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Best U.S. History Web Sites

Library of Congress

An outstanding and valuable site for American history and general studies. Includes primary and secondary documents, displays, map sets, prints and photos, audio recordings and motion pictures. The Library of Congress American Memory Historical Collections, a must-see, contains the majority of digitalized substances, but the Exhibitions Gallery is enticing and enlightening as well. The Library of Congress also offers a Learning Page that provides tools, activities, thoughts, and attributes for teachers and students.
The Library of Congress American Memory in particular is an outstanding resource for American history and general studies. Contained are multimedia collections of photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures, and text that is unread. Utilize the Teachers department to research primary set collections and themed resources. Teachers can get updates on new programs, professional development opportunities, and Library programs, events and providers.
The Library of Congress: Teachers
The new Library of Congress Teachers page provides resources and tools for using Library of Congress primary source documents from the classroom and contain excellent lesson plans, document analysis tools, online and offline tasks, timelines, presentations and professional development tools.
Center for History and New Media: History Matters
A Creation of this American Social History Project/Center of Media and Learning, City of University New York, along with the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, History Matters is an Excellent online resource for history teachers and pupils. Among the many digital resources are lesson plans, syllabi, links, and exhibits. The Center for History and New Media’s resources include a listing of”best” web sites, links to syllabi and lesson plans, essays on history and new media, a link to their excellent History Topics web site for U.S. History, and more. The CHNM History News Network is a weekly web-based magazine which has articles by several historians. Resources are designed to benefit specialist historians, high school instructors, and students of the history.
Teaching American History
This is a fantastic assortment of thoughtful and comprehensive lesson plans and other tools on teaching American history. Each project Was Made by educators in Virginia in a Center for History and New Media workshop. All projects include a variety of lesson plans and tools, and a few even offer educational videos on supply evaluation. The lesson plans cover a range of subjects in American history and use engaging and interesting resources, activities, discussion questions, and assessments. Take your time browsing–you will find many to select from.
National Archives and Records Administration
The NARA delivers federal archives, exhibits, classroom tools, census records, Hot Topics, and much more. In addition to its paper holdings (which will circle the Earth 57 times) it has more than 3.5 billion digital records. Users can research individuals, locations, events and other popular topics of interest, as well as ancestry and military documents. There are also features displays drawing from a lot of those NARA’s favorite sources. One of the most requested 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 comprises incorporates U.S. main documents and its excellent teaching activities correlate to the National History Standards and National Standards for Civics and Government. Lessons are organized by averaging age, from 1754 to the present.
Digital Vaults
The National Archives Experience: Digital Vaults is an interactive exploration of history that examines thousands of documents, photographs, and parts of history that have been integrated in a digital format. Upon going into the homepage, the user is given eight arbitrary archives to select from. Clicking on one will give a description and a brief record of the archive, as well as displays a huge variety of archives that are similar. The consumer has the capability to shuffle, rearrange, gather, and explore archives, in addition to search for specific points in history using a keyword search. Even though too little initial organization or index might seem overpowering, Digital Vaults is a superbly imaginative source for investigating history in a compiled manner.
Teach Docs With DocsTeach, educators can create interactive background activities that incorporate over 3,000 primary-source substances in a variety of media from the National Archives. Tools on the website are designed to teach critical thinking skills and incorporate interactive components such as puzzles, maps, and graphs.
Our Documents 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.
PBS Online
A fantastic resource for information on a myriad of historical events and characters. PBS’s assorted and diverse web exhibits supplement their television series and normally include a list of every incident, interviews (often with sound bites), a timeline, primary sources, a glossary, photos, maps, and links to relevant sites. PBS productions comprise American Experience, Frontline and People’s Century. Proceed to the PBS Teacher Source for activities and lessons — arranged by subject.
PBS Teacher Resource Go to the PBS Teacher Source for lessons and activities — arranged by topic 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 lessons require watching PBS video, but many do not.
Smithsonian Education
The Smithsonian Education website is divided simply into three main categories: Educators, Families, and Students. The Educators section is key word searchable and includes lesson programs — lots of pertaining to background. The Students section comes with an interactive”Keys of the Smithsonian” that teaches about the special collections at the Smithsonian.
The Cost of Freedom: Americans at War
This Smithsonian website skillfully integrates Flash video and text to examine armed conflicts between the U.S. in the Revolutionary War to the war in Iraq. Each conflict includes a brief video clip, statistical advice, and a set 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 brief essay on the battle as well as historic images and artifacts.
Edsitement — The Best of the Humanities on the Internet EDSITEment is a partnership among the National Endowment for the Humanities, Verizon Foundation, and the National Trust for the Humanities. All websites linked to EDSITEment have been reviewed for content, design, and educational impact in the classroom. This impressive website features reviewed links to top sites, professionally developed lesson plans, classroom activities, materials to assist with daily classroom planning, and search engines. You are able to search lesson plans from subcategory and grade level; middle school courses are the most numerous.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
There is much quality material for art students, teachers, and enthusiasts at 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 includes representative artwork from the Museum’s collection, a chart of time periods, a map of the area, an overview, and a listing of key events. The timelines — accompanied by regional, world, and sub-regional maps — provide a linear outline of art history, and permit visitors to compare and contrast art from around the globe at any moment in history. There is 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 as well as general details about their job, 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 containing all videos. C-SPAN in the Classroom is a free membership service which features advice and resources to aid educators in their use of source, public affairs video out of C-SPAN television. You don’t have to be a member to use C-SPAN online resources in your classroom, but membership includes entry to teaching ideas, activities and classroom applications.
Digital History
This impressive site from Steven Mintz at the University of Houston comes with an up-to-date U.S. history textbook; annotated primary sources on United States, Mexican American, and Native American background, and slavery; and succinct essays about the background of ethnicity and immigration, film, private life, and science and engineering. Visual histories of Lincoln’s America and America’s Reconstruction contain text from Eric Foner and Olivia Mahoney. The Doing History feature lets users rebuild the past through the voices of children, gravestones, advertising, 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 produced by WGBH Boston, in partnership with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Washington University at St. Louis. Materials are free but you must sign up. Features an impressive array of audio, video, and text sources from Frontline and American Experience shows, Eyes on the Prize, along with other resources. Also offers an interactive Civil Rights movement timeline and four lesson plans: Campaigns for Economic Freedom/Re-Examining Brown/Taking a Stand/Understanding White Supremacy.
Science and Technology of World War II
One of the most remarkable technology advancements of the modern age occurred during World War II along with the National World War II Memorial has 8000 objects directly linked to science and engineering. This impressive display includes an animated timeline, actions (such as sending encrypted messages), expert audio answers to science and technology questions, lesson plans, a quiz, essays, and much more. An impressive demonstration.
Voting America: United States Politics, 1840-2008
Voting America assesses long-term patterns in presidential elections politics in the United States in the 1840s to now in addition to several patterns lately congressional election politics. The project delivers a vast spectrum of interactive and animated visualizations of the way Americans voted in elections within the last 168 decades. The visualizations can be used to research individual elections past the country level down to different counties, which allows for more sophisticated analysis. The interactive maps emphasize exactly how significant third parties have played in American political history. You could also locate expert analysis and comment videos that discuss some of the most intriguing and important trends in American political history.
Do History: Martha Ballard
DoHistory invites you to explore the process of piecing together the lives of ordinary men and women 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 much more as well as a searchable copy of this twenty-seven year diary of Martha Ballard. DoHistory engages users interactively with historical artifacts and documents from the past and introduces visitors to the pivotal questions and problems raised when”doing” history. DoHistory was developed and maintained 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 Dead 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 poses a hypermedia archive of thousands of sources that creates a social history of the coming, fighting, and aftermath of the Civil War. Those sources include newspapers, letters, diaries, photos, maps, church records, population census, agricultural census, and military records. Students can explore the conflict and write their own histories or rebuild the life stories of women, African Americans, farmers, politicians, soldiers, and families. The project is intended 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 that focuses on the 1704 raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, with the objective of commemorating and reinterpreting the event from the viewpoints of all the cultural groups who were present — 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, historical 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 web site 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 important themes of the exhibit and feature tens of thousands of primary sources from the display. The curriculum uses the Lewis and Clark expedition as case studies for larger themes like 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 segments. One is a thematic approach that highlights the material in the main galleries of this display. Another is a map-based travel which follows the expedition and presents main sources along the way, such as interviews with present-day Native Americans.
The Sport of Life and Death
The Sport of Life and Death has been voted Best Overall Site for 2002 by the Internet and has won a ton of other internet awards. The site is based on a traveling exhibition now showing at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey and bills itself as”an online travel to the ancient spectacle of gods and athletes.” The Sport of Life and Death features dazzling special effects courtesy of Macromedia Flash technology and its overall design and organization are excellent. You will find useful interactive maps, timelines, and samples of art in the Explore the Mesoamerican World section. The attention of the site, however, is the Mesoamerican ballgame, the oldest organized sport ever. The sport is clarified through a beautiful and engaging combination of text, images, expert commentary, and video. Visitors can also compete in a competition!
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 background of Chicago from the 19th century, and also how the Chicago Fire has been remembered over time. Included are essays, galleries, and resources.
Tech in the U.S. History in the Classroom
Here are some innovative, engaging and technology-infused lessons & internet sites on U.S. History:
“Day in Life of Hobo” podcast
This interdisciplinary creative writing/historical simulation action incorporates blogging and podcasting and requires students to find out more about the plight of homeless teenagers through the Great Depression and then make their own fictionalized account of a day in the life span of a Hobo. This undertaking will 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 see, watch, and listen to perhaps the very best student-created oral history project in the nation. High School students at the Urban School of San Francisco have produced three notable 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, created hundreds of movie files associated with each transcript, then posted the full-text, full-video interviews on the public site. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has acknowledged Urban School’s Telling Their Stories project with a Leading 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 ought to think about attending his summer teacher workshop.
Student News Action Network
This student-produced current events diary features 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 paper.
“Great Debate of 2008″
Tom Daccord created a wiki and a private online social media for its”Great Debate of 2008” job, a student exploration and discussion of candidates and issues surrounding the 2008 presidential elections. The job connected pupils around the country at a wiki and a private online social network to share ideas and information related to the 2008 presidential elections. Pupils post advice on campaign issues to the wiki and partake in online discussions and survey together with different students in the private online social network.
The Flat Classroom Project
The award-winning Flat Classroom project brings together large school and middle school students from around the world to learn more about the ideas presented in Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat. These collaborative projects harness the most powerful Web 2.0 tools available including wikis, online social networks, digital storytelling, podcasts, social bookmarking, and more.

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