The New York State Organization of the Daughters of the American Revolution announced on September 24, 2020 the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Teacher of American History (OTAH) award. Three judges unanimously bestowed the highest total points achievable to Erik Weiselberg, Ph.D., of Irvington, New York.
The application was sponsored by the Hudson River Patriots Chapter NSDAR. Dr. Weiselberg is a social studies teacher at Irvington High School located in Westchester County, New York. Regent Philomena Dunn of the chapter reported,
“In August, Hudson River Patriots Chapter, NSDAR was delighted to present Dr. Weiselberg the chapter award for 2020 Outstanding Teacher of American History at a small ceremony at Irvington Veterans Memorial Plaza due to the pandemic and to sponsor him to New York State.”
She reported that the members of the Hudson River Patriots Chapter have attended and enjoyed his talks and that Dr. Weiselberg was most deserving of this award as he “brings the history alive” for the members of the chapter. The chapter is hoping to hold a luncheon in April 2021 to honor Dr. Weiselberg.
Dr. Weiselberg is a well-respected historian with a Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of Oregon. Since returning to his home state of New York, he has developed expertise in the American Revolutionary War era, specializing in the ways that diverse people, including both soldiers and noncombatants at local, state and national levels, experienced the events of the war and in turn shaped the development of the nation. One of his students who wrote in support of his nomination stated, “Dr. Weiselberg is highly deserving of this award. He makes learning enjoyable, relevant and rewarding as he will always challenge students to grow and to support their learning.”
In 2019 Weiselberg was selected to serve as the Village Historian of Irvington, and he is an active member of the Irvington Historical Society. In addition, he serves as the principal historian for Revolutionary Westchester 250 (RW250) and as a consultant to Revolutionary Hastings-on-Hudson. Veronica Gedrich, President of the Irvington Historical Society offered her congratulations: “We are grateful for all his efforts to support the Irvington Historical Society – his pubic programs, exhibits at the McVickar House and his leadership in the Tomorrow’s Historians project, which inspires a lively interest in history among our young people.”
Dr. Weiselberg expressed his thanks to the local chapter and the New York State NSDAR, saying, “ I am fully committed to telling everyone’s story both at school and in my research and presentations on behalf of RW250. In addition to celebrating the local patriot soldiers in my lessons and public presentations I highlight the noncombatants and others whose experiences are woven into the fabric of history. This includes the free and enslaved persons of African ancestry, Native Americans and women and children.” He further commented that the diversity of experiences of the revolutionary war era has importance and relevance to our contemporary issues and debates.
Dr. Weiselberg serves as Principal Historian of Revolutionary Westchester 250, a not-for-profit corporation whose president, Constance Kehoe, said, “I am thrilled that Erik has been recognized for his outstanding teaching of American history. I have seen hundreds of adult ‘students’ who have come to his RW250 slide show presentations be mesmerized by his ability to connect contemporary familiar local places – such as Route 9 in Hastings-on-Hudson – to the details of the local history. Hessian soldiers marched north into a surprise attack, on that very road some 240 years ago.”
Dr. Weiselberg, she noted, has spent hundreds of volunteer hours helping spread the word about the relatively unknown history of Westchester County as part of the buildup to the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution and the founding of the United States.
Beth Combs Keyser, New York State DAR Historian, wrote in the October, 2020 issue of the Empire State DAR News that his application will be forwarded to the National Outstanding Teacher of American History to be considered for the National award. The successful application will be announced at the NSDAR Continental Congress in June, 2021. She added, “Congratulations ‘Dr. W’!”