Best U.S. History Web Sites
Library of Congress
An outstanding and invaluable site for American history and general studies. Contains primary and secondary files, exhibits, map collections, prints and photos, sound recordings and motion images. The Library of Congress American Memory Historical Collections, a must-see, comprises the majority of digitalized materials, but the Exhibitions Gallery is enticing and informative as well. The Library of Congress also provides a Learning Page that provides activities, tools, thoughts, and features for educators and students.
The Library of Congress American Memory in particular is a superb resource for American history and general studies. Contained are multimedia collections of photos, recorded sound, moving pictures, and digitized text. Use the Teachers section to research main set collections and themed resources. Teachers can get updates on new tools, professional development opportunities, and Library programs, events and services.
The Library of Congress: Teachers
The new Library of Congress Teachers page provides resources and tools to using Library of Congress primary source records in the classroom and contain excellent lesson plans, record analysis tools, online and offline tasks, timelines, presentations and professional development resources.
Center for History and New Media: History Matters
A Creation of the American Social History Project/Center of Media and Learning, City of University New York, and the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, History Matters is an Excellent online resource for history teachers and pupils. One of the many digital resources are lesson plans, syllabi, links, and exhibits. The middle for History and New Media’s tools include a listing of”best” web sites, links to syllabi and lesson plans, essays on history and new websites, a link to their excellent History Matters web site for U.S. History, and much more. The CHNM History News Network is a weekly web-based magazine that features articles by several historians. Resources are intended to benefit specialist historians, high school instructors, and students of the history.
Teaching American History
This is a wonderful assortment of thoughtful and thorough lesson plans and other resources on teaching American history. Each job was created by educators in Virginia at a Center for History and New Media workshop. All projects include a variety of lesson plans and tools, and some even offer instructional videos on source analysis. The lesson plans cover a variety of topics in American history and use engaging and interesting sources, activities, discussion questions, and assessments. Take your time browsing–there are many to choose from.
National Archives and Records Administration
The NARA offers national archives, exhibits, classroom tools, census documents, Hot Topics, and more. Besides its newspaper holdings (which would circle the Earth 57 days ) it has over 3.5 billion electronic records. Users can research individuals, locations, events as well as other popular themes of interest, as well as ancestry and military documents. There are also features exhibits drawing from a lot of those NARA’s favorite sources. One of the most asked holdings would be the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, WWII photographs, along with the Bill of Rights.
The National Archives: Teachers’ Resources
The National Archives Lesson Plans section contains incorporates U.S. main files and its excellent teaching tasks correlate to the National History Standards and National Standards for Civics and Government. Lessons are organized by averaging era, from 1754 to the present.
The National Archives Experience: Digital Vaults is an interactive exploration of history that examines thousands of files, photos, and pieces of history that were integrated in a digital format. Upon going into the homepage, the consumer is given eight arbitrary archives to select from. Clicking on one provides a description along with a brief history of that record, as well as exhibits a large variety of similar archives. The consumer has the ability to shuffle, rearrange, collect, and research archives, as well as search for specific points in history utilizing a keyword search. Although a lack of initial organization or indicator might appear overwhelming, Digital Vaults is a wonderfully imaginative resource for investigating history in a digitally compiled way.
Teach Docs With DocsTeach, educators can create interactive history activities that incorporate more than 3,000 primary-source substances in many different media in the National Archives. Tools on the website are made to teach critical thinking abilities and incorporate interactive elements such as maps, puzzles, and charts.
Our Records Offers 100 milestone documents, compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration, and drawn primarily from its nationwide holdings, which chronicle United States history from 1776 to 1965. Attributes a teacher’s toolbox and contests for students and teachers.
A great source for advice on a myriad of historical events and personalities. PBS’s assorted and diverse web exhibits supplement their tv series and normally include a summary of every incident, interviews (often with sound bites), a timeline, primary sources, a glossary, photographs, maps, and links to pertinent websites. PBS productions comprise American Experience, Frontline and People’s Century. Proceed to the PBS Teacher Source for activities and lessons — arranged by topic.
PBS Teacher Resource Go to the PBS Teacher Source for lessons and activities — organized by subject and grade level — and then subscribe to their newsletter. Categories include American History, World History, History on Television, and Biographies. Many lessons incorporate primary sources. Some courses require watching PBS video, but many do not.
The Smithsonian Education website is divided only into three main classes: Educators, Families, and Students. The Educators section is key word searchable and features lesson plans — lots of pertaining to history. The Students section comes with an interactive”Secrets of the Smithsonian” that educates about the special collections at the Smithsonian.
The Price of Freedom: Americans at War
This Smithsonian website skillfully integrates Flash video and text to analyze armed conflicts involving the U.S. from the Revolutionary War to the war in Iraq. Each conflict contains a brief video clip, statistical information, and a pair of artifacts. There is also a Civil War puzzle, an exhibition self-guide, and a teacher’s guide. The New American Roles (1899-present) segment includes an introductory film and short essay on the conflict in addition to historic images and artifacts.
Edsitement — The Best of the Humanities on the Web EDSITEment is a partnership among the National Endowment for the Humanities, Verizon Foundation, and the National Trust for the Humanities. All sites linked to EDSITEment have been reviewed for content, design, and educational impact in the classroom. This impressive site features reviewed links to top sites, professionally developed lesson plans, classroom activities, materials to assist with daily classroom planning, and search engines. You can search lesson plans by subcategory and grade level; middle school lessons are the most numerous.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
There’s a lot of quality stuff for art students, educators, and fans at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art web site. Start with the Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline of Art History, a chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of the history of art from across the world. Each timeline page incorporates representative art from the Museum’s collection, a graph of time periods, a map of the area, an overview, and a listing of important events. The timelines — accompanied by regional, world, and sub-regional maps — provide a linear outline of art history, and permit people to compare and contrast art from around the globe at any moment in history. There’s plenty more here besides the Timeline:”Just for Fun” has interactive activities for children,”A Closer Look” assesses the”hows and whys” behind Met objects (like George Washington Crossing the Delaware),”Artist” enables visitors to get biographical stuff on a selection of artists in addition to general information about their work, and”Topics and Cultures” presents past and current cultures with special features on the Met’s collections and exhibitions.
C-SPAN from the Classroom
Access C-SPAN’s complete program archives including all videos. C-SPAN in the Classroom is a free membership service which features advice and resources to aid educators in their use of primary source, public events movie out of C-SPAN television. You do not need to become a member to utilize C-SPAN online tools in your classroom, but also membership includes entry to teaching ideas, activities and classroom tools.
This impressive website from Steven Mintz at the University of Houston includes an up-to-date U.S. history textbook; annotated primary resources on United States, Mexican American, and Native American history, and slavery; and succinct essays on the history of ethnicity and immigration, film, private life, and science and technology. Visual histories of Lincoln’s America and America’s Reconstruction contain text by Eric Foner and Olivia Mahoney. The Doing History feature lets users rebuild the past through the voices of children, gravestones, advertisements, and other primary sources. Reference resources include classroom handouts, chronologies, encyclopedia articles, glossaries, along with an abysmal archive including speeches, book discussions and e-lectures by historians, and historical maps, songs, newspaper articles, and images. The site’s Ask the HyperHistorian feature lets users pose questions to professional historians.
Civil Rights Special Collection
The Teachers’ Domain Civil Rights Collection is Made by WGBH Boston, in partnership with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Washington University in St. Louis. Materials are free but you must sign up. Features an impressive selection of sound, video, and text resources out of Frontline and American Experience reveals, Eyes on the Prize, along with other resources. Also offers an interactive Civil Rights movement deadline and four lesson plans: Campaigns for Financial Freedom/Re-Examining Brown/Taking a Stand/Understanding White Supremacy.
Science and Technology of World War II
Some of the most impressive technology improvements of the modern age occurred during World War II and the National World War II Memorial has 8000 objects directly linked to science and engineering. This impressive exhibit contains an animated timeline, activities (such as sending encrypted messages), professional sound responses to science and technology questions, lesson plans, a quiz, essays, and much more. An impressive presentation.
Voting America: United States Politics, 1840-2008
Voting America examines long-term patterns in presidential elections politics in the USA from the 1840s to now in addition to some patterns in recent congressional election politics. The job delivers a vast spectrum of interactive and animated visualizations of how Americans voted in elections over the past 168 years. The visualizations may be used to explore individual elections beyond the state level down to individual counties, which allows for more complex analysis. The interactive maps emphasize exactly how significant third parties have played in American political history. You could even find expert analysis and comment videos which share a few of the most intriguing and important trends in American political history.
Do Background: Martha Ballard
DoHistory invites you to explore the process of piecing together the lives of regular people previously. It is an experimental, interactive case study based on the research that went to the book and PBS film A Midwife’s Tale, which were both based upon the remarkable 200 year old diary of midwife/healer Martha Ballard. There are hundreds and hundreds of downloadable pages from original documents: diaries, letters, maps, court records, town records, and more as well as a searchable copy of this twenty-seven year diary of Martha Ballard. DoHistory engages users interactively with historic artifacts and documents from the past and introduces people to the pivotal questions and issues raised when”doing” history. DoHistory was developed and preserved by the Film Study Center at Harvard University and is hosted and maintained by the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University.
The Valley of the Shadows The Valley of the Shadow depicts two communities, one Northern and one Southern, through the experience of the American Civil War. The project targets Augusta County, Virginia and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and it presents a hypermedia archive of thousands of sources that makes a social history of the forthcoming, fighting, and aftermath of the Civil War. These sources include newspapers, letters, diaries, photographs, maps, church records, population census, agricultural census, and military records. Students may explore the conflict and write their own histories or rebuild the life stories of girls, African Americans, farmers, politicians, soldiers, and families. The project is meant for secondary schools, community colleges, libraries, and universities.
Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704
The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association/Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, Massachusetts has launched a rich and impressive website which focuses on the 1704 raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, with the objective of commemorating and reinterpreting the occasion from the viewpoints of all of the cultural groups who were current — Mohawk, Abenaki, Huron, French, and English. The site brings together many resources — historical scenes, stories of people’s lives, historic artifacts and papers, essays, voices and tunes, historic maps, along with a deadline — to illuminate broad and rival perspectives with this dramatic event.
Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition
The Missouri Historical Society has developed a comprehensive award-winning website and web-based curriculum designed to complement their Lewis and Clark, The National Bicentinnal Exhibiton. Written for grades 4-12, the components concentrate on nine major topics of the display and feature hundreds of primary sources in the exhibit. The curriculum uses the Lewis and Clark expedition as the case studies for larger themes such as Diplomacy, Mapping, Animals, Language, and Trade and Property. It presents both the Euro-American perspective and a particular Native American perspective. The online exhibit has two sections. One is a thematic approach that highlights the content from the main galleries of this display. The other is a map-based journey which follows the expedition and presents main sources on the way, such as interviews with present-day Native Americans.
The Sport of Life and Death
The Sport of Life and Death was voted Best Site for 2002 by Museums and the Internet and has won a slew of other internet awards. The website is based on a traveling exhibition now showing at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey and bills itself as”an online travel into the ancient spectacle of gods and athletes.” The Sport of Life and Death features dazzling special effects courtesy of Macromedia Flash technologies and its general design and organization are excellent. You will find helpful interactive maps, timelines, and samples of artwork in the Explore the Mesoamerican World section. The focus of the website, however, is the Mesoamerican ballgame, the oldest organized sport ever. The sport is explained through a gorgeous and engaging combination of images, text, expert commentary, and video. Visitors can also compete in a contest!
The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory
A top notch exhibition created by the Chicago Historical Society and Northwestern University. There are two big parts: the history of Chicago from the 19th century, and also the way the Chicago Fire has been remembered over time. Included are essays, galleries, and sources.
Technology at the U.S. History in the Classroom
Here are some creative, engaging and technology-infused classes & internet sites on U.S. History:
“Day in Life of Hobo” podcast
This interdisciplinary creative writing/historical simulation activity incorporates blogging and podcasting and calls on students to research the plight of displaced teenagers during the Great Depression and then create their own fictionalized account of a day in the life span of a Hobo. This project is going to probably be included in the spring edition of Social Education, published by the National Council of Social Studies.
“Telling Their Stories” — Oral History Archive Project of the Urban School
Visit”Telling Their Stories” and read, watch, and listen to possibly the best student-created oral history project at the country. High School students at the Urban School of San Francisco have generated three impressive oral history interviews featured at this site: Holocaust Survivors and Refugees, World War II Camp Liberators, and Japanese-American Internees. Urban school students conducted, filmed, and transcribed interviews, generated countless movie files associated with each transcript, then posted the full-text, full-video interviews on this public website. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has recognized Urban School’s Telling Their Stories project using a Top Edge Recognition award for excellence in technology integration. Teachers interested in conducting an oral history project can contact Urban School technology manager Howard Levin and should consider attending his summer teacher workshop.
Student News Action Network
This student-produced current events diary includes contributions from around the world and is directed by five student-bureaus: The American School of Doha, Bishops Diocesan College, International School Bangkok, International School of Luxembourg, along with Washington International School. The pupils have adopted the free Ning platform and far-flung students work collaboratively to create an interactive, multimedia-rich, and student-driven online newspaper.
“Great Debate of 2008″
Tom Daccord created a wiki and a personal online social network for its”Great Debate of 2008” project, a student exploration and discussion of issues and candidates surrounding the 2008 presidential election. The project connected pupils across the country at a wiki and a private online social network to share information and ideas related to the 2008 presidential election. Pupils post advice on campaign issues to the wiki and partake in online discussions and survey together with different pupils in the personal online social network.
The Flat Classroom Project
The award-winning Flat Classroom job brings together large school and middle school students from around the world to learn more about the notions presented in Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat. These collaborative projects harness the most effective Web 2.0 tools available including wikis, online social networks, digital storytelling, podcasts, social bookmarking, and more.