Social Studies Resources

America on the Move

“America on the Move”
tells how transportation changed America. A classroom
activity guide looks at foods & families on the move (1880s),
workers & products (1920s), early highways (1930-40s),
suburban communities (1950-60s), & movement of the world’s
people & products (1970-2000). A collection of 1,000
artifacts & photos can be searched by region, time period, or
type of transportation (air, road, water) or vehicle. (SI)

Civil War @ Smithsonian

examines the Civil War through collections of artifacts.
Topics include slavery & abolition, Abraham Lincoln, the first
Union officer killed, soldiering, weapons, leaders, cavalries,
navies, life & culture, Appomattox, Winslow Homer, & Mathew
Brady. A Civil War timeline is included. (SI)

George Washington: A National Treasure

“George Washington: A National Treasure”
takes an in-depth look at the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait
of our first president. Explore the symbolic, artistic, &
biographic meanings of the sword & books by clicking on those
& other objects in the 1976 painting. Learn about
Washington’s life, ideas, accomplishments, & his tremendous
influence on the U.S. (SI)

Just VOTE!

“Just Vote!”
offers a set of five lessons to encourage student involvement
in the political process (Grades 9-12). Among the topics:
what is a good law, the Constitution’s role in evaluating
laws, what is a good citizen, the history of suffrage, &
skills required of an informed voter. (NCC)

Lewis & Clark: Mapping the West

“Lewis & Clark: Mapping the West”
features maps of the famous expedition. The Corps of
Discovery collected 30 maps from Indians, trappers, & traders,
& prepared 140 maps — most of them drawn or compiled by
Clark. The website shows the King map (created for the
expedition) & the first map displaying their geographical
discoveries. Descriptions of expedition members, life on the
trail, & help provided by Indian tribes are included. (SI)

Living a Tradition: Visit the Last of the Shakers

“Living a Tradition: Visit the Last of the Shakers”
recounts a journey into Shaker country, including a visit at
Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester, Maine, where the last of
the world’s few Shakers keep the old ways. Learn about Shaker
worship, moral codes (hard work, celibacy), their founder (a
blacksmith’s daughter born in Manchester, England, in 1736), &
their many inventions — flat-edged brooms, a rotary harrow, &
others. View Shaker works & recipes, & hear Shaker music. (SI)

National Constitution Center

“National Constitution Center”
offers lessons on the Declaration of Independence, Bill of
Rights, electoral process, executive branch, federal powers,
war making, First & Fifth Amendments, freedom of speech,
Founding Fathers, jury duty, separation of powers, & suffrage.
“Teaching with Current Events” features news stories relating
to the Constitution, discussion starters keyed to the news, &
perspectives by commentators & elected officials. (NCC)

The Fight

“The Fight”
companion to a PBS film that premieres October 18, looks at
the 1938 bout between American Joe Louis & German Max
Schmeling in the context of African-American history & the
coming war with Germany. 70,000 fans crammed into Yankee
Stadium, & millions turned on their radios to witness, on the
eve of World War II, what has been called “the most important
sporting event in history.” Listen to the broadcast of this
fight & their earlier bout in 1936. (NEH)

“The Atlantic World: America & the Netherlands”
Explores the history of the Dutch in America. Topics include
Henry Hudson, New Netherland, New Amsterdam, the sale of
Manhattan, Native Americans & the Dutch, slavery in New
Netherland, the patroon system, & Dutch place names. (LOC)

“Churchill & the Great Republic”
Presents more than 200 photos, speeches, & letters from one of
the most important & colorful leaders of the 20th century & in
all British history. Best known as Prime Minister of the U.K.
during World War II, Winston Churchill was a soldier, writer,
legislator, painter, & statesman. Listen to sound files of
famous speeches (including the Finest Hour & Iron Curtain
speeches). Learn about Churchill’s impact on world events &
history. (LOC)

“Federal Court Concepts”
Introduces students to the U.S. federal court system. It
describes the structure of the federal courts, the kinds of
cases that federal courts hear, the Supreme Court, & how
federal court decisions can be used in research. (ED)

“A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans & the U.S. Constitution”
Tells the story of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans who were
forced from their homes into detention camps during World War
II. Many spent three years living under armed guard, behind
barbed wire. (SI)

“Our Changing Voices”
Provides a lesson in which students identify issues involved in a
family or community’s migration into Nebraska. Students then
examine the history of their own families. (LOC)

Includes resources related to the summer & leisure: how
sunscreen works, why it’s hot in the summer, June 1 (longest
day) & June 21 (first day of summer), baseball stories,
Blondie & cartoon art, Bob Hope & vaudeville, pop culture from
baseball to rock & roll, a history of Wizard of Oz,
celebrations of different countries & cultures, movies
depicting leisure activities in the U.S. from 1894 to 1915,
Atlantic City Boardwalk in 1870, & Jones Beach (NY). (LOC)

“United We Stand”
Provides primary source documents that students use to examine
the working conditions of U.S. laborers at the turn of the
century & to develop their own answers to a question: “Was
there a need for organized labor unions?” (LOC)

“Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories”
Features interviews with 23 former slaves (the oldest was 130
at the time of the interview). These nearly 7 hours of
recordings provide a glimpse of what life was like for slaves
& freedmen. The former slaves discuss how they felt about
slavery, slaveholders, their families, & freedom. Several
sing songs they learned during their enslavement. (LOC)

“Working in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting”
Presents 3882 photos & 470 interview excerpts from a 1994
study of occupational culture in the cradle of the Industrial
Revolution in the U.S. Founded in 1791, Paterson, New Jersey,
became a leading manufacturer of silk, railroad locomotives,
firearms, & other products. Learn how its industrial heritage
is reflected in Paterson today. Explore business life along
one street. Hear interviews with retired workers. (LOC)

After the Great Earthquake & Fire, 1897-1916

“After the Great Earthquake & Fire, 1897-1916″
provides 26 films of San Francisco from before & after the
Great Earthquake & Fire. The earthquake struck on April 18,
1906, along the San Andreas Fault, damaging most central
California cities & killing more than 3,000 people. These
films show Market Street, Chinatown, a parade, San Francisco
viewed from a balloon, & vast devastation from the 8.3
magnitude earthquake & 3-day fire. (LOC)

The Chinese in California, 1850-1925

“The Chinese in California, 1850-1925″
presents 8,000 photos, paintings, letters, diary excerpts,
pamphlets, & speeches that portray the experiences of Chinese
immigrants in California during that time period.
Contributions of Chinese immigrants to commerce & business,
architecture & art, agriculture & other industries are
described. Chinatown in San Francisco receives special
treatment as the oldest & largest community of Chinese in the
U.S. (LOC)

A Civil War Soldier in the Wildcat Regiment

“A Civil War Soldier in the Wildcat Regiment”
documents the Civil War experience of this captain in the
105th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers. More than 350
images of correspondence, photos, & other materials are
provided from 1861-1865. The letters discuss the regiment’s
movements, military engagements, & the daily life of soldiers
& their views of the war. (LOC)

First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820

“First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820″
consists of letters, journals, books, newspapers, maps, &
images documenting the land, peoples, & exploration of the
trans-Appalachian West. The first European travelers, their
relations with Native Americans, new settlers’ migration &
acquisition of land, navigation down the Ohio River, planting
of crops, trade in tobacco & horses, & the roles of African
Americans, women, churches, & schools are documented. (LOC)


looks at European & 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, & the first
Yiddish cookbook in America. The website includes images of
Ellis Island & the Statue of Liberty, stories, & interactive
timelines & maps showing immigration patterns. (LOC)

Immigration Options For Undocumented Youth “Dreamers”

DREAMers are young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States at a young age and who consider the U.S. to be their home country. Good citizens and ambitious, the DREAMers are in search of a way to pursue the American Dream they deeply admire and desire for themselves. They intend to change the public perception of young immigrants, who are often seen as criminals and pariahs of American society. DREAMers want people to understand that they just want to contribute to the U.S. without living in fear of being sent back to a country they’re unfamiliar with. As of August 2012, it is estimated that there are 1.76 million DREAMers.

The Price of Freedom: Americans at War

“The Price of Freedom: Americans at War”
features a timeline of America’s wars, from the Revolution to
Iraq. Watch an interactive presentation on each war —
slideshows & movies, text & photos, & dozens of artifacts
(firearms, flags, uniforms). Read an overview of each
conflict; learn about its causes, major events, &
consequences. Gain a sense of how wars have shaped our
history. (NMAH)

Raid on Deerfield: the Many Stories of 1704

“Raid on Deerfield: the Many Stories of 1704″
tells the story that began when 300 French & Native allies
invaded the English settlement of Deerfield, MA. They
captured 112 Deerfield men, women, & children, who they
marched 300 miles to Canada. Later, over one-third chose to
remain among their captors. Events are examined from 5
perspectives: the Mohawk, Abenaki, Huron, French, & English.
More than 100 artifacts, 13 interactive maps, 12 essays, & 100
illustrations are included. (MA)

With an Even Hand: Brown v. Board at Fifty

“With an Even Hand: Brown v. Board at Fifty”
presents more than 80 photos, letters, newspapers,
manuscripts, maps, music, & films related to the Supreme
Court’s 1954 decision that “separate educational facilities
are inherently unequal.” The online exhibit is organized in
three parts: previous court cases that laid the ground work
for the decision, the argument underpinning the ruling & the
public’s initial response, & the aftermath. (LOC)

World Treasures of the Library of Congress: Beginnings

“World Treasures of the Library of Congress: Beginnings”
explores the creation, heaven & earth, & the founding of
civilizations, all from the viewpoint of 50 cultures. 170
images & stories from Bali, China, Ethiopia, Greece, Hungary,
Iceland, India, Japan, Java, Mexico, Rome, Russia, Yoruba, &
elsewhere are organized around three questions: Where did the
universe come from? How can we explain it? How can we record
our experience of it? (LOC)


looks at American political parties of the past, presidential
inaugurations, images of presidents & first ladies, our first
uniform election day, political cartoons by Pat Oliphant &
Herbert Block (Herblock), the 1877 electoral commission
created by Congress to resolve the disputed presidential
election of 1876, the 19th & 24th amendments (ending the poll
tax & giving women the right to vote), & the Nixon-Kennedy
debates. (LOC)
Vote: The Machinery of Democracy

“Vote: The Machinery of Democracy”
looks at the history & variety of voting methods in the U.S. –
– the voice vote, “party ticket” (paper ballots listing
candidates from just one party), Australian ballot, gear &
lever machine, & others. Voting reforms of the early 1900s,
when the U.S. electorate doubled, are described. Kinds of
voting equipment used in counties across the U.S. are shown on
a map. Innovative design improvements are discussed.

Westpoint in the Making of America, 1802-1918

“Westpoint in the Making of America, 1802-1918″
looks at the history of the U.S. Military Academy at West
Point, its contributions to American history, &
accomplishments of selected West Point graduates. Proposed by
George Washington in 1783 & created 20 years later, West Point
became an important American institution before the Civil War.

Within These Walls

“Within These Walls”
tells the stories of five families who lived in one house in
Ipswich, Massachusetts, over a 200-year period. The 10-room
Georgian-style house was built in the 1760s by a wealthy
miller & maritime merchant. Subsequent inhabitants fought in
the Revolution, against slavery, & in World War II. (NMAH,SI)


LOC — Library of Congress
NCC — National Constitution Center
NEH — National Endowment for the Humanities
NPG — National Portrait Gallery
NSF — National Science Foundation
SI — Smithsonian Institution