Ever wonder what women were doing during the 1800s or what is known as the antebellum period of United States history? Men are well represented in our history books as they were the powerful, educated leaders of our country. Women, on the other hand, rarely had opportunities to tell their stories. Powerful stories of brave women who helped shape the history of the United States are revealed to students through journals, letters, narratives and other primary sources. Synthesizing information from the various sources, students write their impressions of women in the Northeast, Southeast, or the West during the Nineteenth Century.
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Examine the tension experienced by African-Americans as they struggled to establish a vibrant and meaningful identity based on the promises of liberty and equality in the midst of a society that was ambivalent towards them and sought to impose an inferior definition upon them. The primary sources used are drawn from a time of great change that begins after Reconstruction's brief promise of full citizenship and ends with the First World War's Great Migration, when many African-Americans sought greater freedoms and opportunities by leaving the South for booming industrial cities elsewhere in the nation. The central question posed by these primary sources is how African-Americans were able to form a meaningful identity for themselves, reject the inferior images fastened upon them, and still maintain the strength to keep "from being torn asunder." Using the primary sources presented here, look for answers that bring your ideas together in ways that reflect the richness of the African-American experience.
The collection African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P. Murray Collection, 1818-1907, contains pamphlets and other materials, most of which were written by African American authors about pressing issues of the day. In this lesson, students use the collection's Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 to identify problems and issues facing African Americans immediately after Reconstruction. Working in small groups on assigned issues, students search the collection for documents that describe the problem and consider opposing points of view, and suggest a remedy for the problem. Students then present the results of their research in a simulated African American Congress, modeled on a congress documented in the collection's special presentation, Progress of a People.
This lesson encourages students to identify problems facing African Americans immediately after Reconstruction. Students then work in small groups to identify documents describing a particular problem, consider opposing points of view, and suggest a solution and present their research findings.
This lesson invites students to search and sift through rare print documents, early motion pictures, photographs, and recorded sounds from The Library of Congress. Students experience the depth and breadth of the digital resources of the Library, tell the story of a decade, and help define the American Dream.
In 1782 Jean de Crevecoeur published Letters from an American Farmer in which he defined an American as a "descendent of Europeans" who, if he were "honest, sober and industrious," prospered in a welcoming land of opportunity which gave him choice of occupation and residence. Students will look at life histories from the interviews of everyday Americans conducted by Works Progress Administration officials between 1936-1940 to see if his definition still holds true in this country 150 years later. Students will conclude by working toward a modern definition.
This site helps teachers and students navigate the vast online collections of primary source materials at the Library of Congress. The links, arranged by chronological period, lead to sets of selected primary sources on a variety of topics in U.S. history.
This is a lesson in which students take a trip around the world in 1896 using an online collection of 900 images. The collection includes photos of railroads, elephants, camels, horses, sleds and sleighs, sedan chairs, rickshaws, and other types of transportation, as well as city views, street and harbor scenes, landscapes, and people in North Africa, Asia, Australia, and Oceania.
This is an annotated collection of Library of Congress resources about America's pastime. It includes early baseball pictures, baseball songs and stories, baseball cards, the first all-professional baseball team in America (the Cincinnati Red Stockings, 1869), Cy Young, Ty Cobb, home run kings, and letters and speeches by Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play major league baseball.
This site offers twelve puzzle sets. Each set challenges you with four or five jigsaw puzzles made from images found in the American Memory collections. As each puzzle in the set is completed, a new puzzle will appear...until you have completed all of the puzzles in that set. You will then have a chance to use what you have learned to discover the Big Picture...the theme the images in the set have in common
This lesson relates to the westward movement in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Students analyze the role that gunfighters played in the settlement of the West and distinguish between their factual and fictional accounts using American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936 - 1940.Billy the Kid alias, William H. Bonney, alias Henry McCarty, alias Kid Antrim, etc. is an example of the typical gunfighter. He was born in the 1850s and died in 1881 when he was shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett. Billy serves as the focus of the lesson.
This site offers thumbnail histories of nearly 30 well-known brand names associated with soft drinks, potatoes, cereal, fruit, airplanes, buses, pianos, sewing machines, jeans, shoes, and other products.
The New Deal programs and agencies, created under the leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had a powerful impact on the relationship of government to the people of the United States. Yet a study of New Deal programs often leaves the student with a disconnected list of 'alphabet soup' programs and no real grasp of the impact of the New Deal.This lesson takes a student through a process of examining primary sources, both photographs and life histories, to develop a sense of the profound impact the Great Depression had on real people's lives. Then after studying New Deal Programs, students apply what they've learned to improve the situations of those people, whose life history interviews they have read. They synthesize the information gathered into an essay which has both an expository and a creative component. For 10th grade students.
This unit provides a flexible investigative structure for the study of selected themes in U.S. history and culture using the American Memory collections and related resources. Core goals are the development of relationships between selected themes and resources, refinement of student skills in interpretation, analysis, and evaluation of primary sources, and the creation of multimedia projects drawing upon different modes of expression.
This is a teaching unit that leads middle and high school students through the process of critically examining photographs (by Lewis Hine) as historical evidence.
This activity explores how and why war has been photographed and affords students an opportunity to see bias within war reporting. In addition to analyzing war photographs, students learn about Mathematics and Statisticsew Brady's process for photographing the Civil War and how photographic equipment has improved over time.
The Civil War through a Child's Eye lesson focuses on the use of historical fiction and primary sources to expand students' perceptions of the Civil War era. Literature and photographic images reflect, communicate, and influence human perspectives of historical events. Specifically, the unit helps students to view the Civil War era through a child's eye, rather than from an adult perspective.Following an introduction to the Civil War using photographic, daguerreotype, and non-fiction sources, students read Paul Fleischman's Bull Run in Readers Theater format. Next, students examine and interpret primary source images of Civil War era children. Then, students reveal their understanding of a child's perspective in a literary portrait. In sum, this lesson integrates reading, writing, and US history standards.
This is a two-part teaching unit about the controversy among conservationists over a proposal to turn part of Yosemite National Park into a dam to furnish water to San Francisco. The first part explores the history of the conservation movement in general, while the second links to primary records, such as Congressional debates, of Hetch Hetchy itself.
This lesson plan casts students in the role of politically active citizens in 1787, when the Federal Convention in Philadelphia presented the nation with a new model of government. Students, using primary documents from American Memory, produce a broadside in which they argue for or against replacing the Articles of Confederation with the new model of the Constitution.
This site includes images of newspaper articles (1787), notes Washington and Jefferson wrote on drafts of the Constitution (1787-88), Jefferson's chart of state votes (1788), Washington's diaries (1786-89), Hamilton's speech notes for proposing a plan of government, a Philadelphia map (1752), the broadside Bill of Rights (1791), and other artifacts.
The collection of an archive of primary source materials will be an exciting component of a year-long American Studies class focusing on historiography and the use of primary sources. Students collect primary source materials from their families or local communities. In analyzing these primary sources, students examine the interplay between national, state, local, and personal history. Over a period of several weeks, students may produce a digital collection modeled on the Library of Congress' American Memory.Teachers and students from other states and localities may easily follow this model to create local history Memory Projects of their own. Teachers may choose to limit the lesson to a single unit in which students build the archive of primary source materials, or may extend the lesson to a year-long project by including units in which students create Web pages and lesson plans based on their archives.
This site looks at American political parties of the past, presidential inaugurations, images of presidents and first ladies, our first uniform election day, political cartoons by Herbert Block (Herblock) and Pat Oliphant, the 1877 electoral commission created by Congress to resolve the disputed presidential election of 1876, the 19th and 24th amendments (ending the poll tax and giving women the right to vote), and the Nixon-Kennedy debates.
This site looks at Europe's view of North America before and after Columbus, Martin Waldseemuller's 1507 map of the world, Diego Gutierrez's 1562 map of America, Spanish and Portuguese encounters in America, the Dutch in America, exploration and settlement of America from British and American points of view, Lewis and Clark, Henry Hudson, Jacques Cartier, and early images of the U.S.
features journal entries from 20 points in the journey of Lewis and Clark: mission preparations, winter in St. Louis, first council with Indians, death of Sergeant Floyd, first killing of a buffalo, Sioux camps, near run-in with Teton Sioux, Rocky Mountains, Nez Perce, falls of the Columbia River, and others. The site also provides letters from Thomas Jefferson to Lewis and Clark; images of people, places, plants, and animals; and maps.
This is a teaching unit that leads students to the famous Federal Writers Project and gets them started writing found poems. Among the examples is a free verse poem written after reading an account of surviving the Blizzard of 1888.
This site presents the papers of the 19th-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher. The first release of the Douglass Papers contains 2,000 items (16,000 images) that span the years 1841 to 1964 and relate to Douglass's life as an escaped slave, abolitionist, editor, orator, and public servant.
This site provides photos, letters, articles, and resources for learning about the history of flight -- aircraft and balloons, Alexander Graham Bell's aerodynamic studies, the Wright brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Igor Sikorsky's helicopters, and Amelia Earhart.
This activity aims to enhance reading and understanding of The Grapes of Wrath through ethnographic research -- collections of sound recordings, drawings, photos, fieldnotes, and correspondence. Students show how cultural artifacts support one of themes in the novel.
This is a lesson in which students examine songs, interviews, and photos of migrant farm workers in California during the Great Depression and then create a scrapbook from the point of view of a migrant worker. Students use photos and recordings of migrant workers to create captions, letters, and songs. This lesson can be particularly useful when students are learning about the Great Depression or reading The Grapes of Wrath.
Students frequently echo sentiments such as, "The government is too big," or "The government should make welfare mothers pay for their own needs." It seems that many citizens, high schoolers included, have begun to believe in reduced government combined with increased personal responsibility. Such sentiments suggest a move away from belief in the welfare state, created largely by the New Deal in the 1930s and reinforced by the "Great Society" legislation of the 1960s. By using the American Memory's American Life Histories, 1936-1940 documents, personal interviews, and the Library of Congress's online legislative information (THOMAS), students will be able to gain a better understanding of why the government takes care of its people and how this type of welfare state started. Armed with this knowledge, they can then evaluate the current need of government programs, such as welfare, Medicare and Social Security, on the federal and state level.
This lesson plan will result in imaginary Works Progress Administration (WPA) interviews similar to those found in American Life Histories, 1936-1940 of American Memory of the Library of Congress that demonstrate students' interpretation of the question, "Was the New Deal North Carolina's 'Reconstruction'?" All background knowledge on the Reconstruction era should have been completed prior to the introduction of this project.A written WPA report on an imaginary North Carolina resident who lived during the Reconstruction and Depression eras is the product of this assignment. Students must complete research of the American Life Histories, 1936-1940, select an occupation for future research, and explore additional print and electronic sources. The "interview" must be historically accurate, support a thesis that answers the question, and include an appropriate sensory illustration.
offers photos, diaries, and timelines for learning about women pioneers, women during the Civil War, women's suffrage in the Progressive Era, eight women who served on the front during World War II, First Ladies, literature about women and discrimination, African-American women in the sciences, women in Muslim societies, Native American women writers, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Mead, research in women's history, and more.
This site looks at European and Chinese immigration to the U.S., early 20th century immigration documents, 350 years of Jewish life in America, America as a religious refuge (17th century), Irish words, the Tenement Museum in New York City, and the first Yiddish cookbook in America. The website includes images of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, stories of immigrants, and interactive timelines and maps showing immigration patterns.
Through dialogue, documentation, research, and interviews, students understand their role in society. This unit provides a background to students' family histories, and gives them an opportunity to listen to the voices of immigrants of the past.The students identify the issues involved with the migration of a community or family. By examining the traditional picture of immigration, students then consider their own families to have a better idea of their own history and their own voices.
This is a 4-week American history unit for high school. Students conduct oral history interviews, analyze photos, evaluate the relevance and accuracy of primary and secondary sources, discuss changes in immigration and migration over time, and more.
The primary goal of this activity is to give students the genuine experience of oral history in order to appreciate the process of historiography. We identified immigrants in our community who reflect the ethnic diversity of our student body, enabling students to compare and contrast the stories of these contemporary immigrants with those researched in the thirties reflected in American Life Histories, 1936-1940 and other American Memory collections. Students engage in visual and information literacy exercises to gain an understanding of how to identify and interpret primary historical sources.As designed, this project is almost a year-long experience. However, individual components can be adapted as standalone units, dropped altogether, or expanded to suit local needs.
In the late 1800s, the United States supported an educational experiment that the government hoped would change the traditions and customs of American Indians. Special boarding schools were created in locations all over the United States with the purpose of "civilizing" American Indian youth . Thousands of Native American children were sent far from their homes to live in these schools and learn the ways of white culture. Many struggled with loneliness and fear away from their tribal homes and familiar customs. Some lost their lives to the influenza, tuberculosis, and measles outbreaks that spread quickly through the schools. Others thrived despite the hardships, formed lifelong friendships, and preserved their Indian identities. Through photographs, letters, reports, interviews, and other primary documents, students explore the forced acculturation of American Indians through government-run boarding schools.
This lesson helps students examine the motivations of people who traveled west during the 1800s, as well as the conditions they encountered, the conflicts between settlers and native people, and policies of the federal government. Students interpret first person narratives and choose a role for in-depth study -- a gold miner, fur trader, pioneer family, Native American, or explorer.
This site provides primary source documents that students use to examine the working conditions of U.S. laborers at the turn of the century and to develop their own answers to a question: Was there a need for organized labor unions?
What evidence do we have that French Canadian immigrants settled in New England? Who were these people? Why did they come to the region in such large numbers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries? What was life like for them? What values did they bring with them that helped shape the region? Using American Life Histories, 1936-1940 and The Nineteenth Century in Print: Periodicals to answer these questions, students reach an understanding of the impact that French Canadians have had in New England.
This site offers maps, manuscripts, timelines, and photos related to the famed expedition. It includes resources for learning about Meriwether Lewis, Sacagawea, Congress's role in the Louisiana Purchase, and Thomas Jefferson's life-long commitment to western exploration.
Access historic documents related to literature and poetry including selected Walt Whitman notebooks, digitized rare books, and presentations on a variety of literary figures ranging from Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley to Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemingway.
This is a place where students can learn about the oral history interview process. The site includes examples of how to conduct interviews with people in the community and collect and analyze their life histories. The site links to life histories that were written for the U.S. Works Progress Administration (WPA) from 1936-1940.
This lesson invites students to read personal accounts of natural disasters in the U.S. during the late 1800s and early 1990s -- the great Chicago fire (1871), the Johnstown Flood (1889), the San Francisco earthquake and fire (1906), the Titanic (1912), the 1918 Flu Epidemics, the Dust Bowl (1930s-40s). Students research a disaster and create a presentation in which they assume the role of a witness to the event.
Learning history from real people involved in real events brings life to history. The Grandparent/Elder Project provides a means to learn about the twentieth century from real people and primary sources. A 1913 New York Times newspaper provides a view of the world on the brink of a World War. An interview with a grandparent or significant elder provides a human face for life in the twentieth century. Through researching primary and secondary sources, students become conversant with significant aspects of twentieth century history.
This is a game in which the viewer assumes the role of historical detective, searching for clues in photographs and eyewitness accounts about immigrant life in America.
This collection looks at inventors and inventions that changed our lives: the telegraph, photophone, animation, sewing machine, ice cream cone, nuclear fission, flight, and others. It includes Thomas Edison's journals and failed inventions, and Alexander Graham Bell's notebook entry describing the first successful experiment with the telephone (March 10, 1876). George Westinghouse, James Smithson, Benjamin Banneker, and Samuel Morse are among others profiled.
This lesson involves students in examining primary source documents related to the women's suffrage movement. Students identify methods used to change attitudes about suffrage for women and then create original documents encouraging citizens to vote in current elections.
This is a lesson in which students learn about the invention of the phonograph, the impact of electricity on Americans, and Thomas Edison's role in the electrification of America.
This project investigates and examines the impact transportation has had on peoples' lives. We chose to compare and contrast the turn of the centuries. This lesson introduces primary documents, specifically visuals. We intend for this activity to be used across grade levels and provide a basic framework that is adaptable. We intentionally left out a lot of specifics so that students would critically think about and come up with questions and ideas on their own for more in-depth study.
This activity was originally created for an online, video-conference produced by the National Digital Library Program in conjunction with the National First Ladies Library. The web pages were designed to provide the participating middle schools with resources and a structure to prepare for an online Bowl Event (an oral quiz/game in which teams compete by answering questions they have previously seen and answered). Turn-of-the-Century First Ladies, our selected topic, was chosen to take advantage of the expertise of the two presenting organizations. Any topic with many "factoids" would work as well. The activity can be used in a single classroom as a cooperative learning, team project. It can also be used as a cross classrooms event in a school with multiple classrooms per grade level.
This activity could be the engaging kick-off to a deeper study of women's history. It could be part of the study of our nation's turn-of-the-century Presidents. It could be the beginning or culmination of an in depth study of the role of First Ladies in our country's past, present and future. Or, the activity could be repurposed entirely, to develop a set of understandings around a different topic. Creative teachers will determine how much time is needed for their implementation of this activity. However, it is recommended that at least an hour be devoted to the Bowl Event and five to eight hours to research and preparation.
This is a lesson plan that uses photographs as primary sources and that can help students develop historical analysis skills. After completing the introductory lesson using photographs as primary sources, students compile their own albums based on a thesis statement about life in the 20th century.
This unit includes four lessons using primary sources to examine continuity and change in the governing of the United States. Lessons one and two are focused on a study of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and provide access to primary source documents from the Library of Congress. Lesson three investigates important issues which confronted the first Congress and has students examine current congressional debate over similar issues. Lesson four features broadsides from the Continental Congress calling for special days of thanksgiving and remembrance.
This lesson, a supplement to a study of the Constitutional Convention, focuses on The Committee of Detail's draft of the Constitution submitted on 6 August 1787. The delegates debated its contents for a month before referring the document to the Committee of Style. The Committee's report, presented to the Convention on 12 September, became the Constitution of the United States.
The 1507 World Map by Martin WaldseemÌ_ller is one of the world's most important maps. For the first time, this map labels America and shows the continent as a separate land mass. It is often referred to as America's Birth Certificate. Students will investigate this map by looking closely at the details of each section of the map and then draw conclusions on the revelation of this new and unusual world to the people of 1507.
This is a lesson in which students analyze a single Civil War photograph and then find and analyze related images. The aim is to help students see relationships between the Civil War and American industrialization.
This site examines 16 inventions: the submarine, battery radio, cotton gin, reaper, electron microscope, telephone, gramophone, telecommunication cable, snow gauge, ornithopter, airphibian, and others.
This collection documents the history of human flight. Photos, drawings, and articles are presented in six categories: myth and fantasy, early science, balloons and airships, kites and gliders, the Wright brothers, and after the Wright brothers.
A lesson that uses primary documents to help students (Grades 9-12) learn about the women's suffrage movement that began in the 1840s and led to women's right to vote nationwide in 1920.
The Great War of 1914-1918 significantly shaped the course of the twentieth century, both at home and abroad. How can this pivotal event be personalized and brought to life for students in the new millennium? Unfortunately, increasingly fewer survivors of the World War I era are alive today to directly share their recollections of this historical time. Yet, by delving into the unique resources of American Memory and by creating two World War I-period newspapers of differing perspectives, students can gain an enduring understanding of The Great War