Series: Best Practices for History Lessons and History Discovery Events

History Discovery Event Digital Resources

Watercolor Landscape
Honoring Tribal Legacies: An Epic Journey of Healing (HTL) is a virtual handbook providing educators with resources to teach a more collective history of Lewis and Clark’s Corp of Discovery and the nation’s journey west.
HISTORICAL THINKING MATTERS
Focused on important topics in U.S. history, Historical Thinking Matters explores how to read primary sources like historians do and how to critique and construct historical narratives. WHY Historical Thinking Matters explains that historians “see themselves as detectives, often unsure about what happened, what it means, and rarely able to agree amongst themselves. This process of trying to figure out things you don't already know” is a far cry from mindless memorization of names, facts, and dates. Historical Thinking Matters is an award-winning project of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, and School of Education, Stanford University.

GILDER LEHRMAN INSTITUTE OF AMERICAN HISTORY
On its website The Gilder Lehrman Institute, a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education, has gathered a host of primary and secondary sources valuable to those interested in the methods historians use and the topics and eras they study. Read essays and watch video-recorded lectures by noted scholars of topics such as slavery and America, African American history, American presidents, and women's history. The Gilder Lehrman Collection of primary sources includes more than 60,000 letters, diaries, maps, pamphlets, printed books, newspapers, photographs, and ephemera that document the political, social, and economic history of the United States. The Institute sponsors summer institutes focused on key themes in U.S. history.

IMPERILED PROMISE: THE STATE OF HISTORY IN THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
Imperiled Promise: The State of History in the National Park Service is a landmark study, based on surveys of and interviews with NPS personnel. It examines the obstacles that history practitioners in the National Park Service face, highlights exemplary examples of good history practice, argues that history and historical thinking are central to our mission, urges historians and interpreters to work together, and identifies ways to make the work of historians more robust. Researched and written by four scholars familiar with the NPS and its work, the study was co-sponsored by the National Park Service and the Organization of American Historians.

HISTORY MATTERS
History Matters resources explore historical methods, topics, and evidence. The Making Sense of Evidence section can help you understand and interpret primary sources materials, including maps, films, oral history, numbers, letters and diaries, advertisements, popular songs, and documentary photography. It also includes segments that illustrate how historians determine the meaning of different kinds of primary sources, ranging from early 19th century household goods to blues songs, photographs, letters, a colonial newspaper, and a Melville short story.

The Many Pasts section features primary documents in text, image, and audio about the experiences of ordinary Americans throughout U.S. history. All of the documents have been screened by professional historians and are accompanied by annotations that address their larger historical significance and context.

In WWW.History you’ll find an annotated guide to some of the most useful websites for learning about all topics and eras in U.S. history.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION
The National Archives had teachers in mind when it created DocsTeach, but the site’s resources are helpful beyond traditional classrooms. The activities section helps users develop historical thinking skills by analyzing primary sources. Activities and sources are organized by eras, ranging from the American Revolution to the contemporary U.S. A document analysis tutorial can help you get the most out of primary sources. Browse the DocTeach site to discover more ways to practice the habits of mind of historical thinking.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
The American Memory website offers a searchable selection of documents, photographs, audio recordings, and maps from the vast collections at the Library of Congress. Explore this rich digital collection and discover resources for a host of topics, including African American history, women’s activism, and immigration. It’s easy to search digital collections by subject. Using Primary Sources offers a short primer on how to find and interpret the “raw materials of history.”

HISTORY RELEVANCE CAMPAIGN
The History Relevance Campaign believes that “History is crucially important for the well-being of individuals, communities, and the future of our nation.” Its statement on The Value of History states eloquently and concisely why history is essential to personal identity; to developing critical skills, an engaged citizenry, and leadership; to creating vital places to live and work; and to fostering economic development and a legacy for future generations.

TRACING CENTER
The mission of The Tracing Center is “to create greater awareness of the full extent of the nation’s complicity in slavery and the transatlantic slave trade and to inspire acknowledgement, dialogue and active response to this history and its many legacies.” It seeks to promote “racial justice, healing, and reconciliation, for the benefit of all.” Founded in 2009, the Center builds on its work in producing the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary, “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North.” Resources help engage “people of all backgrounds in programming that blends the historical and the contemporary, the personal and the social, ‘head’ and ‘heart’.”

ZINN EDUCATION PROJECT
History resources at the Zinn Education Project website are inspired by Howard Zinn’s landmark text, A People’s History of the United States. Resources are arranged by theme and time period. Essays in the If We Knew Our History series often focus on untold stories of U. S. history and make connections between the past and our own time. See, for example, Ten Things You Should Know About Selma Before You See the Film.


Podcasts
Podcasts have become an inventive way to engage wide audiences of listeners in historical thinking and research. Their producers are eager to make past events and issues relevant to those that concern us today.

BACKSTORY
Backstory is a nationally syndicated, hour-long, weekly public radio show and podcast hosted by renowned U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh, all based at Virginia universities. Each week “the American history guys,” as they call themselves, “take a topic that people are talking about and explore its roots in American history.” They use “stories, interviews, and conversation with . . . listeners” to “turn the things Americans take for granted inside out.” All they while, the witty history guys “have a lot of fun.” The Backstory show archive begins with initial productions in 2008. Topics include popular culture subjects such as the history of holidays and music; labor; the American economy; the environment; disabilities; and much, much more.

BEN FRANKLIN’S WORLD
Ben Franklin's World: A Podcast About Early American History is the podcast brainchild of Liz Covant, a professional historian who shares her love and knowledge of people and events who shaped early American history—and our own world. For example, one episode connected current concerns over mass incarceration to early American prisons and prisoners. Other episodes explore how to do history, such as using research archives.

THE BOWERY BOYS: NEW YORK CITY HISTORY
Greg Young and Tom Meyers, creators of Bowery Boys: New York City History, explore the city’s fascinating people and places and their effects of American culture. Every other week they look into another fascinating aspect of the Big Apple – from its street gangs to its waterfront and neighborhoods.

Last updated: September 6, 2017