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Inquiry Question

Historical Context





Table of

About This Lesson

The lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration files for the Patent Office Building/National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum. The lesson includes photographs, exhibition, collection, and publication materials from the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum as well as period resources made available through the collections of other educational institutions, a private collector, and newspaper articles from 1865. Molly Sinclair, former Education Specialist and Elizabeth K. Eder, Assistant Chair, National Education Partnerships at the Smithsonian American Art Museum developed this lesson, it was edited by Jim Percoco and the Teaching with Historic Places staff. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the United States.

Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in American history, social studies, or U.S. Government courses in units on the history of the presidency and inaugurations, mid-19th century party politics, the Civil War, Washington, DC, or on Abraham Lincoln's presidency.
Time period: Mid-19th century, 1865

Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12

Objectives for students

1) To explain the purpose of a U.S. Presidential inauguration and how American citizens celebrate their new leader taking office.
2) To describe and determine the significance of Abraham Lincolnís second inaugural celebration in 1865.
3) To explain how different types of people might have viewed Lincolnís inaugural ball and why.
4) To demonstrate an understanding of Lincolnís second inaugural ball by analyzing various primary source objects, materials, and texts.
5) To discuss the role of celebratory events in personal and community life and identify places in the community associated with these events.

Materials for students
The materials listed below can either be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger, high-resolution version.
1) Two maps showing the United States at the period of the Civil War and of the City of Washington, DC in 1862;
2) Four readings: One on American presidential inaugurations and the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, one on the history of the Patent Office building, one on the March 6, 1865 inaugural ball, and one on high society and the ball;
3) Two images of primary source documents that relate to Abraham Lincolnís inaugural ball in 1865;
4) One illustration of the inaugural ball and one drawing of the Patent Office building schematic plan.

Visiting the site
The Old Patent Office Building is located at 8th and F Streets, NW, in Washington DC. The building houses two Smithsonian Institution museums: the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. It is located above the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station (Red, Yellow, and Green lines). Barrier-free access to the Museums is available at the 8th and G Street entrance. Limited on-street parking at meters and several public garages are available in the neighborhood. Admission to both museums is free. The Museums are open from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Both Museums are closed December 25. For more information, call (202) 633-7970 (recorded message), (202) 633-1000 (Smithsonian Information), or (202) 633-5285 (TTY).

For a map of the location, see Map of Location.



Comments or Questions

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