Best U.S. History Web Sites

Library of Congress

An outstanding and invaluable site for American history and general research. Includes primary and secondary files, exhibits, map collections, prints and photos, audio recordings and motion images. The Library of Congress American Memory Historical Collections, a must-see, comprises the majority of digitalized substances, but the Exhibitions Gallery is enticing and enlightening as well. The Library of Congress also provides a Learning Page that provides activities, tools, ideas, and features 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 digitized text. Utilize the Teachers section to explore 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 tools and resources to using Library of Congress primary source documents 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 production of the 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 a wonderful online resource for history teachers and pupils. One of the many digital resources are lesson plans, syllabi, links, and displays. The Center for History and New Media’s tools include a list of”best” web sites, links to syllabi and lesson plans, essays on history and new websites, a link to their excellent History Topics web site for U.S. History, and more. The CHNM History News Network is a weekly web-based magazine that features articles by several historians. Resources are intended to benefit professional historians, higher school instructors, and students of the history.
Teaching American History
This is a wonderful collection of thoughtful and comprehensive lesson plans and other resources on teaching American history. Each project was created by teachers in Virginia in a Center for History and New Media workshop. All projects include a variety of lesson plans and tools, and a few even offer instructional videos on supply evaluation. The lesson plans cover a variety of topics in American history and utilize interesting and engaging sources, activities, discussion questions, and assessments. Take your time surfing –there are many to select from.
National Archives and Records Administration
The NARA offers federal archives, displays, classroom resources, census records, Hot Topics, and much more. Besides its newspaper holdings (which will circle the Earth 57 days ) it’s more than 3.5 billion electronic records. Users can research individuals, locations, events and other popular themes of interest, in addition to ancestry and military documents. Additionally, there are features exhibits drawing from many of those NARA’s popular sources. One of the most asked holdings are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, WWII photos, and the Bill of Rights.
The National Archives: Teachers’ Resources
The National Archives Lesson Plans section comprises incorporates U.S. main documents and its excellent teaching activities correlate to the National History Standards and National Standards for Civics and Government. Lessons are organized by chronological age, from 1754 to the present.
Digital Vaults
The National Archives Experience: Digital Vaults is an interactive exploration of history that examines thousands of documents, photographs, and parts of history which were integrated 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 the record, as well as displays a huge variety of archives that are similar. The consumer has the ability to shuffle, rearrange, gather, and research archives, as well as search for certain points in history utilizing a keyword search. Even though a lack of initial organization or index might appear overpowering, Digital Vaults is a superbly imaginative source for exploring history in a digitally compiled way.
Teach Docs With DocsTeach, teachers can create interactive background activities that incorporate more than 3,000 primary-source substances in a variety of media from the National Archives. Tools on the site are designed 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, 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 historical events and personalities. PBS’s assorted and varied web displays supplement their tv series and generally include a summary of every incident, interviews (often with sound bites), a timeline, primary sources, a glossary, photographs, maps, and links to relevant sites. PBS productions comprise American Experience, Frontline and People’s Century. Go to the PBS Teacher Source for lessons and activities — arranged by topic.
PBS Teacher Resource Go to the PBS Teacher Source for classes and activities — organized by topic 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 viewing 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 key word searchable and includes lesson programs — many pertaining to history. The Students section comes with an interactive”Secrets of the Smithsonian” that educates about the special collections at the Smithsonian.
The Cost of Freedom: Americans at War
This Smithsonian website skillfully integrates 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 mystery, 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 conflict as well as 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 sites 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 can search lesson plans from subcategory and grade level; center school lessons are the most numerous.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
There is 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 art from the Museum’s collection, a chart of time intervals, a map of the region, a summary, and a listing 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 around the globe at any time 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 items (like George Washington Crossing the Delaware),”Artist” enables visitors to access biographical stuff on a selection of artists in addition to general details about their job, and”Themes 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 containing all videos. C-SPAN in the Classroom is a free membership service which offers advice and tools to aid educators in their use of source, public affairs video from C-SPAN television. You don’t have to become a member to utilize 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 sources on United States, Mexican American, and Native American history, 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 contain text by Eric Foner and Olivia Mahoney. The Doing Background 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, along with an abysmal archive including speeches, book talks 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 at St. Louis. Materials are free but you must register. 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 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
One of the most remarkable technology advancements of the modern age happened during World War II and the National World War II Memorial has 8000 objects directly related to science and technology. This impressive display includes an animated timeline, activities (such as sending encrypted 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 in the 1840s to now in addition to several patterns lately congressional election politics. The project delivers a wide spectrum of interactive and animated visualizations of how Americans voted in elections within the last 168 decades. The visualizations may be used to explore individual elections past the state level down to individual counties, allowing for more sophisticated analysis. The interactive maps highlight exactly how significant third parties have played in American political history. You could even locate expert analysis and comment videos that share a few of the most intriguing and important trends in American ideology.
Do History: Martha Ballard
DoHistory invites you to explore the process of piecing together the lives of regular men and women in the past. It’s 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, letters, maps, 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 historical documents and artifacts from the past and introduces people to the critical questions and problems raised when”doing” history. DoHistory was designed 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 focuses on Augusta County, Virginia and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and it poses a hypermedia archive of thousands of sources that creates a social history of the forthcoming, combating, and aftermath of the Civil War. Those 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 girls, 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 website that concentrates on the 1704 raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, with the objective of commemorating and reinterpreting the occasion from the viewpoints of all of the cultural groups who were present — Mohawk, Abenaki, Huron, French, and English. The site brings together many sources — historic scenes, tales of people’s lives, historic artifacts and documents, essays, voices and songs, historical maps, along with a timeline — to light broad and competing perspectives on this dramatic event.
Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition
The Missouri Historical Society has developed a comprehensive award-winning website and web-based curriculum designed to match their own Lewis and Clark, The National Bicentinnal Exhibiton. Written for grades 4-12, the units focus on nine major themes of the display and feature tens of thousands of primary sources in the exhibit. The curriculum uses the Lewis and Clark expedition as the 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 segments. One is a thematic approach that highlights the content from the main galleries of the exhibit. The other is a map-based journey that follows the expedition and presents main sources on 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 site is based on a traveling exhibition now showing at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey and bills itself as”an internet travel into the ancient spectacle of gods and athletes.” The Sport of Life and Death features dazzling special effects courtesy of Macromedia Flash technologies and its overall layout and organization are superb. You will find helpful interactive maps, timelines, and samples of artwork in the Explore the Mesoamerican World section. The attention of the site, however, is that the Mesoamerican ballgame, the oldest organized sport in history. The sport is explained through a beautiful and engaging combination of images, text, expert commentary, and movie. Visitors can also 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 big components: the background of Chicago in the 19th century, and also how the Chicago Fire was remembered over time. Included are essays, galleries, and sources.
Technology in the U.S. History in the Classroom
Here are some innovative, engaging and technology-infused classes & web 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 homeless teenagers during the Great Depression and then create their own fictionalized account of a day in the life span of a Hobo. This undertaking will be featured 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 see, see, and listen to perhaps the best student-created oral history project at 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 conducted, filmed, and transcribed interviews, generated hundreds of movie files connected with every transcript, then posted the full-text, full-video interviews with this public site. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has acknowledged Urban School’s Telling Their Stories project with a Leading 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 consider attending his summer teacher workshop.
Student News Action Network
This student-produced current events diary 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, along with Washington International School. The students have 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 personal online social network for the”Great Debate of 2008” job, a student exploration and discussion of candidates and issues enclosing the 2008 presidential election. 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 elections. Students post advice on campaign issues to the wiki and partake in online discussions and survey together with other students 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 around the world to learn more about the notions 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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