Careful History Research
Our work begins with the Student Edition, a textbook written by a team of historians, including experts in the state’s history and geography. From there it is polished by a Gibbs Smith editor who has an academic speciality in history. Before going to press, the edited manuscript is also sent to a committee of reviewers from the state who are educators and history specialists for their feedback.
At Gibbs Smith our goal is to describe the events of history accurately and objectively. We make every effort to acknowledge the challenges faced by different groups of Americans and to show the changing perspectives and cultures that have shaped this nation and each of its states. Our writers and editors check history facts using multiple well-respected sources to be sure we are presenting the best information available on any given event or topic.
State Social Studies Standards
Each state has its own set of social studies standards, usually focusing on key historical events and figures and on topics such as geography, economics, government, and civic engagement. We tailor each book specifically to match the state social studies standards—and we contact specialists at the state level to answer any questions we may have. Although events from state history may be framed by major events of US history, our primary emphasis is the state.
Common Core and Other Literacy Standards
The Common Core standards have been adopted by many states seeking to strengthen student literacy. States not using the Common Core often have comparable language arts standards. At Gibbs Smith Education, we believe history and literacy go hand in hand. Our instructional materials offer many activities and assessment options that strengthen student literacy. Most notably, each lesson includes a reading comprehension activity and a writing project. Today’s busy teachers can use our materials as part of their language arts programs—especially in support of standards for reading informational text.
Strong Instructional Support
Our programs provide a variety of lessons, activities, and options that can be adapted to meet the needs of each teacher and class. The Teacher Guide includes anchor activities supported by Student Guide (activity book) pages—among them a comprehension strategy assignment and a writing project—as well as chapter resource lists, optional activities, discussion questions, and three types of assessments. The Student Edition further provides lesson and chapter review activities along with critical thinking questions. In addition, each program includes a special guide for teaching English Language Learners.
Gibbs Smith Education emphasizes giving students access to important primary source documents and artifacts. Also, in keeping with today’s high-tech culture, our programs require students to conduct library and online research and to incorporate the latest technology into their classwork and presentations. We also provide a variety of digital materials online.
To Enrich and Inspire
The company motto here at Gibbs Smith is “To enrich and inspire humankind.” We believe that history and social studies programs can teach children to appreciate their heritage, help them learn from the lessons of the past, and show them what people are capable of accomplishing in this world. It’s an honor to be part of the process of educating your students.
Always intrigued by people and the story of the past, Gibbs Smith dreamed of becoming a history professor. His vision took him to Berkeley for grad school in the late 1960s, where he wrote his master’s dissertation on Joe Hill, the American labor martyr, proletarian folk hero, and songwriter. His dissertation was published as a book and informed the production of a movie. Produced by Swedish filmmakers, Joe Hill won the Jury Prize at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival.
Building on his success and his love of history, Smith and his wife, Cathy, decided to start a publishing company. Their first office was their studio apartment in Santa Barbara, and they published four supplementary history textbooks for college classrooms with only $12,000 of seed money.
The company grew, relocating to Utah in 1973. Gibbs and his wife poured their profits back into the business and lived on savings. They spent that first summer converting an old barn (built in 1916) on the Smith family farm into offices. They managed to publish their first state history textbook, Utah’s Heritage. With no sales force or distribution network, the couple packed up their truck and traveled throughout the state to sell the textbook to as many schools as possible. Their perseverance and the quality of the book paid off.
Smith will never forget sharing the barn with cows those first few years. “You could hear them mooing through the walls,” he says with a smile. “People could hear them over the phone, too.” When he would explain the ruckus, the response on the other end of the line was always the same: “You do what? From where?”
Today, the Barn is home to three sheep—Wilma, Mabel, and Frannie, a few hens, and a menagerie of cats. There are also a few editors who produce beautiful books for our trade department. Among the books published by our trade side are design, craft, cooking, how-to, outdoors, regional interest, home reference, and children’s literature.