Early Imperialism Web Sites

Crucible of Empire: The Spanish-American War ★★★★☆
This site offers a timeline of the major events before, during, and after the war; original 1890s sheet music popular during the War; photographs of the major figures involved; newspaper articles and headlines from 1890s newspapers; classroom activities for teachers and students; historical resources, including recent scholarship concerning the war, bibliographies, and links to other web sites; and a quiz designed to test visitor knowledge about the war and this colorful moment in American history.

The World of 1898: The Spanish American War ★★★★☆
This Library of Congress presentation provides resources and documents about the Spanish-American War, and focuses on key individuals who participated in actual fighting or contributed literary commentary. The presentation includes chronologies, bibliographies, and a variety of pictorial and textual material from Spanish-English sources, an overview essay, and special presentations on Cuba, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Spain.

Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age ★★★★☆
Created by the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress, this site seeks to inform and educate about Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century Puerto Rico and how it became a modern nation. An article by Marisabel Brás, a Senior Analyst at the Department of Defense, provides an excellent and in depth report on the struggles through which Puerto Rice went to find its national identity. There are also18 Puerto Rican maps and 39 political pamphlets, 13 monographs, and a journal that were published between 1831 and 1929. For each item, the full text is provided as well as images of the authentic document.

A War in Perspective: Public Appeals, Memory, and the Spanish American Conflict ★★★★☆
A War in Perspective was an exhibition at The New York Public Library Humanities and Social Sciences Library and includes several components: Chronology, Antecedents 1895-1898, Part II: Public Appeals, 1898, Part III: Popular Participation, 1898-1899, Part IV: Public Memories, Part V: Historical Perspectives.

Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures ★★★★☆
This presentation features 68 motion pictures produced between 1898 and 1901 of the Spanish-American War and the subsequent Philippine Revolution. These films were made by the Edison Manufacturing Company and the American Mutoscope & Biograph Company and consist of actualities filmed in the U.S., Cuba, and the Philippines, showing troops, ships, notable figures, and parades, as well as reenactments of battles and other war-time events. The Special Presentation presents the motion pictures in chronological order together with brief essays that provide a historical context for their filming.

The Age of Imperialism ★★★★☆
Commercial site, but contains a good mix of text, photos, links, and video clips about American imperialism at the turn of the century. Also includes a critical-thinking lesson plan to help students understand what motivated the United States to adopt expansionism and imperialism in the nineteenth century.

‘Iolani Palace Resources and Activities ★★★★☆
Elementary and middle school students will enjoy these engaging offerings from ‘Iolani Palace, the former home of the Hawaiian monarchy and the only royal residence on U.S. soil. Today a museum, it also offers virtual tours, online galleries, and short videos for learning about Hawaiian and American history.

Cruise of the Great White Fleet ★★★★☆
This is a thorough and richly detailed article about the famous, worldwide voyage of the White Fleet. Published by the Naval History and Heritage Command itself, the article is punctuated with historical photographs and entertaining anecdotes.

Panama Canal Museum Timeline ★★★☆☆
This timeline provides a detailed history of the Panama Canal from the early days of the French construction period, to its completion by the United States, and into the present. Part of a larger site that includes historical photographs, extensive digital collections, and fun facts about the canal.

Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet”: Topics in Chronicling America ★★★★☆
This Library of Congress research guide gives a brief overview of the Great White Fleet and provides links to newspaper articles and other historical documents mentioning the fleet and its voyage.

McKinley Assassination Ink ★★★☆☆
This collection currently contains 140 documents, articles, essays, editorials and other pieces of work that are helpfully indexed by author, date, title, type, keyword, source, and the people referenced in the document. The MAI aims not only to provide a view into the presidency and assassination of McKinley, but also to speak to the history and culture of America. Due to the sensationalist nature of journalism at the time, and the tragic nature of the event, some reports may be more useful as tools to interpret the emotions and themes of the time than as strict factual evidence.

The Spanish American War Centennial Website ★★★☆☆
The centennial is ten years past, but though this site is dated it has plenty of information on the Spanish-American War, in multiple categories. Apart from the usual accounts of battles and such, there are dozens of profiles of key Americans of the era, reports of Spanish who died captive in America, music and medicine of the war, a video bibliography, and much more.

The Second War for Cuban Independence ★★★☆☆
Aka “The Spanish-Cuban-American War,” this section is part of the HistoryOfCuba.com site produced by Cuban-born freelance writer and photographer Jerry A. Sierra. It discusses circumstances before, during, and after the Spanish-American War. Content not actively maintained.

Essays: Manifest Destiny ★★★☆☆
Part of the From Revolution to Reconstruction project, this page leads to a series of helpful essays that discuss the philosophy, components, and “shades” of manifest destiny.

Hawaii’s Last Queen (PBS) ★★★☆☆
This is a PBS video companion site about Hawaiian Queen Lili’uokalani and her legacy. Following her succession to the in 1891, Lili’uokalani worked to draft a constitution that would restore power to native Hawaiians. But, the US government effectively revoked Hawaii’s favored status in the American sugar market and Lili’uokalani’s kingdom was on the brink of collapse. Includes a timeline, quiz, teacher’s guide, and bibliography.

TR’s Legacy: The Panama Canal ★★★☆☆
A brief discussion of President Theodore’s legacy in regards to the Panama Canal. Features a short video clip and supplementary articles.

Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides, Activities and more

Spanish American War Educational Activities
The PBS Crucible of Empire site offers essay questions and a Spanish American War quiz

Liliuokalani: Hawaii’s Last Queen
This lesson plan is based on the life of Queen Liliuokalani, the final queen of the Hawaiian Kingdom, who was overthrown in a violent coup d’etat. The annexation of Hawaii was a contentious issue, and remains important to this day–especially for the one-and-a-half million people living on the once-sovereign territory of the Kingdom of Hawaii. The lesson draws special attention to the queen’s profound musical legacy. Students will interpret the lyrics to songs written by the queen, including the famous Aloha ‘Oe. See also ‘Iolani Palace: A Hawaiian Place of History, Power, and Prestige.

Debate: Should the U.S. Annex the Philippines?
In this activity, students analyze primary documents from a variety of perspectives to gain an understanding of contemporary arguments for and against U.S. annexation of the Philippines. After reading the documents, students choose one document, prepare their arguments, and debate U.S. annexation of the Philippines from the perspective of the author of their document. Provided by the American Social History Project.

Poetry Analysis: “The White Man’s Burden”
This activity asks students to consider Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden”, which urged the U. S. to take up the “burden” of empire. Designed for high school students, this interdisciplinary activity will help students to examine differing perspectives on imperialism at the turn of the century. Provided by the American Social History Project.

Activity: A Soldier’s Letter Home From the Philippines
This activity asks students to read and analyze letters written by U.S. soldiers serving in the Philippine-American War. Designed for high school students, it uses primary documents from the perspective of frontline soldiers to explore questions of imperialism, racial difference, and war in the early twentieth century. Designed by the American Social History Project.

Around the World in 1896 – Lesson Plan
In this lesson, groups of students use photographs and documents from the Library of Congress’s American Memory collections to explore technology and American perceptions of the world at the turn of the century. Students explore technology during this time period by planning a hypothetical trip around the world, being sure to identify the complete means of transportations. They also learn about William Henry Jackson and the development of photography, ultimately using visual images to both document their trip and evaluate contemporary perspectives on foreign cultures. Designed for grades 6 to 8.

Buffalo Soldiers – Lesson Plan
In this Portal to Texas History lesson, students examine the service of African Americans serving in the U.S. Army during the late nineteenth century.

Imperialism (and Humans) on Display: The 1904 World’s Fair
In this lesson, students will investigate the purpose of two “living exhibits,” including the people who were displayed and the appropriateness of such displays. One of the exhibits was designed to introduce visitors to the many nations of the Philippine Islands, a territory that had been conquered by the United States in 1898.

Doing the Decades – Lesson Plan
This is a broad, 10-week project where students focus on the major trends and changes in the United States from 1890 to 1941 and how these changes affected groups and individuals. Students are broken into groups by decade and cover six primary themes (such as immigration, industrialization and the growth of capitalism) and a series of topics. Students identify and utilize primary sources to discuss these changes, using materials from the Library of Congress’ American Memory collections and other materials they gather. Designed for grades 6 to 12.

Becoming a World Power (1865–1916) Self-Test
A multiple-choice quiz by Prentice Hall. Questions are picked randomly from a list.

Playing By Different Rules: Examining American Imperialism Abroad
In this New York Times lesson, students learn about the concept of American imperialism by researching and analyzing historical examples of American imperialism. They then draft a set of laws that would govern the actions of powerful nations in other countries.(September 18, 2002)

Imperial Notions: Examining the Effects of Colonialism on Peoples Around the World
In this New York Times lesson, students research how and why different parts of the world were colonized, considering the pros and cons for both the rulers and the ruled.(June 4, 2003)

Interpreting Primary Sources
Digital History provides brief excerpts from primary sources and statistics and also questions to think about Imperialism and the Spanish American War

Digital History Resource Guides
The Digital Resource Guides provide links to American history web sites by period and provide historical overviews, readings (online textbook chapter, Reader’s Companion), primary source documents (documents, maps, cartoons), teaching resources (chronologies, maps, quizzes), audio-visual resources, and additional resources. The Guides are an excellent and comprehensive teaching resource.

HistoryTeacher.net: AP United States History Quizzes
A New York teacher has produced a great general site for history teachers that offers AP-level United States history quizzes on many different periods and topics.

AP United States History DBQs: 1875-1925
These student-created DBQs are part of the excellent Historyteacher.net site

Hawaii Quiz
From PBS American Experience, this quiz relates to the program Hawaii’s Last Queen.