NCSS Online Teachers' Library

NCSS has selected a collection of classroom activities, teaching ideas, and articles from Social Education, Middle Level Learning, and Social Studies and the Young Learner. Browse the collection, or search by historical period and grade level using the search function below.
(Collections on other disciplines are under development.)

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Documents and Civic Duties (Teaching with Documents)


—Lee Ann Potter
A one-sentence letter from school boy Anthony Ferreira to President Ford stating, “I think you are half right and half wrong ” is one of several primary sources featured in this article that highlight for students the value of responsible citizenship.

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The Garbers: Using Digital History to Recreate a 19th-Century Family


Cheryl L. Mason and Alice Carter
An online archive, "Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities during the American Civil War", provides primary sources for elementary students.

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Harriet Jacobs: Using Online Slave Narratives in the Classroom


--Cheryl Mason Bolick and Meghan M. McGlinn
With digital libraries, valuable documents become readily available, such as the writings of a former slave, Harriet Jacobs, who became an outspoken opponent of slavery.

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1863 Letter from Ralph Waldo Emerson about Walt Whitman (Teaching with Documents)


--Lee Ann Potter
During the Civil War, poet Walt Whitman was eager to work for the government. Though federal jobs weren’t easy to come by, a letter of recommendation from Ralph Waldo Emerson was able to push open government doors.

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Robert E. Lee's Demand for the Surrender of John Brown (Teaching with Documents)


--Daniel F. Rulli
John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry--considered treasonous by some and heroic by others--helped strengthen the anti-slavery movement. Students can gain a deeper understanding of this event by studying General Lee’s demand for Brown’s surrender.

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African American Women and Espionage in the Civil War


--Theresa McDevitt
African American women played key roles in the Civil War, providing valuable military intelligence to the Union army.

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Historical Fiction to Historical Fact: [em]Gangs of New York[/em] and the Whitewashing of History


--Benjamin Justice
Martin Scorsese’s movie joins a long list of films that have attempted to cater to the public’s fascination with history. Although promises of historical accuracy may woo movie goers to the theater, the author argues that big budget films should not pass fiction off as fact.

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The Escape of the [em]Pearl[/em]


--Susan Hoffman Fishman
The attempted escape of more than seventy slaves aboard a ship called the Pearl spotlights issues of morality and law, slavery in a democratic society, and the inherent challenges in deciphering history.

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Eli Landers: Letters of a Confederate Soldier


--Stephanie Wasta and Carolyn Lott
Eli Landers, a young Confederate soldier in the Civil War, wrote poignant letters home to his mother, in which he described the battles he fought in, his fears and dreams, and the suffering he endured and witnessed.

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Documenting the American South: Thomas H. Jones and the Fugitive Slave Law


--Cheryl Mason Bolick
Online research archives are making it easier for students to do in-depth research with primary sources on a historic topic. Here are activities to help students learn how the Fugitive Slave Law affected one man’s life.

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