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First Hand Accounts

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6 to 12
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Here is a collection of first-hand accounts of selected battles and other events during World War I, from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand onward. They're a great introduction...more
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Here is a collection of first-hand accounts of selected battles and other events during World War I, from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand onward. They're a great introduction to the use of primary sources in studying historical events. Students may be particularly interested in comparing first-hand accounts of an event with the way in which those same events are presented today.

tag(s): world war 1 (53)

In the Classroom

Separate students into cooperative learning groups of 4-5 students, and have them look at an assigned firsthand account from the website. (Be sure to save the site as a favorite on classroom computers so students can access it quickly and without trouble.) Have students read their accounts with the end goal being that they should be able to teach their other classmates what the account says, and it's significance. These accounts do provide far more graphic information than the textbook does, so it would be interesting for students to also compare the account as to what they had learned previously. A good way to show this would be through the use of a Venn Diagram which students could present to the class after the fact. We recommend using a site such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here).

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The Battle of Gettysburg

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6 to 12
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This site from Militaryhistoryonline.com offers a complete military historian's resource for understanding the three days of the Gettysburg battle. This details in this site will be...more
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This site from Militaryhistoryonline.com offers a complete military historian's resource for understanding the three days of the Gettysburg battle. This details in this site will be overkill for all but the most enthusiastic civil war buffs, but it provides an excellent overview of the events of the battle. If a field trip to Gettysburg is in your schedule, this site would be a great starting point for either teachers or students.

tag(s): civil war (145), gettysburg (26)

In the Classroom

Use this site to supplement a lecture on the battle of Gettysburg. The site offers a lot of battle layouts and images that would be useful if pulled up on the interactive whiteboard or projector. Before the lecture pull up the images needed on the interactive whiteboard to have them ready for class. The images are mostly battle lay-outs and diagrams, but are helpful to to portray the events of that battle.

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A Time Remembered - University of Rochester

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6 to 12
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Treasured moments from the 1850s are relived in the archived collection of Godey's Lady's Book, the periodical that many scholars say changed the role of the American woman. Each book...more
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Treasured moments from the 1850s are relived in the archived collection of Godey's Lady's Book, the periodical that many scholars say changed the role of the American woman. Each book is full of poetry, sketches and articles by well-known authors of the time. From the University of Rochester.

tag(s): women (92), womens suffrage (26)

In the Classroom

One interesting feature of these books are the articles considering etiquette. During a unit on suffrage or the Women's rights movement, pass out this article or have it projected on to the board as students are coming in to your classroom. Direct students to immediately read the article and respond in some way, whether or be verbal or written in some sort of journal. This is a great comparison to make to the expectations of the suffragettes, and the rules that most in society thought were appropriate. An interesting point would be if someone said this today - are they still right? Why or why not? What things have changed that makes this statement inapplicable now? A great way to connect past and present while getting students connected to the content!

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The Making of America - University of Micigan

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9 to 12
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Journal and periodical articles from antebellum period through reconstruction. Most articles are images of the actual publication. From the University of Michigan. ...more
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Journal and periodical articles from antebellum period through reconstruction. Most articles are images of the actual publication. From the University of Michigan.

tag(s): civil war (145)

In the Classroom

Teachers can either use this site to refer students who are working on research project and are in need of primary sources, or they can use it to search for sources for their own classroom. The sources are primarily from the 19th century, so it would be perfect for studying the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, or the "Gilded Age."

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The Mexican American War - PBS

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9 to 12
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Here's a site from the PBS station in Dallas that examines the reasons behind the Mexican American War (1846-1848). This is one of the nation's least-studied conflicts, so this resource...more
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Here's a site from the PBS station in Dallas that examines the reasons behind the Mexican American War (1846-1848). This is one of the nation's least-studied conflicts, so this resource could be particularly helpful to students or American History teachers.

tag(s): mexico (34)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans and activities on this site! There is also a great interactive timeline on this site that could be used on the interactive whiteboard or projector to display for students how political boundaries were changed due to the war. This is an excellent resource for a US history classroom.

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The Star Spangled Banner - Smithsonian Institution

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6 to 12
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This site from the Smithsonian documents the historic importance of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry when Francis Scott Key wrote the song that has become our national anthem. ...more
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This site from the Smithsonian documents the historic importance of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry when Francis Scott Key wrote the song that has become our national anthem.

tag(s): war of 1812 (15)

In the Classroom

The site, apparently still under construction, includes a resource page for teachers.

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War of 1812 - Fort Erie Home Page

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9 to 12
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Information and links about the War of 1812. ...more
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Information and links about the War of 1812.

tag(s): war of 1812 (15)

In the Classroom

Use the letters from soldiers about Fort Erie to teach the content in a less direct way. Divide students into 5-6 groups, with each group assigned a different primary source to read and evaluate. Have the groups present quick summaries of their source to the class, making sure to mention who the author is and whether or not there could be bias. After all have presented, have each team pick a representative to argue in front of the class as to why their source is the most reliable and valid. After all have made their argument, have the class vote off the least reliable "survivor style" until you are left with just one! Once students are done, they are not only left with a method of critiquing sources, but the content seen in all 6 letters. A great way to indirectly teach two lessons at once in a social studies classroom!

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The Making of America - Cornell University

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6 to 12
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Cornell University created this site based on a collection of magazines and other printed materials covering the period from roughly 1840 - 1890. The listings show images of the actual...more
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Cornell University created this site based on a collection of magazines and other printed materials covering the period from roughly 1840 - 1890. The listings show images of the actual pages from the journals, so students can see images and text as they originally appeared. This makes the site a great way for students to understand just what people of the period were seeing and reading.

tag(s): journals (21)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a resource to find primary sources, whether it be for in class activities or for students working on research projects & papers. If using for classroom activities, consider having the pictures serve as prompts, introductory activities, wrap-ups or even as an analytical activity. Students can analyze whats in the picture or primary source for a variety of purposes. If using as a resource for research projects, make sure to include the site on any handouts as well as post on your class wiki or web page.

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Lawmaking for a New Nation - Library of Congress

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9 to 12
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Early Congressional Journals - From the Library of Congress. This site offers access to journals of the first U.S. Congresses. These journals were the precursor to today's Congressional...more
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Early Congressional Journals - From the Library of Congress. This site offers access to journals of the first U.S. Congresses. These journals were the precursor to today's Congressional Record. Primary source material for study of the Federalist period.

tag(s): congress (33), constitution (83)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a resource for finding primary sources that can be used in your classroom. One great way way to do so is through visual discovery, introducing the topic of the Continental Congress. Select 3-5 images from this site, choosing the most powerful and moving images. Placing the images on individual slides, allow students 1-2 minutes to observe each image. During that time period, students should be taking notes based on what they observe, predict and infer about each image. The more powerful and detailed the image is, the more information students can take out. After the class has observed all the chosen images, have a class discussion based on the notes students took. This is a great way to introduce content in a way that gets students thinking, as well as avoiding the typical lecture format.

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The Constitutional Convention

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5 to 12
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Interactive orginal paintings from the Convention, a great resource. ...more
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Interactive orginal paintings from the Convention, a great resource.

tag(s): constitution (83)

In the Classroom

Look at this site before planning your unit on the Founding Fathers and the New Republic in an American History class. Lloyd has provided a new take on the convention, creating a 4 day drama that summarizes the main events. There are a lot of primary sources and fresh takes on the convention here, making this site extremely beneficial to planning ahead for your unit.

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California As I Saw It - Library of Congress

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6 to 12
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The Library of Congress has collected original writings by settlers and explorers in California during the period 1850-1900. Indexed by author, subject, and title, this site offers...more
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The Library of Congress has collected original writings by settlers and explorers in California during the period 1850-1900. Indexed by author, subject, and title, this site offers lots of starting points for talented students interested in using primary source materials for research in history or social studies.

tag(s): california (27), explorers (65), gold rush (19)

In the Classroom

This would be a very useful site for covering the Gold Rush in a US history classroom. Select several documents and images that could be used for a document-centered activity in your classroom. Assign students to groups, with each receiving a different document and/or image. Have students fill out graphic organizers about each document, with the intentions of rotating all until students have received every one. At the end of the activity, have a class discussion of what students found and what their answers indicate. A refreshing way to teach Gold Rush history without another lecture.

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Archiving Early America

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7 to 12
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An Archivist's approach to early American documents and related information. A unique array of original newspapers, maps and writings come to life on screen just as they appeared to...more
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An Archivist's approach to early American documents and related information. A unique array of original newspapers, maps and writings come to life on screen just as they appeared to our forebears more than 200 years ago. These archival materials-- forming as they do a historical record of a significant time in the American experience-- are displayed in their original formats. Special Features: Material from 18th Century America-- all displayed digitally. Historic early American documents, trivia, life in Colonial times, Colonial crossword puzzle.

tag(s): colonial america (108)

In the Classroom

Not only is this site excellent for finding primary sources, but there is a great quiz offered that would be useful during a lesson reviewing a unit about the Revolution through the New Republic. If using learning centers incorporate the site, OR post the site on your class wiki to allow students to access it in and out of the classroom to practice. Very useful for an American history class!

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Rediscovering Jamestown - Virginia Historical Society

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6 to 12
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This site, created by the Virginia Historical Society, provides a look at recent archaeological activities around the site of the original Jamestown fort and settlement. In addition...more
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This site, created by the Virginia Historical Society, provides a look at recent archaeological activities around the site of the original Jamestown fort and settlement. In addition to descriptions and a number of photos, the site offers additional links to other sites dealing with Jamestown and early English settlements in Virginia.

tag(s): explorers (65)

In the Classroom

Use the map of Jamestown as a supplement to a lesson on the colony, and how early settlers lived. There is also information about the early settlement of Jamestown and the complications the recent immigrants faced while there. Beyond the map, students can use this site to find out information on James Fort and what these excavations are showing about life then. If in need of an activity, use this site in conjunction with several others, having students create a multimedia presentation detailing the Jamestown colony and what life was like then. After students have completed their research about Jamestown, have them create a multimedia presentation using UtellStory, reviewed here. This site allows users to narrate a picture. Challenge students to find a photo (legally permitted to be reproduced), and then narrate the photo as if it is a news report about Jamestown. To find Creative Commons images for student projects (with credit, of course), try PhotoPin, reviewed here.

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Florida Archaeology - Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research

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9 to 12
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This site from the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research provides pictures, downloadable Abode Acrobat files, and discussions about life in Florida from pre-history through the...more
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This site from the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research provides pictures, downloadable Abode Acrobat files, and discussions about life in Florida from pre-history through the present. There are sections on ancient cultures, sunken Spanish ships, and many other topics, each presented in enough detail for high school level research papers.

tag(s): explorers (65)

In the Classroom

For research projects and papers, make sure to list this site on any handouts as well as on your class wiki or webpage. This allows students to reference the material both in and out of the classroom.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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The Gold Rush - PBS

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4 to 12
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This site provides background information, timeline, and illustrated explanations of what happened during the gold rush. Originally intended to accompany the PBS documentary, the site...more
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This site provides background information, timeline, and illustrated explanations of what happened during the gold rush. Originally intended to accompany the PBS documentary, the site can also be useful for those who do not have access to the video. If you choose to use the video, there are lesson plans and handouts to use before and after viewing. The A "Fun Facts" section of information is interesting for all.

tag(s): gold rush (19), westward expansion (29)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the free lesson plans here that show you how to incorporate all the features of the site into a unit on the Gold Rush and Westward Expansion. Excellent resource for American history teachers, just be sure to save it as a favorite to allow for easy retrieval later on.

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Fur Traders & Mountain Men

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5 to 12
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A look at fur trading in the Rocky Mountain west. ...more
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A look at fur trading in the Rocky Mountain west.

tag(s): westward expansion (29)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a resource to find primary source material about the fur traders, as well as what life was like for the first American settlers on the west. This site would be useful during a unit on Westward Expansion, and primary sources can be used a variety of ways. Try finding a shorter letter or piece and projecting it on the board as students are first walking into your classroom. Have immediate directions posted on the board, instructing students to sit down and respond to a specific aspect of the piece in some sort of journal entry. This process not only sets the tone for the material to be covered in class, but it also gives you and students the time needed to settle down and get focused and ready to learn. Great resource for an American history teacher.

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The Journals of Lewis & Clark - University of Virginia

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9 to 12
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This site from the University of Virginia provides an edited version of Lewis & Clark's journals recounting their two-year journey to the Pacific and back. Good site for students interested...more
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This site from the University of Virginia provides an edited version of Lewis & Clark's journals recounting their two-year journey to the Pacific and back. Good site for students interested in primary sources.

tag(s): explorers (65), lewis and clark (15), westward expansion (29)

In the Classroom

Use these journal pages to supplement a unit on Westward expansion and these two men's travels. Select specific journal articles that would interest your students, sharing them on the interactive whiteboard while students have their own copies at their desks too. Read aloud the specific quotes you think are important, or have a volunteer do the same, asking students what this means, the impact, perspective, etc. This is a great way to segway into a lesson about analyzing, as well as summarization. At the end of the activity, have students summarize the articles in a journal, afterwards responding to a specific aspect they did or did not agree with. Interesting resource for a US history teacher.

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Lewis & Clark - PBS

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6 to 12
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This is the web site for Ken Burns' PBS series on the travels of Lewis and Clark. It provides a significant resource for studying the explorers' travels, along with study ...more
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This is the web site for Ken Burns' PBS series on the travels of Lewis and Clark. It provides a significant resource for studying the explorers' travels, along with study suggestions.

tag(s): explorers (65), lewis and clark (15)

In the Classroom

Such a great site! Use this site as a resource for anything and everything concerning Lewis and Clark. Use the interactive map over the projector to show students how far their travels extended, as well as to show the growing size of the United States at that time. There is also an interactive story that could be used as a learning center, primary sources that could be used in discussion, and various other activity ideas on this site. US history teachers will appreciate this one!

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Daniel Boone - University of Virginia

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9 to 12
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The University of Virginia's Daniel Boone site provides a discussion of the roles of Boone as both an "empire builder" and a primitivist. Interesting site for a student interested in...more
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The University of Virginia's Daniel Boone site provides a discussion of the roles of Boone as both an "empire builder" and a primitivist. Interesting site for a student interested in how historical characters acquire mythic proportions.

tag(s): heroes (25), westward expansion (29)

In the Classroom

Use this site as a learning center or station during a lesson on the famous character. Because there is a lot of information on this site, we recommend creating a follow-along to highlight for students what's most important, as well as provide you with some assessment of their participation. For help creating graphic organizers, try Mindomo, (reviewed here).

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Along the Chisholm Trail

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4 to 12
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Here's a well-designed "labor of love" site that introduces a trail used by cattlemen. Along the trail, you'll learn why the Missouri ranchers didn't like the Texas ranchers, why a...more
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Here's a well-designed "labor of love" site that introduces a trail used by cattlemen. Along the trail, you'll learn why the Missouri ranchers didn't like the Texas ranchers, why a longhorn is a great steer, and other vital facts. There's serious history in all this, and the narrative makes it fun to read.

tag(s): westward expansion (29)

In the Classroom

Use this site to teach about the "wild west," and how it was affected by the pioneers who settled it. Use this site as a learning center or station during a unit on the West and Westward Expansion. This site would probably work best with a graphic organizer to accompany it. We recommend Graphic Organizer Maker, (reviewed here).

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