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David Jaffee Papers

Identifier: 2018-002

Scope and Contents

The collection is arranged into five series and spans David Jaffee’s career, mostly from the 1980s through 2016. It primarily consists of his teaching materials, writings, and documentation of major projects he worked on. There are several pieces of correspondence from notable individuals in the collection, including exams from a course taught by Bernard Bailyn at Harvard, and both a video tribute and brief note from historian Alan Taylor.

Series I: Biographical Materials - This series includes academic vitae; a few items from his high school and graduate student days; and posthumous tributes and remembrances.

Series II: Teaching Materials - This series consists of course materials, especially syllabi, reading lists, and planning documents, as well as notes and lecture slide presentations. They primarily represent courses at Bard Graduate Center, but also earlier classes taught elsewhere.

Series III: Writings - This series includes materials in four subseries: publications (manuscripts, book chapters, articles, reviews, and essays); lectures, papers, and presentations; and unpublished (or unfinished) works; and other related files. Some materials included are finished works, drafts, outlines, annotations, presentations, notes, remarks, and other related material.

Series IV: Professional Projects and Service - This series includes materials relating to David Jaffee’s work on major projects, exhibitions, and professional service. Most prominently featured are the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institutes he directed at Bard Graduate Center. Some other files included cover exhibitions; collaborations with organizations such as the American Social History Project; CAMC (Consortium on American Material Culture); and symposia convened.

Series V: Research Materials - This series includes various notes, collections guides, and research files. It includes a subseries on notes, and a subseries on conferences attended.


  • c. 1971-2016
  • Majority of material found in 1988-2016

Biographical / Historical

David P. Jaffee (b. New York, 1954; d. New York, 2017) was a noted scholar in American material and visual culture, as well as in social, cultural, and colonial history. Throughout his career, he explored the uses of technology in teaching and research. He received his BA from Harvard University in 1976. He spent a year at Christ’s College at Cambridge University, and returned to Harvard for his doctoral work, writing a dissertation on the cultural geography of Early America under the supervision of Professor Bernard Bailyn. This was later published as the book People of the Wachusett: Greater New England in History and Memory, 1630–1860. He was a historian at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, and taught at Georgetown University and Princeton University before being hired at The City College of New York in 1987. He taught there, and later at the Graduate Center, CUNY, until 2007. At the Graduate Center, he worked closely with the American Social History Project and the CUNY Interactive Technology and Pedagogy program. He was a Fulbright Professor in American Studies at the University of Tokyo, and would continue to return to lecture in Japan on American history and material culture during his career. David Jaffee began teaching at Bard Graduate Center in 2007. There, he was instrumental in founding the school’s Digital Media Lab in 2009, and in launching a curriculum in the material culture of New York City. His book A New Nation of Goods: The Material Culture of Early America was published in 2010 and won the Fred Kniffen Book Prize of the Pioneer America Society. He also led the development of the influential National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute for College Teachers on American Material Culture, using New York City as its case study. This project was selected four times for funding by the NEH (in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017), with David Jaffee serving as project director for the first three Institutes. During his time at Bard Graduate Center, he also curated two exhibitions in collaboration with MA and PhD students: Visualizing 19th-Century New York (Fall 2014) and New York Crystal Palace 1853 (Spring 2017). These follow exhibition work early in his career on 1992’s Meet Your Neighbors at Sturbridge Village.


3.4 Linear Feet (8 archives boxes and 1 oversize box (paper files))

19.6 Gigabytes (digital files)

Language of Materials



Files in each series are arranged by date.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Isadora Jaffee.

David Jaffee Papers
In Progress
Mike Satalof
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Bard Graduate Center, New York, NY Repository

38 West 86th St.
New York NY 10024