Ten Years Later: Remembering Roy

This was written by Michael Rynearson. He is a graduate research assistant for the Special Collections Research Center. He has been working with special collections for over a month now. He is a currently a first semester international security graduate student in Schar School of Policy and Government. His academic focus is within counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency studies. He hopes in the future to work for the federal government in the intelligence community. When not focusing on his studies, Mike is avid baseball and professional wrestling fan.

“Dr. Roy A. Rosenzweig, October 11, 1995,” George Mason University photograph collection, #R0120, Box 57, Folder 8, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

Roy Rosenzweig is famously known as the founder of George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media and for his work in public history. Roy grew up in Queens, NY and would end up graduating from Columbia College. Rosenzweig would later receive his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Rosenzweig would join the George Mason University faculty in 1981 and would remain a member until his passing, ten years ago today. Many of his early works, much like his teachings, would focus upon topics such as the history of Central Park, public labor movements and the importance of history in our lives. Roy’s work for the university would lead to numerous awards and grants from the government and others within the historical community. Rosenzweig’s passion was that history be accessible to all in society, not just to the historians who seek to study it. His later endeavors would be directly influenced by this passion. In an effort to make history more easily obtainable, Rosenzweig would co-author a set of monumental CDs called Who Built America. His later work in the 1990s and early 2000s would follow this route as he would extensively write on the importance of emerging digital media including his book Digital History.

“Dr. Roy A. Rosenzweig, ca. 1985,” George Mason University photograph collection, #R0120, Box 57, Folder 8, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

Rosenzweig would also develop a great interest in oral history. In the 1980’s and 1990’s he provided guidance to those in the Northern Virginia area on how to perform their own oral histories interviews at home. After the attacks of September 11th 2001, Roy took great efforts to ensure that the history of those who had experienced the tragedy would be documented. He would obtain extensive amounts of oral histories ranging from those who were first responder’s to citizens of the city describing the immediate aftermath and the years following the attacks. The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has continued on Roy’s mission by establishing The September 11 Digital Archive that still receives contributions to this day. The collection includes the oral histories originally obtained by Rosenzweig but also many more features such as art, online contributions and many other digital media projects.

“Digital History”, Roy Rosenzweig Papers, #C0038, Box 86, Folder 4. Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

The Special Collections Research Center holds a collection that contains Who Built America and Digital History, as well as many of Rosenzweig’s writings from his time at George Mason. The Roy Rosenzweig collection largely documents his research and writing through articles, notes, and correspondence on New York Central Park, Worcester (Massachusetts), labor, and digital humanities work. In addition, the collection contains almost complete runs of rare history and humanities periodicals such as Radical History Review Newsletter, Historical Methods Newsletter, History Microcomputer Review, Radical Teacher, Cultural Correspondence, and Radical America. His interest and work with oral history is reflected in the Northern Virginia Oral History Project collection, but his personal collection includes a whole series on oral histories conducted by him. Although the collection dates from 1934, there are many facsimiles of documents, particularly on Central Park, that contain information prior to 1934. The collection is split into nine series, contains 98 boxes and is completely processed with a finding aid.






Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media