Challenging History Education Series

Logo reads Challenging History: A St. Louis Collaborative
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Jefferson National Parks Association


"Challenging History" is a collaborative effort by historians, teachers, and National Park Service employees to promote the teaching of history in St. Louis, Missouri. The videos you see below aim to educate viewers about complex, sometimes difficult topics in U.S. history. This page will be periodically updated with new historical topics in the future.

In the first series of educational videos, Park Ranger Nick Sacco provides an overview of changes, progressions, and setbacks in the history of voting rights in the United States. How did people vote in the 19th century? Who was allowed to vote, and what restrictions were put into place to limit access to the ballot box? What are some of the major issues surrounding voting and elections in the Unites States today? Each video is under ten minutes long and designed for social studies, civics, and government classes at the high school level. Each video is audio described and captioned for accessibility purposes.

Additional information, including a downloadable discussion guide and relevant federal and state learning standards, is available on our education page to help teachers and students use these materials for a virtual or in-person classroom.

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9 minutes, 54 seconds

In the first of four videos about the history of voting rights in the United States, Ranger Nick explores a number of questions about voting in the in 19th century. Who determined whether or not a person was eligible to vote? What was it like to vote in a 19th century election? And how did federalism shape the nature of voting and elections during this time?

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8 minutes, 37 seconds

Prior to the Civil War, soldiers in the U.S. military were not allowed to vote in elections. This situation changed when Congress passed a law allowing soldiers to cast absentee ballots in anticipation of the 1864 presidential election. Ranger Nick explores the history of absentee voting and how the Civil War transformed voting rights for soldiers.

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9 minutes, 56 seconds

The Reconstruction Era saw great advancements in voting rights for African American men, but disappointment for women who also sought voting rights. Then, during the Jim Crow Era, the gains of Reconstruction were eliminated through voter disenfranchisement. Ranger Nick explores both the gains and setbacks for voting rights after the end of the American Civil War.

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7 minutes, 43 seconds

Debates about voting rights and fair elections have continued into the present. In this video, Ranger Nick explores seven different issues around voting and elections that are currently under debate in the United States.

Last updated: October 27, 2020

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