Best U.S. History Web Sites

Library of Congress

An outstanding and valuable site for American history and general studies. Includes primary and secondary files, exhibits, map collections, prints and photographs, sound recordings and motion pictures. The Library of Congress American Memory Historical Collections, a must-see, comprises the majority 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 attributes for educators and students.
The Library of Congress American Memory in particular is a superb resource for American history and general studies. Included are multimedia collections of photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures, and text that is unread. Utilize the Teachers section to research main 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 to using Library of Congress primary source records in the classroom and include excellent lesson plans, document analysis tools, offline and online tasks, timelines, presentations and professional development tools.
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 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 web-based magazine which features articles by various historians. Resources are designed to benefit specialist historians, higher school teachers, and students of the history.
Teaching American History
This is a fantastic collection of thoughtful and thorough lesson plans and other resources on teaching American history. Each project Was Made by educators in Virginia in a Center for History and New Media workshop. All projects include many different lesson plans and resources, and some even provide educational videos on supply evaluation. The lesson plans cover a range of topics in American history and use engaging and interesting resources, activities, discussion questions, and assessments. Take your time browsing—there are many to choose from.
National Archives and Records Administration
The NARA offers national archives, exhibits, classroom tools, census records, Hot Topics, and much more. Besides its paper holdings (which will circle the Earth 57 days ) it’s over 3.5 billion digital records. Users can research individuals, places, events and other popular topics of interest, in addition to ancestry and military records. Additionally, there are features displays drawing from many of the NARA’s favorite 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 contains incorporates U.S. primary files and its exceptional teaching tasks 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 assesses thousands of documents, photos, and parts of history which were incorporated in a digital format. Upon entering the homepage, the consumer is given eight arbitrary archives to select from. Clicking on one provides a description and a brief history of that record, in addition to exhibits a huge assortment of archives that are similar. The user has the ability to shuffle, rearrange, gather, and research archives, as well as search for specific points in history utilizing a keyword search. Although too little initial organization or index might appear overwhelming, Digital Vaults is a superbly imaginative source for exploring history in a digitally compiled way.
Teach Docs With DocsTeach, teachers can create interactive history activities that incorporate over 3,000 primary-source materials in a variety of media in the National Archives. Tools on the site are made to teach critical thinking skills and integrate interactive components such as puzzles, maps, and graphs.
Our Records Offers 100 milestone documents, compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration, and drawn primarily from its nationwide holdings, which chronicle United States history from 1776 to 1965. Features a teacher’s toolbox and competitions for students and teachers.
PBS Online
A fantastic source for advice on a plethora of historical events and personalities. PBS’s various and varied web exhibits supplement their television series and normally include a list of each episode, interviews (often with sound bites), a timeline, primary sources, a glossary, photos, maps, and links to pertinent websites. PBS productions include American Experience, Frontline and People’s Century. Go to the PBS Teacher Source for lessons and activities — arranged by topic.
PBS Teacher Source Go to the PBS Teacher Source for classes and activities — organized by subject and grade level — and sign up for their newsletter. Categories include American History, World History, History on Television, and Biographies. Many lessons include primary sources. Some courses require watching PBS video, but many do not.
Smithsonian Education
The Smithsonian Education site is divided only into three main classes: Educators, Families, and Students. The Educators section is key word searchable and includes lesson programs — lots of pertaining to background. The Students section comes with an interactive»Keys of the Smithsonian» that teaches about the special collections at the Smithsonian.
The Cost of Freedom: Americans at War
This Smithsonian website skillfully integrates Flash text and video to examine armed conflicts between the U.S. from the Revolutionary War to the war in Iraq. Each conflict includes 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) segment includes an introductory movie and brief essay on the conflict as well as historic artifacts and images.
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 assist with daily classroom planning, and search engines. You are able to search lesson plans from subcategory and grade level; middle school lessons are the most numerous.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
There’s much quality material for art students, teachers, and enthusiasts at 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 incorporates representative artwork from the Museum’s collection, a chart of time intervals, a map of the area, an overview, and a list of important events. The timelines — accompanied by world, regional, and sub-regional maps — supply a linear outline of art history, and permit people to compare and contrast art from across the world at any time in history. There is plenty more here besides 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 get biographical stuff on a choice of artists in addition to general details regarding their job, and»Topics and Cultures» presents past and present cultures with special attributes on the Met’s collections and displays.
C-SPAN from the Classroom
Access C-SPAN’s complete program archives containing all videos. C-SPAN in the Classroom is a free membership service that offers information and resources to aid educators in their use of source, public affairs video out of C-SPAN television. You do not have to be a member to use C-SPAN online resources in your classroom, but also membership includes entry to teaching ideas, activities and classroom tools.
Digital History
This impressive site 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 captivity; and succinct essays on the background of ethnicity and immigration, movie, personal life, and science and engineering. Visual histories of Lincoln’s America and America’s Reconstruction include text from Eric Foner and Olivia Mahoney. The Doing Background feature lets users rebuild the past through the voices of kids, gravestones, advertisements, 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, songs, 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 in St. Louis. Materials are free but you have to register. Features an impressive array of sound, video, and text resources out of Frontline and American Experience reveals, Eyes on the Prize, and other resources. Also offers an interactive Civil Rights movement timeline and four lesson plans: Campaigns for Financial Freedom/Re-Examining Brown/Taking a Stand/Understanding White Supremacy.
Science and Technology of World War II
One of the most remarkable technology advancements of the modern era happened during World War II and the National World War II Memorial has 8000 objects directly linked to science and engineering. This impressive exhibit includes an animated timeline, activities (such as sending encrypted messages), expert audio responses to science and engineering questions, lesson plans, a quiz, essays, and much more. An impressive demonstration.
Voting America: United States Politics, 1840-2008
Voting America examines long-term patterns in presidential elections politics in the USA in the 1840s to now as well as some patterns lately congressional election politics. The project delivers a wide spectrum of animated and interactive visualizations of the way Americans voted in elections within the last 168 years. The visualizations may be used to research individual elections beyond the country level down to individual counties, which allows for more complex analysis. The interactive maps highlight exactly how significant third parties have played in Western political history. You could even locate expert analysis and comment 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 regular men and women previously. 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 initial documents: diaries, maps, letters, court records, town records, and more and a searchable copy of this twenty-seven year diary of Martha Ballard. DoHistory engages users interactively with historical artifacts and documents from the past and introduces people to the pivotal 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 Dead 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 makes a social history of the forthcoming, fighting, 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 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 established a rich and impressive site that concentrates on the 1704 raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, with the objective of commemorating and reinterpreting the occasion 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, stories of people’s lives, historical artifacts and papers, essays, voices and tunes, historic maps, and a deadline — to light broad and rival perspectives on this spectacular event.
Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition
The Missouri Historical Society has developed a comprehensive award-winning web site and web-based curriculum designed 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 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 standpoint and a distinct Native American perspective. The internet display has two segments. One is a thematic approach that highlights the content from the main galleries of the exhibit. The other is a map-based travel that follows the expedition and introduces main sources on the way, such as interviews with present-day Native Americans.
The Sport of Life and Death
The Sport of Life and Death was voted Best Site for 2002 by Museums and the Web and has won a slew of other internet awards. The site is based on a traveling exhibition now showing at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey and bills itself as»an online journey to the ancient spectacle of athletes and gods.» The Sport of Life and Death features amazing special effects owing to Macromedia Flash technologies and its general design and organization are excellent. You will find useful interactive maps, timelines, and samples of artwork in the Explore the Mesoamerican World section. The focus of the site, 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 even compete in a contest!
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 big components: the background of Chicago in the 19th century, and how the Chicago Fire has been remembered over time. Included are essays, galleries, and sources.
Tech in 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 through the Great Depression and then create their own fictionalized account of a day in the life of a Hobo. This undertaking 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
See»Telling Their Stories» and read, see, and listen to perhaps the very best student-created oral history project at the nation. High School students in 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 countless movie files connected with each transcript, and then posted the full-text, full-video interviews with the 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 technology integration. Teachers interested in conducting an oral history project can contact Urban School technology manager Howard Levin and ought to consider attending his summer teacher workshop.
Student News Action Network
This student-produced current events journal features contributions from around the globe and is led by five student-bureaus: The American School of Doha, Bishops Diocesan College, International School Bangkok, International School of Luxembourg, and Washington International School. The students have cleverly adopted the free Ning system and far-flung pupils work collaboratively to create an interactive, multimedia-rich, and student-driven online newspaper.
«Great Debate of 2008″
Tom Daccord produced a wiki and a personal online social media for its»Great Debate of 2008» job, a student exploration and discussion of issues and candidates enclosing the 2008 presidential elections. The job connected students across the country at a wiki and a private online social network to share ideas and information associated with the 2008 presidential elections. Pupils post advice on campaign issues to the wiki and partake in online discussions and survey with other students in the personal online social networking.
The Flat Classroom Project
The award-winning Flat Classroom project brings together large school and middle school students from all over the world to explore the ideas presented in Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat. These collaborative endeavors harness the most effective Web 2.0 tools available including wikis, online social networks, digital storytelling, podcasts, social bookmarking, and much more.

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