About us

Beyond the Bubble unlocks the vast digital archive of the Library of Congress to create a new generation of history assessments. Developed by the Stanford History Education Group (http://sheg.stanford.edu), Beyond the Bubble is the cornerstone of SHEG’s membership in the Library of Congress’s Teaching with Primary Sources Educational Consortium. We “go beyond the bubble” by offering easy-to-use assessments that capture students’ knowledge in action – rather than their recall of discrete facts.

Stanford History Education Group (SHEG): A consortium of Stanford faculty, graduate students, post-docs and visiting scholars, SHEG is an award-winning R & D group that provides outreach to educators in California and across the nation. SHEG draws on over twenty years of research-based experience working at the elementary, middle, and high school levels to find the most effective ways to convey knowledge and love of history to students and teachers of all ages.

Teaching with Primary Sources: The mission of the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program is to: build awareness of the Library’s educational initiatives; provide content that promotes the effective educational use of the Library’s resources; and offer access to and promote sustained use of the Library’s educational resources.

The Library achieves this mission through collaborations between the Library and the K-12 educational community across the United States. The program contributes to the quality of education by helping teachers use the Library’s digitized primary sources to engage students, develop their critical thinking skills and construct knowledge.

Learn more about the Library’s TPS program and other resources available to teachers at www.loc.gov/teachers.

Project Directors

Sam Wineburg
, Margaret Jacks Professor of Education and Professor of History (by courtesy), heads the Stanford History Education Group. His scholarship has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and on NPR and C-SPAN. His 2003 book, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past, received the Frederic W. Ness Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities.


Mark Smith is the assistant director of Stanford's Teaching with Primary Sources program. He earned a Ph.D. from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. He also holds a M.A. in social studies education from the University of Iowa and a B.A. in history from the University of Northern Iowa. Mark also teaches part-time at the Castilleja School in Palo Alto, California.  Previously, he taught history in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Plano, Texas.  His research focuses on history assessment.


Joel Breakstone is the director of the Stanford History Education Group. He received a Ph.D. from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2013.  He also holds a B.A. in history from Brown University and a M.A. in Liberal Studies from Dartmouth College. He taught high school history in Thetford, Vermont.  He currently studies how teachers use assessment data to inform instruction.  


Project Associates

Rob Lucas holds a B.A. in Social Studies and an M.Ed. in educational technology from Harvard University.  He has taught middle school social studies in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. He is interested in online teacher knowledge sharing, Open Educational Resources, and local history in the secondary classroom.



Daniel Immerwahr is an assistant professor of  history at Northwestern University. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. from Columbia University. He traveled to England on a Marshall Scholarship to study history at King's College, Cambridge. His dissertation addressed American attempts to develop the Third World after WWII. His article, "The Fact/Narrative Distinction and Student Examinations in History," appeared in The History Teacher.  


Jonathan Burack earned his B.A. in history and economics from Harvard, a M.A.T. from the Harvard School of Education, and did graduate work in the history of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He taught high school history for several years.  Since 1995, he has been the author of MindSparks, a curriculum series that teaches students to interpret primary sources, write DBQ essays, develop debating skills, and master strategies that foster sound habits of historical thought.