Online Resources for History Teachers

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  • Study Guides has over 600 articles that cover a multitude of topics. Our study guides organize core groups of articles for specific topics and you can look for other articles with our search function. In addition to articles, we also have book reviews and booklists

The American Yawp is a free online textbook. You can also get a paper copy of the book from Stanford University Press for $24.95 for each volume. It describes itself as "A Massively Collaboration Open U.S. History Textbook." Essentially it is an open-source textbook. Historians essentially modeled the textbook on the open source model that has successfully used for numerous computer programs such as Linux, MediaWiki, Wordpress, and many more. In addition to the textbook, "The American Yawp" has an outstanding Sourcebook that can be used to expand on topics. Besides being an excellent textbook, it is an outstanding option to help reduce textbook costs because it can be accessed online for free.

EEDSITEment! focuses on Lesson Plans and Study Activities. The Lesson Plans cover a number of topics and are exceptionally detailed. The plans even suggest how many class sessions should be used to teach the lesson. The lesson plan even breaks down how each day should be organized to get through all of the material. For an example, take a look at Turning the Tide in Europe, 1941-1944. It provides Background for the lesson, preparation, lesson activities, assessment, lesson extensions, and a ton of resources. These are some of the best lesson plans you will find online.

The site also has a section on Student Activities. There are over 200 different student activities that can be used in classrooms. These student activities include texts, videos, and interactive maps.

EDSITEment! is easily one of the best resources for teachers and instructors.

The Smithsonian site includes teaching lessons, interactives, videos, museum artifacts, and other teacher resources. There is a remarkable amount of material to explore. The site also has an outstanding search function. The search function allows you to look for resources based on resources type (videos, artifacts, reference materials, etc.), grade, historical era, and cross-curricular connections (look for resources that touch on multiple subjects such as economics, science, etc.)

Like the Smithsonian, the Libary of Congress is another outstanding United States government resource. The Library of Congress has multiple missions, but it has a teachers portal that allows you to more easily browse materials and search for them. It also has a search function that will help you find resources, but it isn't as good as the Smithsonian's search. It does allow you to search for content that satisfies Common Core and State materials. It also permits you to search for materials that fit organizational standards as set by the NCTE, AASL, NETS, NCSS and the NCSG.

The Stanford History Education group actually has created History Assessments of Thinking (HATS) that draw on the Library of Congress's digital resources. Here is a list of the HATS that Stanford has compiled. You can download the lesson plans from the site after you register (free) to the site. Typically, these HATS are essentially critical writing assignments. The HATS use images or statements and to get students to write critically about the content. It is a fantastic way to add a writing assignment to cover materials that you have taught in class.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute is an archive based in the New York Historical Society building in New York. Instead of relying on its 70,000 piece collection on American History it has become a resource for teachers, undergraduate, and graduate students, professors and writers. Its website has a blog called History Now that has articles, videos, online timelines, and information from the Institute's exhibitions.

The 50+ Issues from History Now typically focus on a single broad historical topic. The articles in that issue will help you dive deeper into specific historical topics such as US Immigration Laws, Voting Rights, Alexander Hamilton, and Civil Rights. Each issue of History Now links to relevant videos, articles, and even lesson plans. resource created by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. It has a mixture of resources for teachers including teaching guides, lesson plan reviews, website reviews, history quizzes, guides to best practices, and history content. has a ton content, but you will need to do a deep dive into the site to find what you are looking for. Probably the most useful aspect of the is its Website Reviews of various historical sites.

Reacting to the Past

The Voices of Democracy is a web project that focuses on great speeches from American history. There is a journal, curriculum units (based on themes, Speakers, Authors and time periods) and blog with short posts focused on key speeches. Typically, each speech part of the site will have either a video or text of the speech, an essay, teaching materials, and additional resources. Voices on Democracy also has an Grades 8-12 Educational Resource Guide that shows teachers how to use their materials and comply with Common Core Standards.

PBS Media is a resource that includes videos, interactive content, and lesson plans. The site has resources for a ton beyond history and social studies. The key component of PBS Media is its wealth of videos that have been drawn from PBS. It has over 6,000 videos (K-13+) on various social studies topics for students.

"The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is an all-digital library that aggregates metadata — or information describing an item — and thumbnails for millions of photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images, and more from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States." What does this mean? Essentially, it allows you to access sources from all over the world.

The DPLA has created Primary Source Sets for teachers and instructors. The Source Sets explore historical topics with primary sources and teaching guides. You can search for the Source Sets either through the site's search function or on the Primary Source Sets page. On the Source Sets page, you can search based on subject, time periods or recently added. For example, the Scopes Trial Source Set includes photos of the people involved in the trial, excerpts from the Tennessee biology textbooks, records of witness testimony, and even a political cartoon.

The National Archives is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for maintaining and documenting government and historical records. The National Archives has a been a resource for historians since its creation in 1934. The Archives has a number of resources available for teachers, but the is probably the useful and readily accessible feature for teachers. is designed for educators to help them connect with the Archives resources.

BBC History site focuses on short interactive stories that mix charts, videos, pictures, and text boxes. The interactives are useful for teaching subjects quickly, but they lack the depth of other sites on this list. Regardless, the interactives are fun and entertaining. Here's a link to an interactive on The London Blitz.

The Zinn Education Project is inspired by Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States which emphasized the role of working people, women, people of color and the organized social movements that helped shape history. Zinn project is much less focused on politics that can take a central role in the history courses. The Zinn Education Project has a Teaching Materials portal that helps teachers find resources based on time periods, themes, resource type, or grade level. It also has a keyword search function if you know what you are looking for. You can search for different types of resources including teaching activities, articles, profiles, posters, audio clips, websites and many others. Here is an example of a Teaching Activity entitled COINTELPRO: Teaching the FBI's war on the Black Freedom Movement.

The Organization of American Historians has a number of tools for high school and college level United States history course, but the material is primarily for members of the OAH. Memberships range in price from $45 (for students), $60 (K-12 Educators), and up to $245 (income over $150,000). The membership includes access to several OAH publications and US History Teaching Units. While there is a rationale to join the OAH as if you are United States history teacher, it probably cannot be justified based solely on the materials offered by the organization.

The American Historical Association (AHA), the largest history organization in the United States, has a much rich assortment of material for teachers and instructors. Like the OAH, the AHA is member organization and has some excellent resources on their website. They offer a mixture of classroom materials, discussions of teaching, plagiarism and a Teaching and Learning History community portal. Like the OAH, some materials will require a membership. Membership for K-12 teachers costs $59 a year.

The Best History Sites from EdTechteacher is probably the most comprehensive listing of websites for teachers in different history fields. Despite being comprehensive, it is difficult to recommend the sites because it does not appear to updated regularly. If you start going through the site you probably find a ton of dead or misdirected links. The dead-links become finstitutionaln when you get away from the large institutioanl websites.

The Open Yale Courses offer free complete courses taught by Yale History professors. It is a fantastic place to get a refresher on topics that you have not studied in years.