Teaching American History Project: Curriculum Resources

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While certainly not inclusive, this list of websites will serve as a starting point for locating a variety of primary source material covering a wide span of historical periods and topics. The first site, by the American Library Association, gives excellent information about working with primary sources.

Using Primary Sources on the Web
This site is not a listing of materials, but an excellent introduction to working with primary sources. It is written by the Instruction and Research Services Committee of the Reference and User Service Association History Section in the American Library Association. It includes such information as: What are Primary Sources, Finding Primary Sources on the Web, Evaluating Primary Source Web Sites, and Citing Web Sites.

American Journeys
The American Journeys site, maintained by the Wisconsin Historical Society, contains more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration, from the sagas of Vikings in Canada in AD1000 to the diaries of mountain men in the Rockies 800 years later. It contains first person accounts of explorers, Indians, missionaries, traders and settlers as they lived through the founding moments of American history. You can view, search, print, or download more than 150 rare books, original manuscripts, and classic travel narratives.

AMDOCS: Documents for the Study of American History
AMDOCS is maintained by George Laughead Jr., manager WWW-VL: United States History, and Kansas History, and by Dr. Lynn H. Nelson, original author, WWW-VL: History, and the History Gateway at Kansas, established in 1993.Kansas Heritage Group founder. Updated: 25 September 2008. WWW Virtual Library @ www.vlib.us

American Presidency Project
The American Presidency Project (also known as americanpresidency.org), maintained by the University of California at Santa Barbara, was established in 1999. The archives contain over 52,000 documents related to the study of the American Presidency. This is the only online resource providing without charge the public papers of the presidents from Hoover to Clinton.

The Authentic History Center:
Primary Sources from American Popular Culture
The Authentic History Center is independently owned and operated by Michael S. Barnes, a teacher at Byron Center High School. This site includes images of artifacts, sounds, and written diaries and letters. The items are organized by time periods. The Diversity Section includes many images of ethnic groups throughout American history. Students are active contributors and users of the site.

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy
This site includes an extensive collection of text primary sources organized by century.

CCSU Veteran's History Project
The Veterans History Project was created in 2000, when the U.S. Congress voted unanimously to preserve and archive the oral histories of men and women who have served in any of our country’s wars or any civilian who supported the war effort.

Connecticut History Online
Connecticut History Online (CHO) is a collaboration between the Connecticut Historical Society, the Connecticut State Library, the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut, Mystic Seaport, and the New Haven Colony Historical Society. The CHO website currently contains about 14,000 images of photographs, drawings and prints which may be searched or browsed in a variety of ways, including by keyword, subject, creator, title and date. Geographical sites may be searched using a Digital Geographic Locator. Descriptions of the images are provided. Online learning tools created especially for middle and high school students provide suggestions for interpreting and exploring the database.

Digital History
This site is organized by Steven Mintz, Professor of History, University of Houston. It contains an online textbook and a variety of sources and resources about American History. Under the “For Teachers”, then “Learning Materials” sections, you can search for documents by selecting a time period. There are a number of useful subsections including a links to recommended documents, images, fact sheets, and lesson plans.

Documenting the American South
This site is a digital publishing initiative from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that provides Internet access to texts, images, and audio files related to Southern history, literature, and culture from the colonial period through the first decades of the 20th century. Currently DocSouth includes seven thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews, and songs.

Findng Primary Source Documents Electronically
This is a selective guide to finding primary source materials for beginning and undergraduate historical research. The University of North Carolina University Libraries maintain rich collections of primary sources in print, microform, and electronic formats. Additionally, there are hundreds of collections of primary source materials available on the Web, and more are added everyday.

From Revolution to Reconstruction…and what happened afterwards
Interestingly, this website of primary sources in American history was started and is maintained by the Department of Alfa-informatica (Computing in the Humanities) University of Groningen, The Netherlands (email : usa@let.rug.nl). The site contains texts of numerous documents arranged chronologically from the 1400s to the present by centuries.

History Matters
Developed by American Social History Project/Center for Media & Learning, City University of New York, and the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, this site was designed for high school and college teachers of American history, but appears to be a very useful site for American history teachers of all grades. The “Many Pasts” feature contains primary documents in text, image, and audio about the experiences of ordinary Americans throughout U.S. history. All of the documents have been screened by professional historians and are accompanied by annotations that address their larger historical significance and context. There are 33 topics and time periods in American history each linked to sites with primary sources. “Making Sense of Documents ” provide strategies for analyzing online primary materials, with interactive exercises and a guide to traditional and online sources. “Scholars in Action ” segments show how scholars puzzle out the meaning of different kinds of primary sources, allowing you to try to make sense of a document yourself then providing audio clips in which leading scholars interpret the document and discuss strategies for overall analysis. This section includes detailed guides for the use of oral histories, films, maps, letters and diaries, advertisements, songs, photographs, inventories of possessions, political cartoons, speeches, newspapers and more.

History Central: Source Documents in American History
This commercial site includes historical information categorized by topics and a collection of primary sources organized by time periods.

History Now
This site, created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History, is an online quarterly journal focusing on one historical topic for each issue. It includes lesson plans (for high school, middle school, and grade 5 teachers) often based on primary sources. There is also an interesting “Ask the Archivist” feature which allows teachers to ask an expert a historical question or for advice on locating materials.

Library of Congress American Memory Collection
American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning. American Memory is a gateway to the Library of Congress’s vast resources of digitized American historical materials. Comprising more than 9 million items that document U.S. history and culture, American Memory is organized into more than 100 thematic collections based on their original format, their subject matter, or who first created, assembled, or donated them to the Library. The original formats include manuscripts, prints, photographs, posters, maps, sound recordings, motion pictures, books, pamphlets, and sheet music.

Memorial Hall Museum Online
This site, maintained by the Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, MA, includes information and some primary source material about the history of New England. It includes samples of primary sources materials (records, diaries, personal and business records, and maps). It also includes a mini-encyclopedia of people, places, and events in New England history.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
NARA, an independent Federal agency, is America's national record keeper. Its mission is to ensure ready access to the essential evidence that documents the rights of American citizens, the actions of Federal officials, and the national experience. Among the treasures available online are the cornerstone documents of our Government — the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights as well as many current and past exhibits. NARA is a public trust that safeguards the records upon which our democracy depends. The records document our common heritage as Americans and the individual and collective experiences of our people. “Teaching With Documents: Lesson Plans” section contains reproducible copies of primary documents from the holdings of the National Archives of the United States, teaching activities correlated to the National History Standards and National Standards for Civics and Government, and cross-curricular connections.

New Deal Network
This site, organized by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI), is a database of over 20,000 text documents and photographs related to the depression and the New Deal era. It also includes curriculum ideas for middle and high school teachers and students.

Our Documents
This site contains 100 milestone documents in American history. It was developed as a collaboration among Nation History Day, The National Archives and Record Administration, and the USA Freedom Corps.

Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection

Salem in History
As a joint effort of the Salem Public Schools, Salem State College, the Peabody Essex Museum and the National Park Service, SALEM in History aims to increase the depth, breadth and quality of teachers' knowledge and understanding of United States history, and provide teachers with the training, materials and support necessary to apply this new knowledge and understanding in their classrooms. The site has links to primary sources.

Smithsonian American Art Museum
This site includes links to thousands of works of American art including paintings and photographs. The site is organized by collections which can be searched by artist or subject matter.

Smithsonian Institution
After entering this site, click on “Educators – Prepare, Plan, Teach”. This portion of the site has teaching materials linked to hundreds of online resources. Click on “websites and lesson plans” and select “American History” on the pull down menu.

Teaching With Historic Places
This site, maintained by the National Park Service, includes a great deal of information about historic sites throughout the United States. You can search by historical topic and/or geographic location. There are also many lesson plans organized by historical topics, many including the use of primary sources.

Teaching History With Technology
The Center for Teaching History with Technology, developed by classroom teachers, aims to help history and social studies teachers incorporate technology effectively into their courses. It includes lesson plans and resources. Membership is free and subscribers receive monthly updates.

Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
The facility houses three major departments which further enrich the University of Connecticut's focus in human rights. They include the University Libraries Archives & Special Collections, the Center for Judaic Studies & Contemporary Jewish Life and the Human Rights Institute. Laura Katz Smith has posted a list of recommended sites for online primary sources documents specifically for teachers.

University of Oklahoma College of Law
This site includes a chronology of historical documents from pre-colonization to the present. It includes many presidential addresses.