Best U.S. History Web Sites

Library of Congress

An outstanding and valuable site for American history and general research. Includes primary and secondary documents, displays, map collections, prints and photos, audio recordings and motion pictures. 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, ideas, and features for educators and students.
The Library of Congress American Memory particularly is a superb resource for American history and general studies. Contained are multimedia collections of photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures, and digitized text. Use the Teachers section to research primary set collections and themed resources. Teachers can get updates on new programs, professional development opportunities, and Library programs, events and providers.
The Library of Congress: Teachers
The new Library of Congress Teachers page provides tools and resources to using Library of Congress primary source records in the classroom and contain excellent lesson plans, record analysis tools, offline and online activities, timelines, presentations and professional development tools.
Center for History and New Media: History Matters
A production of this 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 an Excellent online resource for history teachers and pupils. One of the many digital tools are lesson plans, syllabi, links, and displays. The middle 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 to their excellent History Topics web site for U.S. History, and much more. The CHNM History News Network is a weekly online magazine which has articles by several historians. Resources are intended to benefit professional historians, high school teachers, and students of the history.
Teaching American History
This is a wonderful collection of thoughtful and thorough lesson plans and other resources on teaching history. Each project Was Made by teachers in Virginia in 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 analysis. The lesson plans cover a range of topics in American history and utilize engaging and interesting resources, activities, discussion questions, and assessments. Take your time browsing–you will find many to select from.
National Archives and Records Administration
The NARA offers national archives, displays, classroom resources, census records, Hot Topics, and more. Besides its paper holdings (which would circle the Earth 57 days ) it’s more than 3.5 billion digital records. Users can research people, places, events as well as other popular topics of interest, as well as ancestry and military documents. Additionally, there are features exhibits drawing from many of the NARA’s popular sources. Among the most asked holdings are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, WWII photographs, and the Bill of Rights.
The National Archives: Teachers’ Resources
The National Archives Lesson Plans section comprises incorporates U.S. main files and its exceptional teaching tasks 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, photos, and pieces of history which were incorporated in a digital format. Upon going into the homepage, the consumer is given eight arbitrary archives to choose from. Clicking on one will give a description and a brief history of that record, as well as displays a huge assortment of similar archives. The user has the ability to shuffle, rearrange, gather, and research archives, in addition to search for specific points in history utilizing a key word search. Even though a lack of initial organization or index might seem overpowering, Digital Vaults is a superbly imaginative source for exploring 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 website are designed to teach critical thinking skills and integrate interactive elements such as maps, puzzles, and graphs.
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 contests for students and teachers.
PBS Online
A great source for information on a myriad of historic events and personalities. PBS’s assorted and diverse web exhibits supplement their television show and generally include a list of every incident, interviews (often with sound bites), a timeline, primary sources, a glossary, photographs, maps, and links to pertinent sites. PBS productions include American Experience, Frontline and People’s Century. Proceed to the PBS Teacher Source for lessons and activities — arranged by subject.
PBS Teacher Source Go to the PBS Teacher Source for classes and activities — arranged by subject and grade level — and then subscribe to 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 website is divided simply into three chief categories: Educators, Families, and Students. The Educators section is keyword searchable and includes lesson programs — many pertaining to history. The Students section comes with an interactive”Secrets of the Smithsonian” that teaches about the special collections in the Smithsonian.
The Cost of Freedom: Americans at War
This Smithsonian website logically incorporates Flash text and video to analyze armed conflicts between 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’s also a Civil War puzzle, an exhibition self-guide, and a teacher’s guide. The New American Roles (1899-present) section includes an introductory film and brief essay on the battle as well as historic images and artifacts.
Edsitement — The Best of the Humanities on the Internet EDSITEment is a partnership among the National Endowment for the Humanities, Verizon Foundation, and the National Trust for the Humanities. All sites 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 are able to search lesson plans from subcategory and grade level; center school courses are the most numerous.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
There’s a lot of quality material for art students, educators, and enthusiasts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art web site. Begin 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 artwork from the Museum’s collection, a graph of time intervals, a map of the area, an overview, and a list of important events. The timelines — accompanied by regional, world, and sub-regional maps — provide a linear outline of art history, and permit people to compare and contrast art from across the globe at any time ever. There’s plenty more here besides the Timeline:”Just for Fun” has interactive activities for children,”A Closer Look” examines the”hows and whys” behind Met objects (like George Washington Crossing the Delaware),”Artist” enables visitors to get biographical materials on a choice of artists in addition to general details regarding their job, and”Themes and Cultures” presents past and current cultures with special features on the Met’s collections and displays.
C-SPAN from the Classroom
Access C-SPAN’s complete program archives containing all videos. C-SPAN from the Classroom is a free membership service which offers advice and resources to assist educators in their use of source, public events movie out of C-SPAN television. You do not have to be a member to utilize C-SPAN online tools in your classroom, but membership includes entry to teaching ideas, tasks and classroom applications.
Digital History
This impressive website 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 slavery; and succinct essays about the history of ethnicity and immigration, film, private life, and science and technology. 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, along with an abysmal archive including speeches, book discussions and e-lectures by historians, and historic maps, songs, newspaper articles, and images. 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 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 selection of sound, video, and text resources out of Frontline and American Experience shows, Eyes on the Prize, and other resources. Also offers an interactive Civil Rights movement deadline and four lesson plans: Campaigns for Economic Freedom/Re-Examining Brown/Taking a Stand/Understanding White Supremacy.
Science and Technology of World War II
Some of the most remarkable technology improvements of the modern era occurred during World War II and the National World War II Memorial has 8000 objects directly linked to science and technology. This impressive exhibit contains an animated timeline, activities (such as sending encrypted messages), professional sound 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 examines long-term patterns in presidential election politics in the United States from the 1840s to now as well as some patterns lately congressional election politics. The job offers a vast spectrum of interactive and animated visualizations of how Americans voted in elections over the past 168 decades. The visualizations can be used to explore individual elections beyond the state level down to individual counties, allowing for more sophisticated analysis. The interactive maps emphasize exactly how significant third parties have played in American political history. You can even find expert analysis and commentary videos that share a few of the most intriguing and significant trends in American ideology.
Do Background: Martha Ballard
DoHistory invites you to explore the process of piecing together the lives of ordinary men and women in the past. It is 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 thousands of downloadable pages from original records: diaries, maps, letters, court records, town records, and much more as well as a searchable copy of the twenty-seven year diary of Martha Ballard. DoHistory engages users interactively with historic artifacts and documents 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 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 poses a hypermedia archive of thousands of resources that creates a social history of their coming, fighting, and aftermath of the Civil War. Those sources include newspapers, letters, diaries, photos, maps, church records, population census, agricultural census, and military records. Students may explore the conflict and write their own foundations or reconstruct the life stories of girls, African Americans, farmers, politicians, soldiers, and families. The project is intended 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 established 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 of the cultural groups who were current — Mohawk, Abenaki, Huron, French, and English. The site brings together many sources — historical scenes, stories of people’s lives, historic artifacts and papers, essays, voices and tunes, historical maps, along with a timeline — to light broad and competing perspectives with this dramatic event.
Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition
The Missouri Historical Society has developed an extensive award-winning website and web-based curriculum designed to complement their Lewis and Clark, The National Bicentinnal Exhibiton. Written for grades 4-12, the components concentrate 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 like Diplomacy, Mapping, Animals, Language, and Trade and Property. It presents both the Euro-American standpoint and a distinct Native American perspective. The online exhibit has two sections. One is a thematic approach that highlights the content from the main galleries of this exhibit. Another is a map-based journey which follows the expedition and presents primary 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 Site for 2002 by Museums and the Web and has won a ton of other internet awards. The website is based on a traveling exhibition currently showing at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey and bills itself as”an internet travel to the ancient spectacle of gods and athletes.” The Sport of Life and Death features amazing special effects courtesy of Macromedia Flash technologies and its general design and organization are superb. There are useful interactive maps, timelines, and samples of art in the Explore the Mesoamerican World section. The attention of the site, however, is that the Mesoamerican ballgame, the oldest organized sport ever. The sport is clarified through a beautiful and engaging combination of text, images, expert commentary, and movie. Visitors can even compete in a competition!
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 background of Chicago from the 19th century, and also the way the Chicago Fire has been remembered over time. Included are essays, galleries, and even resources.
Technology in the U.S. History in the Classroom
Here are some creative, engaging and technology-infused lessons & web sites on U.S. History:
“Day in Life of Hobo” podcast
This interdisciplinary creative writing/historical simulation action incorporates blogging and podcasting and calls on students to find out more about the plight of displaced teenagers during the Great Depression and then create their own fictionalized account of a day in the life of a Hobo. This project will 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, watch, and listen to perhaps the very best student-created oral history project in the country. High School students in the Urban School of San Francisco have produced three impressive oral history interviews featured at this site: Holocaust Survivors and Refugees, World War II Camp Liberators, and Japanese-American Internees. Urban school students conducted, filmed, and transcribed interviews, created hundreds of movie files associated with every transcript, and then posted the full-text, full-video interviews on this public site. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has recognized Urban School’s Telling Their Stories project with a Top 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 includes contributions from around the world and is led 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 students have 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 private online social media for its”Great Debate of 2008” job, a student exploration and discussion of issues and candidates surrounding the 2008 presidential elections. The project connected pupils around the nation in a wiki and a private online social media to share information and ideas related to the 2008 presidential election. Pupils post advice on campaign issues to the wiki and partake in online discussions and survey together with other pupils in the personal online social networking.
The Flat Classroom Project
The award-winning Flat Classroom project brings together high school and middle school students from all over the globe to explore the ideas presented in Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat. These collaborative endeavors 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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