FREE Resources: History and Social Studies

from Educators' eZine

More than 30 Federal agencies formed a working group in 1997 to make hundreds of federally supported teaching and learning resources easier to find. The result of that work is the FREE web site. FREE stands for Federal Resources for Educational Excellence. The web sites listed below are excerpted with permission from the FREE web site. This month, we highlight web sites for teaching history and social studies; in other months, we feature other subject areas.

Colorado's Historic Newspaper Collection
This site features newspapers published throughout Colorado from 1859 to1930. Topics include Colorado statehood, the 1908 Democratic National Convention, Denver mint robbery, early days oftelephone service, and early gold mines. (Institute of Museum and Library Services)

Getting the Message Out! National Political Campaign Materials, 1840-1860
This site looks at politics in antebellum America. Read about the presidential campaigns. See campaign biographies of the candidates—from William Harrison, Martin Van Buren, and James Birney to Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. Learn about the "second party system." (Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project, Institute of Museum and Library Services)

Ancient Mesopotamia: This History, Our History
This site explores the everyday lives of people who lived thousands of years ago in the area now called Iraq. Learn about the "cradle of civilization" through lessons and artifacts organized around 14 themes: archaeology, prehistory, the first farmers, the first cities, daily life, religion, the role of women, the invention of writing, literature, law and government, mathematics and measurement, science and technology, art and architecture, and warfare and empire. (University of Chicago, Institute of Museum and Library Services)

Donner Party
This site provides a transcript, map, and essays for a TV program that tells the harrowing tale of what tragically became one of the most famous of wagon trains. The Donner party set out from Springfield, Illinois, for California in the spring of 1846. In July, following the advice of a guide book, they split off from the main body of the wagon train to take an untried shortcut. Read excerpts from the diary of a Donner party survivor. (WGBH, National Endowment for the Humanities)

History of Cartography
This site provides information on a multi-volume effort to assemble a comprehensive history of map making. Volumes that have been completed examine cartographies of prehistoric, ancient, and medieval Europe and the Mediterranean; traditional Islamic and South Asian societies; traditional East and Southeast Asian societies; traditional African, American, Arctic, Australian, and Pacific societies; and the European Renaissance. (Multiple Agencies)

Vietnam Online
This site looks at a war that continues to influence our thinking on military and foreign policy issues. Find a timeline, who's who, maps, personal essays, and key documents, including letters from Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy promising U.S. help against the Communist threat. Learn about U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia, a "time of confusion" at home, war powers and the Constitution, the media's role, the Cold War, and the war in pop songs. (WGBH, National Endowment for the Arts)

1897 Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaii
recounts the struggle for control of Hawaii between native Hawaiians and American business interests in the late 1800s. This 1897 petition and a lobbying effort by native Hawaiians convinced the U.S. Congress not to annex the islands. But months later the U.S.S. Maine exploded in Havana and the Spanish-American War began. The U.S. needed a mid-Pacific fueling station and naval base. (National Archives and Records Administration)

Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery
This site tells the story of Camp Chase, one of the largest prisoner-of-war camps for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Located on the western outskirts of Columbus, Ohio, the camp—now a cemetery for Confederate soldiers—played a key role in the evolution of federal policy on marking Confederate graves. (National Park Service, Teaching with Historic Places)

Independence Hall: International Symbol of Freedom
This site recounts the history of the building in Philadelphia where the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence and where, a decade later, delegates to the "Philadelphia Convention" formulated the Constitution: the Pennsylvania State House. The Pennsylvania Assembly, which had been meeting in homes and taverns, moved into the building in September 1735. It was considered the most ambitious public building in the colonies. (National Park Service, Teaching with Historic Places)

Along the Georgia-Florida Coast
This site has a travel itinerary that helps us understand key developments in America's past: encounters between Europeans and Native Americans, European settlement, plantation agriculture, and African American culture. Learn about more than 50 historic forts, churches, plantations, camps, cemeteries, districts, and monuments. (National Park Service)

Chronicling America
This site lets us search and read newspaper pages from 1900-1910 and find information about American newspapers published since 1690. (Library of Congress)