Lesson Plans

Family Customs Past and Present: Exploring Cultural Rituals

Students analyze primary sources to investigate rituals and customs of various cultures, then interview family members to deepen their understanding of their own cultural celebrations.

Explorations in American Environmental History: The Photographer, the Artist, and Yellowstone

Students analyze primary sources to understand the impact photographer William Henry Jackson and artist Thomas Moran had on the creation of Yellowstone National Park and how their artistic talents contributed to the creation of the American West. After, students may research a local environmental issue and create a work of art (photograph, painting, poster, etc.)…

Environmental Resource Management: Local and Historical Perspectives

Students analyze primary sources to understand the contexts of America’s concern for the environment. After, students produce a paper or presentation on a contemporary topic of local concern that incorporates historical perspectives with current issues.

The American Dream

Students analyze, interpret, and conduct research with digitized primary source documents to define, present and defend their ideas about what the American Dream has been in different times. After, students consider their own American Dream – for themselves, their families and loved ones, their community, their nation and the world.

African American Identity in the Gilded Age: Two Unreconciled Strivings

Students explore their personal identities, then analyze primary sources to 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.…

Absentee Voting & Voting by Mail

Students study historical primary sources to gain context and perspective regarding absentee voting, including voting by mail, throughout U.S. history. After, students can investigate election voting laws and issues related to absentee voting and voting by mail to help them craft an editorial in support of or against these practices.

Pandemic and Civic Virtue: The American Red Cross and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918

Historical primary sources provide examples of civic virtue–that is, of citizens dedicating themselves to the common welfare, even at the cost of their own interests. By examining such sources, students can reflect on how civic virtue was practiced in the past, and how the concept might apply today. 

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