History of CSAC
Greetings from the Center for the Study of the American Constitution (CSAC). We’re glad you stopped by for a visit. We are dedicated to being a resource for scholars, educators, students, professionals, and the just plain curious. We have plenty of information to keep you busy for some time.
We are housed within the History Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and for many years we have been doing research and publishing materials relating to the creation and ratification of the American Constitution. Take some time and roam around our site. We are confident you will find something of use to you as a person interested in the American Constitution.
Announcing the CSAC Fellows Program (pdf)
You Might Want to Know
Originating in an idea in the 1930s, a private contribution from the Ford Foundation in the late 1950s funded a documentary history of the Ratification of the Constitution. Federal funding began in 1964. The initial work, known simply as the Ratification Project, began under the direction of Robert Cushman, and after his death the project was turned over to Merrill Jensen at the UW-Madison. Jensen then hired Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski as associate editors. Richard Leffler joined the project in 1973. The project was moved permanently to UW-Madison in 1970 and has remained here since. With the death of Merrill Jensen in January 1980, Kaminski became the director of the Ratification Project. In 1981 Kaminski founded and continues to direct the Center for the Study of the American Constitution. The Center, in addition to continuing the Ratification Project, then began additional projects more broadly related to the Founding Period. Thus, over the years the CSAC has collected copies of over 60,000 documents in their efforts to publish the definitive history of Ratification as well as produce scholarship related to other topics of the Early Republic. CSAC’s and Kaminski’s publications are voluminous and are widely used by scholars, judges, and teachers. We also have seen the need for more outreach and have added an outreach specialist. We are seeking a larger presence in curricula and classrooms around the region and the nation through outreach and professional development. For a more detailed history and explanation of our efforts, go to an article originally published in the Wisconsin Academy Review titled, “Documenting the Constitution: The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.” (pdf)