Civics in America Feature

All Teaching with Historic Places lesson plans have activities that promote civic action by getting students involved in their own community. Many lessons take public service, participation in the political process, commitment to social issues, civil discourse, and other activities as their focus. Here we have selected just a sampling of lessons demonstrating some of the different ways in which citizens have taken individual or collective action--from serving in elected office to engaging in philanthropic efforts, from volunteering in a citizens' militia to fighting for basic rights.

TwHP lessons are based on U.S. sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In particular, the Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act lesson, rather than focusing on a specific place, asks students to identify and research a variety of historic places in their communities. All of the lessons are free and ready for immediate classroom use by teachers and students in history and social studies classes.

Arthurdale: A New Deal Community Experiment (157)
Welcome to historic Arthurdale, West Virginia, a New Deal village built from the ground-up for coal miners and their families during the Great Depression.

The Battle of Bennington: An American Victory (107)
Learn how residents of New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York volunteered to serve in a militia that helped determine whether the American colonies would become an independent nation. (National Historic Landmark)

Clara Barton's House: Home of the American Red Cross (27)
Follow Barton's remarkable career as a leader of charitable causes, from caring for the wounded on Civil War battlefields to founding the American Red Cross. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

Discover Colonel Young's Protest Ride for Equality and Country: A Lightning Lesson from Teaching with Historic Places, featuring the historic Colonel Charles Young House (Lightning Lesson 2)
Trace the paths an African American cavalry officer took in his life and chart the one he took during World War I, riding horseback from his historic Ohio home to confront racism in Washington, DC.

First Lady of the World: Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill (26)
Examine how Roosevelt's activities at home reflected her interest in humanitarianism, as epitomized by her leadership in the creation of the UN's Declaration of Human Rights. (National Park)

Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act
Learn how the National Historic Preservation Act has affected your community in this lesson, written by Teaching with Historic Places staff and prepared for the History Channel's Make History, Save Historyoutreach initiative.

This lesson is an updated version of one published for the 40th anniversary in 2006.

"The Great Chief Justice" at Home (49)
Meet Supreme Court Justice John Marshall, whose public service led the court to prominence and power in the early 19th century. His opinions, formed during his early years as an attorney participating in social debates about federalism, helped shape the way the U.S. Constitution is interpreted today. (National Historic Landmark)

Growing into Public Service: William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home (15)
Visit the home of the only man to serve the country both as president and chief justice, and meet the rest of his public service-oriented family. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

Herbert Hoover: Iowa Farm Boy and World Humanitarian (34)
Consider the impact of Hoover's boyhood years on his desire to help starving children as the administrator of the Belgian Relief Commission during World War I. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

Independence Hall: International Symbol of Freedom (132)
Learn about Independence Hall and about how the international influence of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution led to the designation of the building in which they were adopted as a World Heritage Site. (National Park/UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Iolani Palace: A Hawaiian Place of History, Power, and Prestige (161)
Explore the palace, a symbol of independence, where the last Hawaiian monarchs lived and fought for Native sovereignty in the face of European and American colonization. (National Historic Landmark)

"Journey from Slavery to Statesman": The Homes of Frederick Douglass (147)
Follow Frederick Douglass on his journey from life as a slave to that of a respected statesman and investigate how three homes reflect the different phases of his life. (Wye House, the Nathan and Polly Johnson House, and Cedar Hill are National Historic Landmarks. Cedar Hill and the Nathan and Polly Johnson House are each a resource of a National Park.)

Lafayette Park: First Amendment Rights on the President's Doorstep (139)
Learn how a group of determined women selected Lafayette Park, across from the White House, to demonstrate for their right to vote, providing a First Amendment model for many others. (National Park/National Historic Landmark)

The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon (36)
Analyze the influences that shaped the symbolic meaning of the bell and understand how different movements used the bell to promote their cause and fight for rights. (National Park)

Discover the Mary Ann Shadd Cary House (Lightning Lesson 1)
Follow the footsteps a free African American woman who defied an oppressive culture and broke barriers in education, newspaper publishing, and law before and after the Civil War.

The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House: African American Women Unite for Change (135)
Learn about Mary McLeod Bethune and how she and the organization she founded promoted political and social change for African American women. (National Park)

The M'Clintock House: A Home to the Women's Rights Movement (76)
Learn how a family of social activists helped obtain equality for women in their efforts to improve society.(National Park)

New Kent School and the George W. Watkins School: From Freedom of Choice to Integration (104)
Learn about the U.S. Supreme Court case that forced the integration of public schools and meet the individuals who experienced segregation, fought to dismantle the institution, and integrated the public school system of New Kent County, Virginia. (National Historic Landmark)

North Carolina State Capitol: Pride of the State (61)
Discover how Raleigh became the capital of North Carolina and how the design of the capitol building reflected state pride as well as democratic ideals. (National Historic Landmark)

The Octagon of Washington, D.C.: The House that Helped Build a Capital (151)
Enter The Octagon of Washington, DC, to discover how a historic brick house offered grandeur and stability to the new capital of the United States in the early 19th century.

The Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March: Shaking the Conscience of the Nation (133)
Learn how people in Selma, Alabama, and national civil rights organizations worked together to end the unconstitutional denial of voting rights to African Americans in the South. (Brown Chapel AME Church and the First Confederate Capitol are National Historic Landmarks)

Separate But Equal? South Carolina's Fight Over School Segregation (158)
Discover South Carolina's 1951 "separate but equal" school building program and learn about the Briggs v. Elliott case, one of the lawsuits combined with Brown v. Board of Education.

Thomas Jefferson's Plan for the University of Virginia: Lessons from the Lawn (92)
Learn about the multifaceted intellect of Thomas Jefferson and how he fused his abilities as an architect, educational and political theorist, and politician to create a revolutionary new setting for higher education in the new American republic. (National Historic Landmark/UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant at White Haven Farm: The Missouri Compromise in American Life (154)
Discover the personal experiences of Americans in a nation divided politically on the issue of slavery through the early life of Ulysses S. Grant, who lived on a Missouri farm with his wife Julia Dent Grant and her slave-holding family in the 1850s. (National Park)

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site: Monument to the Gilded Age (78)
Discover how the Vanderbilts became one of the wealthiest families in America and how philanthropic efforts still affect us today. (National Park)

A Woman's Place Is In the Sewall-Belmont House: Alice Paul and Women's Rights (148)
Meet activist Alice Paul and visit the headquarters of her National Woman's Party in Washington, DC, to learn about how American women organized to increase their political rights in the 20th century. (National Historic Landmark)

Last updated: October 4, 2017

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