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Best U.S. History Web Sites

Library of Congress

An outstanding and invaluable site for American history and general research. Includes primary and secondary files, exhibits, map collections, prints and photographs, sound recordings and motion images. The Library of Congress American Memory Historical Collections, a must-see, contains 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 tools, activities, thoughts, and attributes 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 photographs, recorded sound, moving images, and text that is unread. Utilize the Teachers department to research primary set collections and themed tools. 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 for using Library of Congress primary source records in the classroom and contain exceptional lesson plans, record analysis tools, offline and online 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, along with the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, History Matters is a wonderful online resource for history teachers and students. One of the numerous digital resources are lesson plans, syllabi, links, and displays. 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 media, a link for their excellent History Matters web site for U.S. History, and more. The CHNM History News Network is a weekly web-based magazine which has articles by various historians. Resources are designed to benefit specialist historians, higher school teachers, and students of the history.
Teaching American History
This is a fantastic assortment of thoughtful and thorough lesson plans and other resources on teaching history. Each job Was Made by teachers in Virginia at a Center for History and New Media workshop. All projects include many different lesson plans and tools, and a few even provide instructional videos on supply evaluation. The lesson plans cover a range of subjects in American history and utilize 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 delivers federal archives, exhibits, classroom resources, census documents, Hot Topics, and more. In addition to its paper holdings (which will circle the Earth 57 days ) it has more than 3.5 billion electronic records. Users can research individuals, places, events and other popular themes of interest, in addition to ancestry and military documents. Additionally, there are features exhibits drawing from a lot of the NARA’s popular sources. Among the most asked holdings are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, WWII photos, and the Bill of Rights.
The National Archives: Teachers’ Resources
The National Archives Lesson Plans section comprises incorporates U.S. main documents and its exceptional teaching activities correlate to the National History Standards and National Standards for Civics and Government. Courses are organized by chronological era, from 1754 to the present.
Digital Vaults
The National Archives Experience: Digital Vaults is an interactive exploration of history that assesses thousands of files, photographs, and parts of history that have been integrated in an electronic format. Upon going into the homepage, the consumer is given eight random archives to select from. Clicking on one will give a description and a brief record of the archive, as well as exhibits a large assortment of archives that are similar. The consumer has the ability to shuffle, rearrange, collect, and explore archives, as well as search for specific points in history using a keyword search. Even though too little initial organization or indicator might seem overwhelming, Digital Vaults is a superbly imaginative resource for investigating history in a compiled manner.
Teach Documents With DocsTeach, educators can create interactive history activities that incorporate more than 3,000 primary-source materials in many different media from the National Archives. Tools on the site are designed to teach critical thinking skills and integrate interactive components 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, that chronicle United States history from 1776 to 1965. Features a teacher’s toolbox and competitions for teachers and students.
PBS Online
A great source for information on a myriad of historic events and personalities. PBS’s assorted and varied web exhibits supplement their television show 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 websites. PBS productions include American Experience, Frontline and People’s Century. Proceed to the PBS Teacher Source for activities and lessons — organized by subject.
PBS Teacher Resource Go to the PBS Teacher Source for lessons and activities — arranged by topic and grade level — and subscribe to their newsletter. Groups include American History, World History, History on Television, and Biographies. Many lessons include primary sources. Some courses require viewing PBS video, but many don’t.
Smithsonian Education
The Smithsonian Education website is divided only into three main categories: Educators, Families, and Students. The Educators section is keyword searchable and includes lesson programs — many pertaining to background. The Students section comes with an interactive”Keys of the Smithsonian” that educates about the special collections in 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 battle contains a brief video clip, statistical information, 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 contains an introductory film and short essay on the conflict as well as historic artifacts and images.
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 websites linked to EDSITEment have been reviewed for content, design, and educational impact in the classroom. This impressive site features reviewed links to top websites, professionally developed lesson plans, classroom activities, materials to help with daily classroom planning, and search engines. You can search lesson plans by subcategory and grade level; middle school courses are the most numerous.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
There is much quality stuff for art students, educators, 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 around the world. Each timeline page incorporates representative art from the Museum’s collection, a chart of time periods, a map of the region, an overview, and a list of important events. The timelines — accompanied by regional, world, and sub-regional maps — supply a linear outline of art history, and permit visitors to compare and contrast art from across the globe at any time ever. There is plenty more here besides the Timeline:”Just for Fun” has interactive activities for kids,”A Closer Look” examines the”hows and whys” behind Met objects (such as George Washington Crossing the Delaware),”Artist” enables visitors to access biographical materials on a choice of artists in addition to general information regarding their job, and”Themes and Cultures” presents past and present cultures with special features on the Met’s collections and exhibitions.
C-SPAN in the Classroom
Access C-SPAN’s complete app archives containing all videos. C-SPAN from the Classroom is a free membership service that features information and resources to assist teachers in their use of source, public affairs video out of C-SPAN television. You don’t need to become a member to utilize C-SPAN online resources in your classroom, but also membership includes access to teaching ideas, tasks 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 resources on United States, Mexican American, and Native American history, and captivity; and succinct essays about the background of ethnicity and immigration, film, personal life, and science and technology. Visual histories of Lincoln’s America and America’s Reconstruction contain text from Eric Foner and Olivia Mahoney. The Doing Background feature lets users reconstruct 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 talks and e-lectures by historians, and historical maps, music, newspaper articles, and graphics. 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 have to sign up. Features an impressive array of audio, video, and text resources out of Frontline and American Experience reveals, Eyes on the Prize, and other resources. Also offers an interactive Civil Rights movement timeline 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 along with the National World War II Memorial has 8000 objects directly related to science and engineering. This impressive exhibit contains an animated timeline, activities (such as sending encoded messages), professional sound responses 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 examines long-term patterns in presidential elections politics in the United States in the 1840s to now in addition to some patterns lately congressional election politics. The job offers a wide spectrum of interactive and animated visualizations of the way Americans voted in elections over the past 168 years. The visualizations can be used to research individual elections beyond the country level down to different counties, which allows for more complex analysis. The interactive maps emphasize just how significant third parties have played in Western political history. You could even find expert analysis and comment videos which share 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 regular men and women in the past. It’s 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, maps, letters, court records, town records, and more and a searchable copy of this twenty-seven year diary of Martha Ballard. DoHistory engages users interactively with historical documents and artifacts from the past and introduces people to the critical questions and problems raised when”doing” history. DoHistory was designed and preserved by the Film Study Center at Harvard University and is hosted and maintained by the Middle for History and New Media, George Mason University.
The Valley of the Shadows The Valley of the Shadow depicts two communities, 1 Northern and one Southern, through the experience of the American Civil War. The project focuses on Augusta County, Virginia and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and it presents a hypermedia archive of thousands of resources that makes a social history of their coming, combating, and aftermath of the Civil War. Those sources include newspapers, letters, diaries, photographs, maps, church records, population census, agricultural census, and military records. Students may learn more about the conflict and write their own histories or reconstruct the life stories of women, African Americans, farmers, politicians, soldiers, and families. The project is meant for secondary schools, community schools, 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 goal of commemorating and reinterpreting the occasion from the perspectives of all the cultural groups who were present — Mohawk, Abenaki, Huron, French, and English. The site brings together many sources — historical scenes, stories of people’s lives, historical artifacts and papers, essays, voices and tunes, historic maps, along with a timeline — to light broad and rival perspectives on this dramatic event.
Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition
The Missouri Historical Society has developed a comprehensive award-winning website and on-line program developed to match their own Lewis and Clark, The National Bicentinnal Exhibiton. Written for grades 4-12, the components concentrate on nine major topics of the display and feature tens of thousands of primary sources from the display. The program uses the Lewis and Clark expedition as the case studies for larger themes like Diplomacy, Mapping, Animals, Language, and Trade and Property. It presents both the Euro-American standpoint and a particular Native American perspective. The internet display has two segments. One is a thematic approach that highlights the material from the main galleries of the display. Another is a map-based travel which follows the expedition and presents primary sources on the way, including interviews with present-day Native Americans.
The Sport of Life and Death
The Sport of Life and Death has been voted Best Site for 2002 by Museums and the Internet and has won a ton of other web awards. The website is based on a traveling exhibition currently showing at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey and bills itself as”an online journey to the ancient spectacle of athletes and gods.” The Sport of Life and Death features dazzling special effects courtesy of Macromedia Flash technologies and its general layout and organization are excellent. There are helpful interactive maps, timelines, and samples of artwork in the Explore the Mesoamerican World section. The attention of the site, however, is the Mesoamerican ballgame, the oldest organized sport in history. The game is clarified through a gorgeous and engaging combination of images, text, expert commentary, and movie. 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 major components: the history of Chicago in the 19th century, and also how the Chicago Fire was recalled over time. Included are essays, galleries, and sources.
Technology at the U.S. History in the Classroom
Here are some innovative, 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 requires students to find out more about the plight of displaced teenagers through the Great Depression and then make their own fictionalized account of a day in the life span of a Hobo. This undertaking is going to 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, see, and listen to possibly the very best student-created oral history project at the country. High School students in 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 ran, filmed, and transcribed interviews, created countless movie files associated with each transcript, then posted the full-text, full-video interviews with the public website. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has recognized Urban School’s Telling Their Stories project using a Leading Edge Recognition award for excellence in engineering 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, and Washington International School. The pupils have cleverly adopted the free Ning platform and far-flung pupils work tirelessly to create an interactive, multimedia-rich, and student-driven online paper.
“Great Debate of 2008″
Tom Daccord produced a wiki and a personal online social media for the”Great Debate of 2008” job, a student exploration and discussion of candidates and issues surrounding the 2008 presidential election. The project connected pupils across the country in a wiki and a personal online social network to share information and ideas related to the 2008 presidential election. Students post information on campaign issues into the wiki and partake in online discussions and survey together with different pupils in the private online social networking.
The Flat Classroom Project
The award-winning Flat Classroom job brings together high school and middle school students from all over the world to explore 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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