Black History Month Websites & Resources

Resource of the UC Libraries that offers a wealth of images and some documents related to United States, and California, history, in particular.

Colonial Williamsburg: Life in the 18th Century
Subject: Colonial Virginia/America
Historical Era: 18th Century 
Description: Although situated in Colonial Williamsburg’s tourist information website, this is an impressive educational resource that offers a rich historical collection about life in eighteenth century America. A comprehensive list of subjects –People, Places, Life, Clothing, etc.– are further categorized by subjects like Race, Gender, Occupation, etc. and include myriad sub-categories under each with secondary information (biographies, essays and articles) as well as primary source information. Despite its focus on Colonial Virginia, the site nonetheless offers a broader look at Colonial America– which can be useful for teachers anywhere. The classroom tools are particularly helpful and include excellent lesson plans (linked to ABC-CLIO Lesson Plans) with primary sources as well as great interactive games, quizzes and fun activities online.

Conner Prairie
Subject: 19th Century America/Indiana History
Historical Era: 19th Century
Description: Conner Prairie is a Smithsonian Museum Institution affiliate in Indiana that serves as both an interactive history park and a rental/banquet location.  Despite the site’s extensive  promotional information, there are also select historical resources that includes information on a variety of nineteenth century subjects—some of which are related to the broader United States, and many that are specific  to Indiana history.  Although the interactive map is pretty useful, this website offers very few primary sources and scant classroom resources (with the exception of a few articles and quizzes for students.)

Crafting Freedom
Subject: The African American Experience
Historical Era: 19th Century
Grade: 3-8th grade
Description: Based around the experience of nine African Americans (“freedom crafters”), the site’s stories are designed for students in 3-5th grade and 6-8th grade (which can be modified for high school students as well) and are aligned with national standards for social studies and language arts. The website offers 36 lesson plans with accompanying videos, PDF slide shows, handouts, web-links and bibliographies. The website is limited in focus, yet offers rich lessons with a variety of teacher tools.

Encyclopedia Virginia & My Virginia
Subject: Virginia History and Culture 
Historical era: Colonial through Twentieth Century
Description: The Encyclopedia Virginia website shares Virginia history and culture through a variety of rich media sources (high resolution images and documents, audio files, and video files). Information is organized alphabetically by subject and includes comprehensive biographiesto information on Civil War battles, literary works, historic sites and more. You can also search by more general categories i.e. African American History, Technology, The Mexican War, etc.. Unique features of the site include a “Today in Virginia” posting, which marks a historical event, personality etc. and the site also includes a an interactive map with geographic markers that highlight/summarize select entries. Encyclopedia Virginia also has a My Virginiaprogram which allows you to bookmark entries, images, videos, and maps, and save them to a personal account to access at a later time. Although there is a lot of useful information on this site, there are scant, if any classroom resources (lesson plans, worksheets etc.)

Exploring the West
Subject: History of the American West
Historical Era: 19th & 20th Century
Grade: 9-12
Description: Created through the Bill Lane Center for the Study of the North American West at Stanford University, Exploring the West is designed to expand understanding of the mythic region for students grades 9-12. Organized into three broad units—Urban Growth, Maps, and Cowboys– the site offers both lesson plans (7-10 for each unit) and over 100 worksheets (based on primary sources) that align with national standards for history, geography and science. Although the subject matter is limited, the site is visually appealing and very useful for the classroom.

Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia
Subject: American Frontier History
Historical era: 18th & 19th Century
Description: This website offers a look at frontier life in eighteenth and nineteenth century America, focusing on the experience of various migrant groups (Africans, English, Irish, German) and different periods of frontier settlement (1740s, 1820s, 1850s). The site offers good background information on subjects like farming practices, migration etc., but does not have accompanying educational resources for teachers.

History is Fun/ Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation
Subject: American colonial history
Historical Era: 17th & 18th Century
Description: The “History is Fun” website focuses on both the first 1607 Jamestown settlement and the ensuing colonial history up to the Revolution in 1776. Although part of the actual Jamestown visitor site, the on-line museum offers a rich “virtual” history of the town with very comprehensive information about neighboring Powhatan Indians, African slaves, migrants, and more. It also provides great educational resources with lesson plans, image galleries and educational videos. The affiliated Yorktown Victory Center provides lesson plans for a  more general colonial history i.e. curriculum on  “Colonial Life” from  Colonial Medicine to the Revolution.

Library of Congress American Memory
Extensive resource that includes primary sources, teacher-created lesson plans for all grades that draw on LOC collections, primary source exercises and activities; lesson plans and primary source collections span a huge range of U.S. history eras and topics American Memory from the Library of Congress

Massachusetts Historical Society “Coming of the Revolution
Subject: American Revolution 
Historical era: Colonial
Grade: 6-12 Grade 
Description: The “Coming of the Revolution Website” is designed to enhance students’ understanding of the American War for Independence. The site is organized into fifteen topics (Sugar Act, Bunker Hill, Declaration of Independence, etc.) that are introduced with a contextual essay and supported by six to twelve documents (manuscript or printed) and additional primary materials—e.g., maps, engravings, broadsides, portraits, and images of artifacts. Each document page includes several “Questions to Consider,” as well as “Further Exploration” questions that propose additional research and activities for students. The site is an exemplary resource for educators with curriculum aligned to national (and Massachusetts) standards, and designed around nine “core concepts” that cut across all lesson plans. Other supporting materials include biographical sketches, a glossary, a timeline, and additional web links.

National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery Presidential Portraits

New York Public Library, Online Digital Archive

Out History
The website provides the history of LGBT in the United States. It offers documents, bibliographies, visual sources, timelines and more.

Organization of American Historians
The OAH is the major professional organization of American Historians. They hold annual conferences for scholars and teachers. See the Magazine of History–a wonderful quarterly journal for teachers that includes lesson plans and short, accessible essays written by scholars and teachers.

Plymouth Colony Archive
Subject: Plymouth Settlement 
Historical Era: 17th & 18th Century 
Description: The Plymouth Colony Archives offers a rich collection of historical materials related to the early Plymouth settlement.  This site provides an impressive array of primary sources that include court records, colony laws, seventeenth century journals and memoirs, wills and probates, town plans, maps, and more. It also offers background information on various subjects. Although most information relates specifically to Plymouth, there is some information on broader New England History, specifically related to architecture. Teachers will likely find both the sources and the many lesson plans quite useful for the classroom.

University of Nebraska, Omaha – “Teaching American History for Students”
Subject: U.S. History
Historical Era: Colonial through 2000
Description: This is a comprehensive website devoted to U.S. History from the age of exploration to modern day. It is very easy to use and includes 106 “Learning Modules” that offer historical context, several primary source documents and accompanying questions. The site also includes multimedia sources (movie clips, images, interactive graphs) on various topics.  Information and sources are likewise divided by century and can be found with a very useful search engine.  The content is likely most useful for high school or middle school students.

The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco
A collection of well organized primary sources relating to San Francisco, California and U.S. western history. Nicely indexed by year or subject.

Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War

An amazing digital archive created by historian Ed Ayers that details life in two American communities, one Northern and one Southern, from the time of John Brown’s raid through the era of Reconstruction where you can explore thousands of original letters and diaries, newspapers, census documents, church records, and more.

Welcome to Old Sturbridge Village
Subject: 18th & 19th Century New England
Historical Era: 18th & 19th Century
Description: The Old Sturbridge Village website is primarily designed to promote the built history museum (and accompanying historians in costume, 59 antique buildings, three water-powered mills, and a working farm) but also offers a limited education platform that examines early New England life from 1790-1840. It includes an interesting on-line tour of a nineteenth century New England village and a pretty good graphics database on art, clothing, children, education, trades, furnishings and  maps. The site also provides education curriculum and lesson plans that include activities such as candle making, preserving food etc.  The  “kid zone” is perhaps the best resource on the site and includes trivia, cross words and clever quizzes for elementary school age children.

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000, Teacher’s
This University of Binghamton, New York link takes you direct to the teacher’s corner, which includes a rich array of lesson ideas, document-based questions, and primary source documents on U.S. women’s history. The teacher’s corner is one piece of an enormous digital archive on U.S. women’s history. Extremely well-organized and user-friendly.

Constituional Rights Foundation
CRF Bill of Rights in Action archive (archive searchable by topic of newsletter of the Constitutional Rights Foundation, on many important court cases and current legal issues):

Multimedia Archive of the Supreme Court of the United States

Famous Trials (organized by date)

Landmark Cases by
website with pros and cons of current issues