
  •    Curator of the Harry T. Peters America on Stone Collection  (19th century prints)
  •    Curator in the Division of Culture and Community Life (formerly Home and Community Life)

• History of American education exhibit and related publications
• Collections research and augmentation of artifact information for web access

Past Projects:
• Team member/co-curator for Many Voices, One Nation exhibition, opened June 2017
• Numerous projects concerning development, maintenance, and use of standard practices for cataloging objects, including the development and promotion of Documentation Standards for NMAH Collections.
• Developed object classifications with curatorial staff. Edited the on-line collections information system and provided assistance with research and development of NMAH authority records.
• Team member on major information architecture projects for NMAH 1982-2002; on SI and international committees including NMAH functional model, NMAH Data Model, SI Data Content Committee, and Roles and Transaction Terms documents.
• Provided MultiMimsy XG staff training 1996-2007.
• Member of exhibit de-installation original NMAH First Ladies exhibition.
• Team leader for NMAH shelf inventory editors and the development of the Museum Information Retrieval and Documentation System in the 1980s.

Awards, Honors, and Special Recognition: 

Presentations and Lectures:

Interpreting School Segregation in Museum Exhibitions

Some Assembly Required: The Student Seat and Schoolhouse Furniture 1845-1945

Patriotism in the Classroom: The Material Culture of Americanization 1880-1915 (2015)

American Education Objects Out of Storage

Civil War Objects Out of Storage (2013-present)

Introduction to the Harry T Peters “America on Stone” Print Collection (2010-present)

How to Teach and Old Catalogue New Tricks (1999)




  • Schaefer-Jacobs, D. (2019). Sarah Anne Carter, Object Lessons: How Nineteenth-Century Americans Learned to Make Sense of the Material World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. 216 pp. History of Education Quarterly, 59(3), 407-410. doi:10.1017/heq.2019.21



  • National Judge/ team captain for annual National History Day competition, College Park, Maryland
  • Community volunteer with Friends of the Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, Va
  • As a formerly active PTA member (1990-2005) was nominated Volunteer of the Year for Fairfax County, Virginia. 
  • Promotes the future of the museum profession by mentoring NMAH interns in collections management and collaborating with them on projects. Her intern's collection focused blogs include:
Professional Affiliations: 

American Alliance of Museums
Country School Association of America
History of Education Society
Organization of American Historians
National Trust for Historic Preservation