Best U.S. History Web Sites

Library of Congress

An outstanding and invaluable site for American history and general studies. Contains primary and secondary files, exhibits, map sets, 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 provides a Learning Page that provides activities, tools, ideas, and features for teachers and students.
The Library of Congress American Memory particularly is a superb resource for American history and general studies. Included are multimedia collections of photos, recorded sound, moving images, and digitized text. Use the Teachers department to research main set collections and themed resources. Teachers can get updates on new tools, professional development opportunities, and Library programs, events and providers.
The Library of Congress: Teachers
The new Library of Congress Teachers page provides resources and tools to using Library of Congress primary source records in the classroom and include exceptional lesson plans, record analysis tools, offline and online tasks, timelines, presentations and professional development tools.
Center for History and New Media: History Matters
A Creation of this 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 numerous digital resources are lesson plans, syllabi, links, and exhibits. The middle for History and New Media’s resources include a list of”best” web sites, links to syllabi and lesson plans, essays on history and new websites, 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 intended to benefit professional historians, high school instructors, and students of the history.
Teaching American History
This is a fantastic collection of thoughtful and comprehensive lesson plans and other resources on teaching history. Each project was created 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 educational videos on supply analysis. The lesson plans cover a range of subjects in American history and utilize engaging and interesting sources, activities, discussion questions, and assessments. Take your time surfing –you will find many to select from.
National Archives and Records Administration
The NARA delivers national archives, displays, classroom resources, census records, Hot Topics, and much more. In addition to its paper holdings (which would circle the Earth 57 days ) it’s more than 3.5 billion digital records. Users can research individuals, locations, events and other popular topics of interest, as well as ancestry and military documents. Additionally, there are features exhibits drawing from a lot of those NARA’s popular sources. Among the most asked holdings are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, WWII photographs, along with the Bill of Rights.
The National Archives: Teachers’ Resources
The National Archives Lesson Plans section comprises incorporates U.S. primary files and its excellent teaching activities correlate to the National History Standards and National Standards for Civics and Government. Lessons are organized by averaging 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 parts of history which have been integrated in a digital format. Upon entering the homepage, the consumer is given eight arbitrary archives to select from. Clicking on one will give a description along with a brief record of that record, in addition to exhibits a large variety of similar archives. The user has the ability to shuffle, rearrange, collect, 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 overwhelming, Digital Vaults is a wonderfully imaginative source 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 materials in a variety of media from the National Archives. Tools on the site are made to teach critical thinking skills and incorporate interactive elements such as maps, puzzles, and graphs.
Our Records 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. Features a teacher’s toolbox and competitions for teachers and students.
PBS Online
A great source for advice on a myriad of historic events and personalities. PBS’s various and diverse web displays supplement their television show and generally include a summary of every episode, interviews (often with sound bites), a timeline, primary sources, a glossary, photos, maps, and links to relevant websites. PBS productions comprise American Experience, Frontline and People’s Century. Go to the PBS Teacher Source for activities and lessons — arranged by topic.
PBS Teacher Resource Proceed to the PBS Teacher Source for classes and activities — arranged by topic and grade level — and sign up for their newsletter. Groups include American History, World History, History on Television, and Biographies. Many lessons include primary sources. Some lessons require viewing PBS video, but many do not.
Smithsonian Education
The Smithsonian Education site is divided simply into three main classes: Educators, Families, and Students. The Educators section is keyword 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 in the Smithsonian.
The Cost of Freedom: Americans at War
This Smithsonian website logically incorporates Flash video and text to analyze 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’s also a Civil War puzzle, an exhibition self-guide, and a teacher’s guide. The New American Roles (1899-present) segment contains an introductory movie and brief essay on the battle in addition to historic artifacts and images.
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 help with daily classroom planning, and search engines. You are able to search lesson plans by subcategory and grade level; middle school courses are the most numerous.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
There’s a lot of excellent material for art students, teachers, and enthusiasts at the 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 across the world. Each timeline page includes representative artwork from the Museum’s collection, a chart of time periods, a map of the region, an overview, and a listing of important events. The timelines — accompanied by world, regional, and sub-regional maps — provide a linear outline of art history, and allow people to compare and contrast art from across the globe at any moment ever. There is plenty more here besides the Timeline:”Just for Fun” has interactive activities for children,”A Closer Look” assesses the”hows and whys” behind Met objects (such as George Washington Crossing the Delaware),”Artist” enables visitors to get biographical stuff on a selection of artists as well as general information regarding their work, and”Topics and Cultures” presents past and present cultures with special features on the Met’s collections and displays.
C-SPAN from the Classroom
Access C-SPAN’s complete program archives including all videos. C-SPAN from the Classroom is a free membership service which features advice and resources to assist educators in their use of 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, tasks 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 resources on United States, Mexican American, and Native American background, and slavery; and succinct essays about the history of ethnicity and immigration, film, private life, and science and engineering. Visual histories of Lincoln’s America and America’s Reconstruction contain text by Eric Foner and Olivia Mahoney. The Doing History feature lets users rebuild the past through the voices of kids, 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, songs, newspaper articles, and graphics. 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 at St. Louis. Materials are free but you have to sign up. Features an impressive array of sound, video, and text sources from Frontline and American Experience reveals, Eyes on the Prize, along with 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
Some of the most remarkable technology improvements of the modern age occurred during World War II along with the National World War II Memorial has 8000 objects directly related to science and engineering. This impressive display includes an animated timeline, actions (such as sending encoded messages), expert audio responses 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 election politics in the USA from the 1840s to today as well as some patterns in recent congressional election politics. The project delivers a wide spectrum of animated and interactive visualizations of how Americans voted in elections within the last 168 years. The visualizations may be used to explore individual elections past the state level down to individual counties, allowing for more complex analysis. The interactive maps emphasize exactly how significant third parties have played in American political history. You could even find expert analysis and comment videos which share a few of the most interesting and important trends in American ideology.
Do History: Martha Ballard
DoHistory invites you to explore the process of piecing together the lives of regular people 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 hundreds and hundreds of downloadable pages from initial documents: diaries, maps, letters, court records, town records, and much more and 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 pivotal questions and problems raised when”doing” history. DoHistory was developed and maintained 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 targets Augusta County, Virginia and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and it poses a hypermedia archive of thousands of resources that makes a social history of the coming, combating, and aftermath of the Civil War. These sources include newspapers, letters, diaries, photos, maps, church records, population census, agricultural census, and military records. Students may learn more about the conflict and write their own histories 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 which 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 current — Mohawk, Abenaki, Huron, French, and English. The website brings together many sources — historical scenes, stories of people’s lives, historical artifacts and papers, essays, voices and songs, historical maps, along with a deadline — to illuminate 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 website and web-based curriculum developed to complement their own Lewis and Clark, The National Bicentinnal Exhibiton. Written for grades 4-12, the units focus on nine major topics of the display and feature tens of thousands of primary sources in the exhibit. The program uses the Lewis and Clark expedition as case studies for bigger themes like Diplomacy, Mapping, Animals, Language, and Trade and Property. It presents both the Euro-American perspective and a distinct Native American perspective. The online exhibit has two segments. One is a thematic approach that highlights the material from the main galleries of this exhibit. The other is a map-based travel that follows the expedition and introduces primary sources along the way, including interviews with present-day Native Americans.
The Sport of Life and Death
The Sport of Life and Death was voted Best Overall Site for 2002 by the Internet and has won a ton of other internet awards. The website is based on a traveling exhibition now showing at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey and bills itself as”an internet travel to the ancient spectacle of athletes and gods.” The Sport of Life and Death features dazzling special effects courtesy of Macromedia Flash technology and its general design and organization are excellent. You will find helpful interactive maps, timelines, and samples of artwork in the Explore the Mesoamerican World section. The focus of the site, however, is that the Mesoamerican ballgame, the oldest organized sport ever. The sport is explained through a gorgeous and engaging combination of images, text, expert commentary, and movie. Visitors can also compete in a contest!
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 background of Chicago in the 19th century, and the way the Chicago Fire was remembered over time. Included are essays, galleries, and even resources.
Tech at the U.S. History in the Classroom
Here are some innovative, 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 homeless teenagers through the Great Depression and then make their own fictionalized account of a day in the life span 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 read, see, and listen to possibly the best student-created oral history project in the nation. High School students at the Urban School of San Francisco have produced three impressive oral history interviews featured at this website: Holocaust Survivors and Refugees, World War II Camp Liberators, and Japanese-American Internees. Urban school students conducted, filmed, and transcribed interviews, created countless movie files associated with each transcript, 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 Leading Edge Recognition award for excellence in technology integration. Teachers interested in running an oral history project can contact Urban School technology manager Howard Levin and should consider attending his summer teacher workshop.
Student News Action Network
This student-produced current events journal includes 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 platform and far-flung students work collaboratively 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 network for the”Great Debate of 2008” job, a student exploration and discussion of candidates and issues surrounding the 2008 presidential election. The project connected pupils around the country at a wiki and a private online social network to share ideas and information 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 students in the private online social networking.
The Flat Classroom Project
The award-winning Flat Classroom project brings together large school and middle school students from around the globe to learn more about 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 more.

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