Best U.S. History Web Sites

Library of Congress

An outstanding and invaluable site for American history and general research. Includes primary and secondary documents, displays, map collections, prints and photographs, audio recordings and motion pictures. The Library of Congress American Memory Historical Collections, a must-see, contains the bulk 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 features for educators and students.
The Library of Congress American Memory in particular is an outstanding resource for American history and general research. Included are multimedia collections of photos, recorded sound, moving pictures, and digitized text. Utilize the Teachers section to explore 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 tools and resources for using Library of Congress primary source documents in the classroom and include exceptional lesson plans, record analysis tools, online and offline 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 an Excellent 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” internet sites, links to syllabi and lesson plans, essays on history and new media, a link for their excellent History Topics web site for U.S. History, and more. The CHNM History News Network is a weekly web-based magazine which features articles by several historians. Resources are designed to benefit professional historians, high school teachers, and students of the history.
Teaching American History
This is a wonderful assortment of thoughtful and comprehensive lesson plans and other tools on teaching American history. Each job was created by educators in Virginia at a Center for History and New Media workshop. All projects include many different lesson plans and resources, and a few even offer instructional videos on source evaluation. The lesson plans cover a variety of topics in American history and use engaging and interesting sources, activities, discussion questions, and assessments. Take your time browsing–there are many to select from.
National Archives and Records Administration
The NARA delivers national archives, displays, classroom tools, census documents, Hot Topics, and much more. In addition to its newspaper holdings (which would show the Earth 57 times) it has over 3.5 billion electronic records. Users can research individuals, places, events as well as other popular topics of interest, in addition to ancestry and military records. There are also features exhibits drawing from many of those NARA’s favorite sources. One of the most requested holdings are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, WWII photos, along with the Bill of Rights.
The National Archives: Teachers’ Resources
The National Archives Lesson Plans section contains 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 age, from 1754 to the present.
Digital Vaults
The National Archives Experience: Digital Vaults is an interactive exploration of background that assesses thousands of files, photos, and pieces of history which were incorporated in an electronic format. Upon entering the homepage, the user is given eight arbitrary archives to select from. Clicking on one will give a description along with a brief history of that archive, in addition to exhibits a large assortment of archives that are similar. The consumer has the ability to shuffle, rearrange, gather, 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 overpowering, Digital Vaults is a superbly imaginative resource for exploring history in a digitally compiled manner.
Teach Docs With DocsTeach, teachers can create interactive background activities that incorporate over 3,000 primary-source substances in many different media from the National Archives. Tools on the site are made to teach critical thinking skills and integrate interactive components 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. Attributes a teacher’s toolbox and competitions for teachers and students.
PBS Online
A great resource for information on a plethora of historical events and personalities. PBS’s assorted and diverse web exhibits supplement their tv show and generally include a list of each episode, interviews (often with sound bites), a timeline, primary sources, a glossary, photographs, maps, and links to pertinent websites. PBS productions include American Experience, Frontline and People’s Century. Proceed to the PBS Teacher Source for activities and lessons — arranged by subject.
PBS Teacher Source Proceed to the PBS Teacher Source for lessons and activities — arranged by subject and grade level — and then sign up for their newsletter. Groups include American History, World History, History on Television, and Biographies. Many lessons incorporate primary sources. Some courses require watching PBS video, but many do not.
Smithsonian Education
The Smithsonian Education site is divided only into three main categories: Educators, Families, and Students. The Educators section is keyword searchable and features lesson plans — lots of pertaining to background. The Students section features an interactive”Secrets of the Smithsonian” that teaches about the special collections in the Smithsonian.
The Price of Freedom: Americans at War
This Smithsonian website logically incorporates Flash video and text to examine armed conflicts involving the U.S. in the Revolutionary War to the war in Iraq. Each battle contains a brief video clip, statistical advice, 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) segment includes an introductory film and short essay on the battle in addition to 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 website features reviewed links to top websites, 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; center school lessons are the most numerous.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
There is much excellent material for art students, teachers, and fans 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 across the world. Each timeline page includes representative artwork from the Museum’s collection, a chart of time periods, a map of the area, a summary, and a listing of key events. The timelines — accompanied by world, regional, and sub-regional maps — supply a linear outline of art history, and allow people to compare and contrast art from across the world at any moment in history. There is plenty more here apart from the Timeline:”Just for Fun” has interactive activities for kids,”A Closer Look” assesses the”hows and whys” behind Met objects (like George Washington Crossing the Delaware),”Artist” enables visitors to access biographical materials on a selection of artists as well as general information about their job, and”Themes and Cultures” presents past and current cultures with special attributes 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 aid educators in their use of primary source, public affairs video from C-SPAN television. You don’t have to become a member to use C-SPAN online tools in your classroom, but also membership includes entry to teaching ideas, activities and classroom applications.
Digital History
This impressive website 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 background, and slavery; and succinct essays on the history of ethnicity and immigration, film, personal life, and science and engineering. Visual histories of Lincoln’s America and America’s Reconstruction include 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 discussions and e-lectures by historians, and historical maps, music, newspaper articles, and graphics. The site’s Ask the HyperHistorian feature allows users to 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 have to register. Features an impressive array of sound, video, and text sources out of Frontline and American Experience shows, Eyes on the Prize, along with other sources. Also offers an interactive Civil Rights movement deadline 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 remarkable technology advancements of the modern era occurred during World War II and 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 encrypted messages), expert audio answers to science and technology questions, lesson plans, a quiz, essays, and more. An impressive presentation.
Voting America: United States Politics, 1840-2008
Voting America assesses long-term patterns in presidential elections politics in the United States from the 1840s to today as well as several patterns lately congressional election politics. The job offers a wide spectrum of interactive and animated visualizations of the way Americans voted in elections within the last 168 years. The visualizations can be used to explore individual elections beyond the country level down to different counties, which allows for more complex analysis. The interactive maps highlight just how significant third parties have played in American political history. You can even find expert analysis and comment videos which discuss some of the most interesting and significant trends in American political history.
Do Background: Martha Ballard
DoHistory invites you to explore the process of piecing together the lives of regular people in the past. It’s an experimental, interactive case study based on the study 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 initial records: 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 historic documents and artifacts from the past and introduces people to the critical questions and issues raised when”doing” history. DoHistory was designed and preserved 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 targets Augusta County, Virginia and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and it presents a hypermedia archive of thousands of sources that makes a social history of their coming, combating, and aftermath of the Civil War. These 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 foundations or rebuild the life stories of girls, African Americans, farmers, politicians, soldiers, and families. The project is meant 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 site that focuses on the 1704 raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, with the objective of commemorating and reinterpreting the event 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, tales of people’s lives, historical artifacts and papers, essays, voices and songs, historical maps, along with a timeline — to illuminate broad and competing perspectives on this spectacular 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 match their own Lewis and Clark, The National Bicentinnal Exhibiton. Written for grades 4-12, the components concentrate on nine important themes of the display and feature tens of thousands of primary sources from the exhibit. The program 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 standpoint and a particular Native American standpoint. The internet display has two sections. One is a thematic approach that highlights the content from the main galleries of this display. Another is a map-based travel which follows the expedition and introduces main sources along 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 Overall 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 travel into the ancient spectacle of gods and athletes.” The Sport of Life and Death features amazing special effects owing to Macromedia Flash technology and its general layout and organization are excellent. You will find helpful interactive maps, timelines, and samples of art in the Explore the Mesoamerican World section. The attention of the website, however, is the Mesoamerican ballgame, the oldest organized sport in history. The game is explained through a gorgeous and engaging combination of images, text, 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 major components: the history of Chicago from the 19th century, and the way the Chicago Fire has been recalled over time. Included are essays, galleries, and even sources.
Technology at the U.S. History in the Classroom
Here are some creative, 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 during the Great Depression and then make their own fictionalized account of a day in the life of a Hobo. This project is going to probably 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
See”Telling Their Stories” and read, see, and listen to possibly the very best student-created oral history project in the country. High School students at the Urban School of San Francisco have generated 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, generated hundreds of movie files associated with every transcript, then posted the full-text, full-video interviews on this public site. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has acknowledged Urban School’s Telling Their Stories project using 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 should think about attending his summer teacher workshop.
Student News Action Network
This student-produced current events diary includes contributions from around the globe 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 pupils work collaboratively to create an interactive, multimedia-rich, and student-driven online paper.
“Great Debate of 2008″
Tom Daccord created a wiki and a personal online social network for the”Great Debate of 2008” job, a student exploration and discussion of issues and candidates enclosing the 2008 presidential elections. The project connected pupils around the nation at a wiki and a private online social network to share ideas and information associated with the 2008 presidential elections. Students post information on campaign issues to the wiki and partake in online discussions and survey with different students in the personal online social network.
The Flat Classroom Project
The award-winning Flat Classroom job brings together high school and middle school students from around the world to explore the notions presented in Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat. These collaborative projects harness the most effective Web 2.0 tools available including wikis, online social networks, digital storytelling, podcasts, social bookmarking, and more.

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