American History Web Sites and Resources
Library of Congress
An outstanding and invaluable site for American history and general studies. Contains primary and secondary documents, exhibits, map collections, prints and photographs, sound recordings and motion pictures. The Library of Congress American Memory Historical Collections, a must-see, contains the bulk of digitalized materials, but the Exhibitions Gallery is enticing and informative as well. The Library of Congress also offers a Learning Page that provides activities, tools, ideas, and features for educators and students.
- The Library of Congress American Memory in particular is an outstanding resource for American history and general studies. Included are multimedia collections of photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures, and digitized text. Use the Teachers section to explore primary 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 tools and resources for using Library of Congress primary source documents in the classroom and include excellent lesson plans, document analysis tools, online and offline activities, timelines, presentations and professional development resources.
Center for History and New Media: History Matters
A production 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 a wonderful online resource for history teachers and students. Among the many digital resources are lesson plans, syllabi, links, and exhibits. The Center for History and New Media’s resources include a list of “best” web sites, links to syllabi and lesson plans, essays on history and new media, and more. The CHNM History News Network is a weekly web-based magazine that features articles by various historians. Resources are designed to benefit professional historians, high school teachers, and students of history.
Teaching American History
This is a wonderful collection of thoughtful and thorough lesson plans and other resources on teaching American history. Each project was created by teachers in Virginia at a Center for History and New Media workshop. All projects include a variety of lesson plans and resources, and some even offer instructional videos on source analysis. The lesson plans cover a range of topics in American history and utilize interesting and engaging sources, activities, discussion questions, and assessments. Take your time browsing—there are many to choose from.
National Archives and Records Administration
The NARA offers federal archives, exhibits, classroom resources, census records, Hot Topics, and more. In addition to its paper holdings (which would circle the Earth 57 times) it has more than 3.5 billion electronic records. Users can research people, places, events and other popular topics of interest, as well as ancestry and military records. There are also features exhibits drawing from many of the NARA’s popular sources. Among the most requested 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 contains incorporates U.S. primary documents and its excellent teaching activities correlate to the National History Standards and National Standards for Civics and Government. Lessons 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 examines thousands of documents, photographs, and pieces of history that have been integrated in a digital format. The homepage provies a list of categories on the right sidebar such as Citizenship, First Ladies, and Immigration. The user has the ability to shuffle, rearrange, collect, and explore archives, as well as search for specific points in history using a keyword search. Although a lack of initial organization or index might seem overwhelming, Digital Vaults is a wonderfully imaginative resource for exploring history in a digitally compiled way.
- Teach Docs
With DocsTeach, educators can create interactive history activities that incorporate more than 3,000 primary-source materials in a variety of media from the National Archives. Tools on the site are designed to teach critical thinking skills and integrate interactive elements such as puzzles, maps, and charts.
- Our Documents
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 students and teachers.
A great source for information on a myriad of historical events and personalities. PBS’s assorted and diverse web exhibits supplement their television series and generally include a summary of each episode, interviews (often with sound bites), a timeline, primary sources, a glossary, photos, maps, and links to relevant sites.
Smithsonian Learning Lab
The Learning Lab offers content to educators, parents, and students after the creation of a free account. The database is keyword searchable and features lesson plans — many pertaining to history.
- The Price of Freedom: Americans at War
This Smithsonian website skillfully integrates Flash video and text to examine 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 set of artifacts. There is also a Civil War mystery, an exhibition self-guide, and a teacher’s guide. The New American Roles (1899-present) section contains an introductory movie and short essay on the conflict as well as 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 websites 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 help 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 is much quality material for students, educators, and enthusiasts 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 around the world. Each timeline page includes representative art from the Museum’s collection, a chart of time periods, a map of the region, an overview, and a list of key events. The timelines, accompanied by world, regional, and sub-regional maps, provide a linear outline of art history, and allow visitors to compare and contrast art from around the globe at any time in history. In addition to the timeline, the Met provides free downloads of learning activity sets: try these modules for the Gilded Age and American Women Sculptors.
C-SPAN in the Classroom
Access C-SPAN’s complete program archives including all videos. C-SPAN in the Classroom is a free membership service that offers information and resources to assist educators in their use of primary source, public affairs video from C-SPAN television. You do not have to be a member to use C-SPAN online resources in your classroom, but membership includes access to teaching ideas, activities and classroom tools.
This impressive site from Steven Mintz at the University of Houston includes an up-to-date U.S. history textbook; annotated primary sources 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 reconstruct the past through the voices of children, gravestones, advertising, and other primary sources. Reference resources include classroom handouts, chronologies, encyclopedia articles, glossaries, and an audio-visual archive including speeches, book talks and e-lectures by historians, and historical maps, music, newspaper articles, and images. The site’s Ask the HyperHistorian feature allows users to pose questions to professional historians.
The Schools of California Online Resources for Educators (SCORE) project is a terrific resource for teachers and students alike. Here you’ll find reviews of education and history-related web sites, lesson plans, maps, and much more — all arranged by grade level and content area. A must see.
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Gilder Lehrman offers Lesson Plans, Primary Source Documents, Online Exhibitions featuring engaging images, and other content to enrich at-home learning, organized by time period and topic.
An impressive, award-winning site from a New York high school teacher. It features many research links and curriculum resources for Global Studies, U.S. AP History, US European History, and American History and Government. It also has quizzes, news links, and more.
A companion to the television channel, this commercial site contains a myriad of features and highlights for educators and students alike. Key offerings include study guides and activities, ideas from teachers, special exhibits, speech archives, discussions, and “This Day in History.” See also the UK site.
The History Place
This informative site features worthwhile exhibits (eg. American Revolution, Holocaust, Civil War), special presentations, essays, homework aids, and a guide to historic American areas.
Fun, interactive site with plenty of images and easy-to-read content across all eras of American history. A perfect educational site for younger students.
National Council for the Social Studies
National Council for the Social Studies offers support for social studies educators. Links are categorized by themes of the Curriculum Standards for Social Studies. Teachers share classroom experiences at the site and on the NCSS listserv.
WGBH Forum Network
The WGBH Forum Network is a free online archive of public lectures at educational or cultural organizations in the Boston area. Of special historical interest are the series of lectures examining the Civil Rights Movement from Brown v. Board of Education to the civil rights initiatives today. Visitors can browse archived content by category or contributing institution. Visitors download the lectures if desired and subscribers to the WGBH Forum Network RSS|New Lectures feed will receive their listing automatically.
Academic Info: History
Academic Info is a gateway to educational resources; the History Gateway provides links to World History Resources, Country and Regional Histories, Topical Histories, European History, and Additional Sites of Interest.
Smithsonian Learning Lab
The site requires a free account, but offers a myriad of lessons for students and teachers alike from the collections of the Smithsonian. A keyword-searchable database makes relevant resources easy to find.
Teacher Oz’s History Page
An extensive and up-to-date list of humanities-related web sites covering: Ancient History, United States History and Government, The World, Wars and Military History, Middle Ages, Renaissance and The Enlightenment, England, France, Russia, Biographies, Religion, Cultures, and Women, and much more. Sites are usually not described or rated, however.
Voice of the Shuttle: History Page
Part of an extensive guide to humanities resources that provides numerous links to feature sites, teaching resources, electronic journals, course syllabi, and much more.
WWW-VL The History Index
The Central Catalogue provides direct links to network sites through its index and maintains a large number of files of pointers for countries, periods, and subjects for which there is not yet a member site. This Virtual Library is diverse and broad site with links to a multitude of topical historical areas. The scope of the listed categories is impressive, but some topics have a longer reach than others. Maintained by Lynn Nelson, Department of History, University of Kansas.
This worthwhile commercial site contains lesson plans and special features and boasts an impressive sidebar of topics and subcategories. The site is somewhat oddly organized (e.g. Women’s Suffrage is found under “Technology” instead of “History”), but the site is searchable and contains a great number of lessons and links.
Run by a small educational publishing company, this website provides free online materials for major history curriculum subjects. It offers excellent articles on hundreds of historical subjects and also includes lesson plans and discussion questions under the “Resources” header. Visitors can sign up for a free monthly e-mail newsletter covering web reviews and using technology in the history classroom.
Ask ERIC Virtual Library
Produced by the Education Research Information Center (ERIC) this site is an information clearinghouse on 16 specific subject areas. Of special note is its collection of thousands of lesson plans for varied grade levels and subject areas. There is a question-and-answer section and plentiful educational tips and guides.
An annotated guide to the best education-related web sites. Reviews of historical sites are useful and comprehensive, though no distinction is drawn between American and World history. Well organized and reliable.
World History: HyperHistory
Hyper History Online covers 3000 years of history through timelines, lifelines, maps, and graphics. The over 2000 files are grouped into People, History, Events, Maps, Science, Culture, Religion, and Politics. This site contains a lot of information.
School History is a bountiful online history site that offers huge numbers of freely downloadable resources, interactive and entertaining history games and quizzes, and interactive online lessons together with comprehensive links to other online resources.
AwesomeStories.com is free, non-commercial educational web site for educators (as the basis for lesson plans) and students. Stories link to organized primary and secondary source materials found principally at U.S. and other worldwide national archives, museums, libraries, universities, news organizations, and government websites. The purpose of the site (including its eight separate, stand-alone channels) is to take visitors on a virtual guided tour of relevant on-line source materials.
The History News Network
The HistoryNewsNetwork was created in June 2001 and features articles by historians on both the left and the right who provide historical perspective on current events. HNN exists to provide historians and other experts a national forum in which to educate Americans about important and timely issues, and it is the only web site on the Internet wholly devoted to this task. HNN is a nonprofit publication run by George Mason University, is updated daily, and averages roughly 1.5 million hits a month. Those of you who have visited the U.S. History landing page in Best of History Web Sites may have noticed that I link to HNN articles in the “U.S. History in the Making” section.
A great site for history fans, enthusiasts, and students, eHistory consists of over 130,000 pages of historical content; 4,500 timeline events; 800 battle outlines; 300 biographies; and thousands of images and maps.
The Scout Report for Social Sciences(Wisconsin)
Here you’ll find bi-weekly reports that cover select internet sites in the social sciences
The Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) site provides educational resources, including lesson plans and many links to U.S, world, and general history sites. No reviews of sites, however
This non-profit, teacher-to-teacher site is a guide for high school teachers of world history and geography, although much of the content is suitable for teachers of other social studies subjects as well. Content includes fundamental information about history teaching, resources, a concise alternative textbook, and lesson plans.
Conversations With History
In this UC Berkeley site distinguished men and women from all over the world talk about their lives and their work. They reminisce about their participation in great events, and they share their perspectives on the past and reflect on what the future may hold. Guests include diplomats, statesmen, and soldiers; economists and political analysts; scientists and historians; writers and foreign correspondents; activists; and artists.
Social, Economic and Political Change
Social, Political and Economic Change is supported by The International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication. It features links to free resources about long-term changes in social, political, and economic systems. It also links to online history books and lectures. This site includes several reports about sociodemographic changes in the 20th century, as well as very long term historical world population and economic changes.
The Pocahontas Archive and the Literature of Justification
The Pocahontas Archive and The Literature of Justification are two sections of a promising new Lehigh University digital project entitled “History on Trial.” The Pocahontas Archive provides an essay introduction to the legendary figure as well as a searchable bibliography and an image collection. The image collection is particularly interesting; it features varied depictions of Pocahontas from 19th and 20th century sources. The Literature of Justification section presents case studies of European “justification strategies” and American Supreme Court decisions regarding Indian land rights. Of special interest are the “provocative” excerpts from primary and secondary sources and the audio commentary that accompanies some of them. Visitors will also discover a chronological display of documents, a small array of images, a bibliography, and several introductory essays. The creators of History on Trial aim to complete three more sections: Reel American History, Enola Gay Controversy, and Vietnam Wall Controversy. Reel American History will contain student projects on ten films about early America. (For now they are available at http://www.lehigh.edu/ReelAmericanHistory.) Both the Enola Gay and Vietnam Wall sections present the controversies via chronological presentation of documents. Though History on Trail remains under development it already represents an excellent tool for introducing student researchers to the struggle over shaping representations of history.
TeacherServe (National Humanities Center)
TeacherServe is designed to deepen course content by providing convenient access to scholarship tailored to classroom use. It consists of a series of instructional guides on important topics in the humanities on the secondary level.
History Central is offered by MultiEducatory, one of the earliest producers of multimedia software. It provides extensive information on American History and World History, with special sections on diverse subjects ranging from Presidential Elections to Naval History.
History in Focus: What is History?
Focus highlights books, reviews, and web sites that examine the nature of history and assess the changes in historical method and practice.
Economics Resources for K-12 Teachers
EcEdWeb is your headquarters for teaching resources for K-12 or pre-college economics. The menus at the top are designed to work the way you work: if you need a lesson or information on a particular concept (e.g. scarcity), start with Concepts.
History of Economic Thought
This website is a clearinghouse of collected links and information on the history of economic thought, from the ancient times until the modern day.
Clash of Steel
A small team of military historians has put together this site to further the study of military actions throughout history. This team is building a database of military engagements and commanders that can be searched for specific entries. It also powers a ‘Battle of the Day’ feature to which visitors can subscribe. This will e-mail daily information completely free on the anniversaries of actions and engagements. Visitors are also invited to contribute to discussion groups or to add information and entries to the database itself.
National History Day
The website for the award winning history program offers lesson plans and resources to help teachers make history come alive for their students.
Social Studies Central
A resource to help teachers prepare and teach social studies. The web site includes presentation materials and online resources.
The Concord Review
The Concord Review is a respected quarterly journal that has published 550 high school history papers by students from 42 states and 34 countries since 1987. Its web site offers 51 sample essays, including all the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize (now $3000) winners from the last eight years. The National Writing Board, founded in 1998, offers independent assessment of high school history papers from 22 states and sends each author a three-page report, with scores and comments. Both the Concord Review and National Writing Board have received much praise from high school and university educators and administrators.
“Telling Their Stories” – Oral History Archive Project of the Urban School
Visit “Telling Their Stories” and read, watch, and listen to perhaps the best student-created oral history project in the country. High School students at the Urban School of San Francisco have produced five impressive oral histories featured at this site: Holocaust Survivors and Refugees, World War II Camp Liberators, Japanese-American Internees, Stories of the Civil Rights Era, and residents of the historically African-American Fillmore district of San Francisco. Urban school students conducted, filmed, and transcribed interviews, created hundreds of movie files associated with each transcript, and 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 with a Leading Edge Recognition award for excellence in technology integration. Teachers interested in conducting an oral history project can contact Urban School technology director Howard Levin and should consider attending his summer teacher workshop.
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 in St. Louis. Materials are free but you have to sign up. Features an impressive array of audio, video, and text sources from Frontline and American Experience shows, Eyes on the Prize, and other sources. 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.
Voting America: United States Politics, 1840-2008
Voting America examines long-term patterns in presidential election politics in the United States from the 1840s to today as well as some patterns in recent congressional election politics. The project offers a wide spectrum of animated and interactive visualizations of how Americans voted in elections over the past 168 years. The visualizations can be used to explore individual elections beyond the state level down to individual counties, which allows for more sophisticated analysis. The interactive maps highlight just how important third parties have played in American political history. You can also find expert analysis and commentary videos that discuss some of the most interesting and significant trends in American political history.
Do History: Martha Ballard
DoHistory invites you to explore the process of piecing together the lives of ordinary people in the past. It is an experimental, interactive case study based on the research that went into 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 thousands of downloadable pages from original documents: diaries, letters, maps, court records, town records, and more as well as a searchable copy of the twenty-seven year diary of Martha Ballard. DoHistory engages users interactively with historical documents and artifacts from the past and introduces visitors to the pivotal questions and issues 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 Shadows
The Valley of the Shadow depicts two communities, one 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 sources that creates a social history of the coming, fighting, and aftermath of the Civil War. Those sources include newspapers, letters, diaries, photographs, maps, church records, population census, agricultural census, and military records. Students can explore the conflict and write their own histories or reconstruct 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 goal of commemorating and reinterpreting the event from the perspectives of all the cultural groups who were present – Mohawk, Abenaki, Huron, French, and English. The website brings together many resources – historical scenes, stories of people’s lives, historical artifacts and documents, essays, voices and songs, historical maps, and a timeline – to illuminate broad and competing perspectives on this dramatic event.
Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition
The Missouri Historical Society has developed an extensive award-winning web site and web-based curriculum developed to complement their Lewis and Clark, The National Bicentinnal Exhibiton. Written for grades 4-12, the units focus on nine major themes of the exhibit and feature hundreds of primary sources from the exhibit. The curriculum uses the Lewis and Clark expedition as 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 the exhibit. The other is a map-based journey that follows the expedition and introduces primary sources along the way, including interviews with present-day Native Americans.
The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory
A first-rate exhibition created by the Chicago Historical Society and Northwestern University. There are two major parts: the history of Chicago in the 19th century, and how the Chicago Fire has been remembered over time. Included are essays, galleries, and sources.
On This Day
Daily historical facts, events, famous birthdays, world history, United States history, and music history.