This immense article by Charles Mann, author of "1491", should be required reading for every teacher who ever stands up in front of a room of students and says anything about Native Americans. The native population was larger and more sophisticated before European contact than is commonly acknowledged.
Countless students have drawn diagrams of the "Columbian Exchange", this is an interview with Alfred Crosby, the man who coined the term in 1972. That date should surprise teachers, environmental history of this sort, an area popularized recently by Jared Diamond, is a relatively recent phenomenon
Although many students think of the pilgrims as settling in bucolic wilderness populated by some Indians, it might be more accurate to think of pilgrims settling in a ghost town that had just experienced a demographic disaster. Although this article is posted on a site that may (and should) trigger some validity concerns, the articles is stocked up with more than forty footnotes. Perhaps a paragraph or two could be shared with students, or at least the quotes - though this is of real value to teachers .
This article explains how recent scholarship has found a much closer connection between the history of Native Americans, African Americans and slavery than was ever thought before. Should the teaching of the Pequot War include mention of its unique role in evolution of slavery in North America? Students are often taught of the first recorded shipment first shipment of African slaves to Virginia. Why are they not taught about the first recorded law regarding slavery in Massachusetts in 1641?
In 1641 in the colony US students are taught was founded on the basis of freedom of religion, made the worship of any other God punishable by death. The law that sentences a man to death for worshiping another God is in a document entitled the "Massachusetts Body of Liberities"
If any man after legal conviction shall have or worship any other god, but the Lord God, he shall be put to death.
If any man shall blaspheme the name of God, the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, with direct, express, presumptuous, or high-handed blasphemy, or shall curse God in the like manner, he shall be put to death.
This article shows how the Maryland State Archives can be used to verify claims made in an 1872 book about the Underground Railroad by looking for evidence of one man in the book in the archives. This is what the real work of history looks like in the 21st century, something that today's history students rarely see, though they should. Instead of providing students with a drive-by description of abolition and the underground railroad - show them how difficult it is to find and vet evidence about it. Teaching them how to find the truth in the past will get them in the habit of doing it in the present
If you have ever taught the American Revolution to younger students and you want to test yourself (and I mean really subject your assumptions to radically aggressive critical thinking, watch the first minute of this except of a 2001 independent documentary film about children in Israel and Palestine. Look at the way in which a teacher in a Palestinian school has students recite over and over who deserves to rule Jerusalem. As the students repeat, one after the other as he calls on them, "The Palestinians" , think about the way in which we teach students that the Patriots in the Revolution deserved independence because their taxes are too high. The echo you'll hear may make you think more about the history you are teaching.
This picture is in the textbook so students and teachers could easily find themselves taking it as face value. Though as this article details the history of the painting and the goals of the artists - historical authenticity was not one of them!
How was the Indian Removal covered in the press - this archive from newspapers across the country presents a number of opportunities for research and primary document interpretation. How did different regions of the country view the removal? We read documents of President Jackson, Congress, and perhaps even the Native Americans themselves - but how about the American public?
Beneath all of the mythology, music and fashion of teaching the counter-culture of the 1960s, there was a reality for the people who lived through the period. Why not put your students in front of a television in August of 1969 to see the CBS News's coverage of Woodstock. This clip even includes the commercials. What makes it truly exceptional is the commentary of a reporter, this is the first draft of history, within days of the event. How much has changed?
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