NWO History Textbook Research

1. NWO PhD project Humanities 'Duurzame Geesteswetenschappen'

Tina van der Vlies MA (2011-2016)
Historical scholarship and school history: national narratives in Dutch and English textbooks, 1920-2010

A frequent complaint in Western society is that young people are ignorant of the history of their country of residence. Politicians as well as some prominent historians blame school history for not offering a convincing vision of the national past. Most history educators, however, are of a different opinion. Why the relationship between historical scholarship and school history is problematical is not clear. This research project seeks to analyze specific aspects of this relationship: the narration of the nation in history textbooks.

The research question of my project is: How have developments in historical scholarship influenced the construction of national narratives in Dutch and English history textbooks for secondary education between 1920-2010, and what were possible dynamic interactions between scholarship and school history? The research period covers major developments since the 1920s, apart from the history profession:

  1. Global transformations on domestic issues and the public self-image of both countries (since 1920 continuation of colonial framing of both nations; after 1945 de-colonization; in the 1960s a mellowing of nationalism in post-war Europe; since the 1990s re-nationalization). 
  2. National education policies and regulations.
  3. The rise of educational studies. 
  4. The changing textbook market and emerging new media. The project seeks to elucidate the relationship between historical scholarship and school history. It will investigate continuities and discontinuities in presenting national history in Dutch/English textbooks, and will support teachers by enhancing their insights in the changing contents and standards of history textbooks.

Tina van der Vlies has been awarded with the ‘Paper Prize 2014’ at the International Standing Conference for the History of Education (ISCHE) in Istanbul, 2015.

Supervisor: Prof. Maria Grever, CHC-EUR; co-supervisors Dr Stephan Klein, CHC-EUR / ICLON Leiden University, Dr Jacques Dane, National Museum of Education Rotterdam.

Advisory Board: Prof. Carla van Boxtel (EUR/UVA); Prof. Terry Haydn (UK); Prof. Ed Jonker (UU); Joke van der Leeuw-Roord (EUROCLIO).  

2. PhD project CHC / HAN

Drs. Marc van Berkel (2011-2015)
Holocaust education in a transforming historical culture. History textbooks and curriculum development in the Netherlands and North Rhine-Westphalia, 1960-2010

In what ways did a developing historical and memory culture in the Netherlands and North Rhine-Westphalia influence Holocaust Education between 1970-2010?

Theoretical notions

  • Historical culture; memory culture.
  • Popular historical culture; public history.
  • Collective memory: communicative and cultural memory.
  • Holocaust; Shoa; Holocaust education.
  • Transnational memory didactics.


  • History textbooks in Germany and the Netherlands.
  • Curricula and policy documents in both countries concerning education.


  • Comparative research methods.
  • Text book analysis; how and why? (analyzing methods).

Supervisor Prof. Maria Grever, CHC-EUR.

3. Master Theses on History Textbook Research

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