Classroom Activities for British History: 1700-1950

Each assessment contains a wide range of source material and several questions that will help students to develop the ability to interpret and evaluate information.

We have also provided a commentary on the questions that should be of help to the student and teacher.

IR01 Child Labour Simulation (Teacher Notes)

IR02 Richard Arkwright and the Factory System (Answer Commentary)

IR03 Robert Owen and New Lanark (Answer Commentary)

IR04 James Watt and Steam Power (Answer Commentary)

IR05 The Domestic System (Answer Commentary)

IR06 The Luddites: 1775-1825 (Answer Commentary)

IR07 The Plight of the Handloom Weavers (Answer Commentary)

IR08 Road Transport and the Industrial Revolution (Answer Commentary)

IR09 Canal Mania (Answer Commentary)

IR10 Early Development of the Railways (Answer Commentary)

IR11 Health Problems in Industrial Towns (Answer Commentary)

IR12 Public Health Reform in the 19th century (Answer Commentary)

IR13 The Chartists (Answer Commentary)

IR14 Women and the Chartist Movement (Answer Commentary)

IR15 1832 Reform Act and the House of Lords (Answer Commentary)

IR16 Benjamin Disraeli and the 1867 Reform Act (Answer Commentary)

IR17 William Gladstone and the 1884 Reform Act (Answer Commentary)

IR18 The Coal Industry: 1600-1925 (Answer Commentary)

IR19 Women in the Coalmines (Answer Commentary)

IR20 Child Labour in the Collieries (Answer Commentary)

Classroom Activities for British History: 1700-1950 - History

The nineteenth century not only saw the progression of an Industrial Revolution that brought about economic, cultural, and structural changes but also a "Leisure Revolution" (See (Marcus 1974, Lowerson and Myerscough 1977, Bailey 1978, Walvin 1978, and Cunningham 1980). According to Cunningham, "there is nothing in the leisure of today which was not visible in 1880." This revolution in the ideology and practice of leisure had two distinct phases, that of 1700-1850 and that post-1850.

The earlier period reflected the roots of traditional leisure activities in which work and leisure were integrated in small-scale communal ways of life that were heavily ritualised and bound by the seasons. According to some historians, preindustrial times had a robust and gregarious culture, whose plebeian festivals (markets, fairs, and so on) were regularly patronised by the gentry as part of a paternalistic ethos. As E.P. Thompson's Rough Music argues, beneath all the elaborations of ritual certain basic properties appear, including "raucous ear-shattering noise, unpitying laughter, and the mimicking of obscenities" ("Customs in Common," Chapter 8). These rituals, whether conducted with or without the physical presence of the gentry, were certainly undertaken with their consent. Thompson therefore argues that these rituals formed a communal moral control.

These early ritualised leisure activities continued after the influx of people into the early Victorian towns. A Frenchman who witnessed a football game in Derby in 1829, was moved to remark, "if Englishmen call this playing, it would be impossible to say what they would call fighting." Bailey comments that "it became clear enough that such occasions were often now formless and convulsive compensations for the strains of a coercive industrial society, rather than the ritualised exercises of a traditional popular hedonism." Here we see a clear connection between the modification of leisure brought about by the new environment and work practises of the early Victorian town.

This new labour process of unprecedented regularity and intensity of working hours produced a new formation of leisure activity, whereby the patterns of the 1830s saw noisy drunken riot alternating with sullen silent work. Léon Faucher claimed that the urban working class "cannot partake of anything in moderation." This lack of moderation provides only part of the picture, however, although drink and the pub remained a major form of working-class entertainment throughout the Victorian period. Working-class leisure activities also included bowling, quoiting, glee clubs "free and easies" (the foundations of the music hall), amateur and professional dramatics, fruit and vegetable shows, flower shows, sweepstake clubs, and meetings of trades and friendly societies.

In an age of social dislocation, the pub also provided the closest thing to home, especially for the single man in lodgings and for the travelling artisan. For them and many others the pub remained the centre of warmth, light, and sociability. It served, in other words, as a haven for the overcrowded urban poor. The importance of the pub garden is therefore not to be under emphasised, since access to land and space had undergone a dramatic change in the early industrial Victorian city. Since land was of a premium, the working class no longer had easy access to rural fields, open areas, and communal grounds.

Time was also drastically altered by the advent of industrial capitalism and the new labour process. Market deadlines no longer governed work, thus permitting a largely self-imposed often leisurely pattern of labor based around these bursts of activity. Before the industrial revolution, time and custom followed traditional patterns, with free time characterised by elastic weekends created by Monday holidays for saints days. New industries created time major new constraints upon leisure. For example, football matches were and are still played at 3 pm on a Saturday for several reasons: (1) providers of space (always a premium in the Victorian Town) were nearly always employers or the church, (2) workers had to put in a shift on Saturday mornings, and (3) Sundays were for religious activities.

As the new industrial process curtailed traditional agrarian liberties, Sundays became the only common free day, and in the case of the working wife not even this day remained free, as she had to undertake domestic activities such as washing. According to Lowerson and Myerscough, "the limits on space and time in the crowded conditions of Victorian towns require the adoption of games and entertainments, for participants and spectators alike, which are brief in duration and sparing in their use of land." Leisure had now developed the new concept of the spectator.

The public rowdiness and drunkenness of working-class leisure activities, irregular time keeping, and drunkenness all conflicted with industrial labor. As this new growing production-owning bourgeoisie class became increasingly powerful, their attitudes and values played a major influential role in the progression of leisure.


Bailey, P.C. Music Hall The Business of Pleasure . Milton Keynes: Open University Press. 1986.

Bailey, P.C. Leisure, Culture and the Historian . Leisure Studies 8 E.& F.N. Spon Ltd. 1989. Pp. 109-122.

Cunningham, H. Leisure in the Industrial Revolution c1780-c1880 . London: Croom Helm. 1980.

Cunningham, H. Leisure, in The Working Class England, 1875-1914 . London: Croom Helm. 1985.

Leader, A. Culture Theory and Popular Culture . Brighton: Harvester/Wheatshed. 1974.

Lowerson, J.& Myerscough, J. Time to Spare in Victorian England . Harvester Press. 1977.

Robbinson, K. Nineteenth-Century Britain . Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1988.

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Description: This awesome map allows students to click on any of the colonies or major cities in the colonies to learn all about their histories and characteristics from a single map and page! Below this map is an interactive scavenger hunt. Answer the multiple choice questions by using the interactive map. You'll get immediate feedback. Alternatively, you can print out the scavenger hunt.

Type: Interactive Map or Tour

Description: This page tells about the history of the Connecticut Colony.

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The stock market had a number of good years following the Panic of 1812. However, in 1837, the wheat crop failed and the economy of Britain collapsed. This led to the failure of a number of New York brokerage firms and a loss in the value of labor. The stock market recovered its losses by 1843.

In 1857, the most popular stock on the market was railroad securities. The Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company, which had invested heavily in the market, suddenly collapsed. This led to the seizing of liquidity in more than 900 firms in New York. Recovery took two years.

In recent times, it is easy to recognize that there has been a general move towards promoting outside activities across all manner of organizations and groups. For instance, organisations such as The National Trust and Ordnance Survey are keen to promote outdoor experiences in their literature. An online presence advocates.

The University of Chichester&rsquos three-year BA (Hons) Degree for Primary Education and Teaching involves learning how to provide rigorous and creative educational opportunities for children. The course involves one creativity module each year. The final one involves the development of skills and confidence in creating problem-solving. Four of us were.

Timeline of the British Empire

The British Empire is remembered for its extensive, long-lasting and far-reaching imperial activities that ushered in an era of globalisation and connectivity. The British Empire began in its formative years in the sixteenth century and flourished and grew dramatically, lasting until the twentieth century.

1497 – John Cabot is sent by King Henry VII on an expedition to discover a route to Asia via the Atlantic. Cabot managed to reach the coast of Newfoundland and believed he had made it as far as Asia.
1502 – Henry VII commissioned another voyage, a joint venture between the English and Portuguese to North America.
1547 – Italian explorer Sebastian Cabot, employed by the English Crown, returned to England with information about the Spanish and Portuguese overseas explorations.
1552 – English naval officer Thomas Wyndham brought back sugar and molasses from Guinea.
1554 – Sir Hugh Willoughby, an English soldier and navigator, led a fleet of vessels in search of a northeast route to the Far East. Whilst he perished during the journey, the other vessel was successful in creating a trade agreement with Russia.
1556 – The Tudor conquest of Ireland led to land confiscation to be used for plantations.
1562 – The English naval commander John Hawkins began his involvement in the slave trade between West Africa and the New World. Hawkins, alongside Francis Drake, were given permission for privateering raids against Spanish ports in the Americas showing the determination to catch up with the success of the Spanish and Portuguese in this new “Age of Discovery”.

Sir Frances Drake

1577 – Francis Drake began his circumnavigation of the world which he completed in 1580.
1578 – The Levant Trading Company was founded in London for trading with the Ottoman Empire.
1597 – The Act of Parliament was passed which allowed transportation of convicted criminals to the colonies.
1600 – Formation of the East India Company.
1604 – Attempts made to establish a colony in Guiana.

Captain John Smith landing at Jamestown, Virginia, 1607

1607 – Captain John Smith and the Virginia Company managed to establish the first permanent settlement in the Americas at Jamestown.
1615 – Defeat of the Portuguese at Bombay in a dispute with the English over trading rights.
1617 – Sir Walter Raleigh begins his voyage to find ‘El Dorado’. Meanwhile a smallpox epidemic sweeps through New England, decimating the Native American population.

Arrival of the Mayflower in the New World

1620 – The Mayflower set sail from the port of Plymouth and began the journey with around one hundred passengers, mainly Puritans seeking a new life away from persecution across the Atlantic.
1624 – Settlements successfully established at St. Kitts.
1627 – Settlements established in Barbados.
1628 – Settlements established on Nevis.
1633 – English trading post established in Bengal.
1639 – The English settle at Madras.
1655 – The island of Jamaica was taken from the Spanish and annexed.
1660 – The founding of the Royal African Company. The Navigation Acts were passed in order to protect trading networks and products from rival powers such as the Dutch.

Charles II and Catherine de Braganza

1661 – Charles II received a Dowry present from the Portuguese after his marriage to Catherine de Braganza, in the form of Tangier and Bombay.
1664 – The English gained control of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, renaming the settlement New York.
1666 – The Bahamas were successfully colonised.
1668 – English East India Company takes over Bombay.
1690 – Job Charnock formally founded Calcutta on behalf of the East India Company. (This has been disputed and is not universally recognised).
1708 – British East India Company and a rival company were merged into the United Company of Merchants of England, trading to the East Indies.
1713 – The Treaty of Utrecht successfully concludes the War of the Spanish Succession. This treaty allows Britain to make considerable territorial gains in the Americas and Mediterranean, including Newfoundland, St Kitts, Hudson’s Bay as well as Gibraltar and Minorca. The treaty also included Britain’s right to import slaves into Spanish colonies.
1719 – Ireland declared inseparable from Britain by the British Government.

Siege of Gibraltar 1727

1727 – War broke out between Spain and Britain, resulting in the siege of Gibraltar by the Spanish. In the same year the Quakers raised the subject of the abolition of slavery in the colonies.
1731 – English factory workers prevented from emigrating to America.
1746 – Madras captured by the French.
1750 – The British and French entered discussions on boundaries in North America.
1756 – Minorca lost to the Spanish.
1763 – Rising tensions between the European powers vying for monopoly in certain areas, settlements and trading ports result in the Treaty of Paris which redistributed imperial lands. The areas of Lower Canada, land up to the Mississippi, Florida, India and Senegal were ceded to Britain. The British returned Cuba and Manila to the Spanish as part of the treaty.
1765 – The Stamp Act and Quartering Act was not well-received in the American colonies.
1769 – The Great Famine of Bengal killed over 10 million people. In the same year Captain James Cook arrived in Tahiti before making his way to New Zealand.
1770 – Captain James Cook claimed New South Wales for Britain.

The Boston Tea Party, 1773

1773 – The Boston Tea Party, a reaction to Britain’s ability to levy taxes. Rising signs of discontent in America with British rule only a matter of time before opposition turns to violence and revolt.
1775 – The American war of Independence breaks out and lasts until 1783.
1783 – Conclusion of the international conflict of the American War of Independence, impacted by French involvement, with the Treaty of Versailles. Britain is forced to recognise the independence of 13 colonies. Florida ceded back to the Spanish Senegal ceded back to France. As part of the agreement however Britain retained imperial control in the West Indies and Canada.
1787 – The British politician William Wilberforce, a member of the Clapham Sect, began his campaign to end slavery in British colonies. This led to a free colony being established in Sierra Leone.
1788 – The first ships carrying convicted criminals from England arrived at Botany Bay, Australia. This marked the beginning of several hundred people being transported, usually for petty crimes, across the world.
1801 – Irish Act of Union unites Britain and Ireland.

Battle of Trafalgar, 1805

1805 – Victory for Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar allows the Royal Navy to have control of the seas.
1806 – Cape of Good Hope occupied by the British.
1807 – Prohibition of shipment of slaves in British ships or to British colonies.
1813 – English East India Company lost its trading monopoly with India.
1816 – The Congress of Vienna was yet another attempt to establish peaceful terms between European powers. Britain returned Dutch and French colonies.
1819 – Singapore founded by Sir Stamford Raffles.
1821 – Sierra Leone, Gambia and the Gold Coast form British West Africa.
1833 – The abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire.
1839 – The Opium Wars between China and Britain, resulting from the trade of opium leading to widespread addictions. As a result the trade was forbidden in China and any opium found was destroyed. The British viewed this as an attack on free trade and destruction of British property thus war ensued.
1841 – Britain occupied the island of Hong Kong.

Treaty of Nanking, 1842

1842 – Treaty of Nanking concluded the Opium Wars and ceded Hong Kong to the British.
1843 – Maori revolt against British rule in New Zealand.
1853 – Construction of railways in India.
1858 – East India Company dissolved.
1870 – British troops were withdrawn from Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Her Imperial Majesty Queen Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India

1876 – Queen Victoria took the title Empress of India.
1878 – Occupation of Cyprus.
1800 – The First Boer War between the British and the South African Republic.
1889 – The British South Africa Co. Royal Charter was awarded Rhodesia established.
1894 – Uganda became a protectorate.
1895 – The Jameson Raid, an unsuccessful raid by the British against the Transvaal Republic.

Boer War re-enactment

1899 – Outbreak of the Second Boer War, fought between the British Empire and the two Boer States known as the Republic of Transvaal and the Orange Free State. An accumulation of tension over a century’s old rivalry between the two powers, escalated by the profits gained from the Witwatersrand gold mines, led to the Boer Ultimatum.
1917 – The Balfour Declaration announced support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.

The British Empire at its territorial peak in 1921

1931 – The Statute of Westminster gave Dominions constitutional autonomy.
1947 – Declaration of Indian Independence and the partitioning of India and Pakistan.
1948 – British withdrawal from Palestine.
1952 – Mau Mau Rebellion broke out in opposition to white British colonial rule in Kenya.
1956 – Sudan gained independence, closely followed the next year by Ghana. One by one British colonies throughout the African mainland declared independence in the next decade, concluding in 1966. The one exception was Namibia which was late to achieve independence in 1990. In the following decades numerous other countries across the globe proceeded to gain their independence from Britain, with some leaving colonial rule on specific dates whilst others achieved independence through a longer process initiated by dominion status. The breaking up of the British Empire dominated the twentieth century landscape and ushered in a new era of global relations.
1972 – Asians expelled from Uganda.
1982 – Falklands War.
1997 – Hong Kong handed back to Chinese.
Present Day – Britain and the Commonwealth Nations.

The British Empire was a crucial component in shaping lives, peoples, travel, economy, technology, politics and culture for hundreds of years. For better or worse, the impact of the British Empire has earned its place in the history books.

Jessica Brain is a freelance writer specialising in history. Based in Kent and a lover of all things historical.

2 House of Commons

The House of Commons was the elected part of the British Parliament, albeit that the electorate was made up only of a small number of wealthy men. For much of the 1700s, the Whigs were the dominant party they supported unpopular foreign-born monarchs and tended to be associated with urban areas and the “new” money made in industry and finance. In contrast, their Tory opponents were more commonly associated with the “old” inherited money of the rural landowning class. Between 1707 and 1800, 558 Members of Parliament sat at Westminster at any given time.

Extended Roleplay Exercises in the History Classroom

A couple of years ago I therefore set myself the target of teaching some major units of Russian history in the International Baccalaureate syllabus entirely through roleplay, focusing especially on topics that students had found comparatively unengaging in previous years. Textbooks were put away, worksheets went back into the filing cabinet, and teacher-talk came off the menu. Instead, we all immersed ourselves in the topic by imagining ourselves back into the past as key characters in the story. We thereby explored some of the key events, debates and developments as they unfolded over time. This approach was a radical departure in itself, but the real challenge was to pursue it in a way that improved rather than undermined the quality and quantity of content coverage. At IB and A-Level, content is quite rightly king. Without it, meaningful opinions can neither be formed nor substantiated.

Tsar Alexander III

The most straightforward way to construct a roleplay-only teaching unit is for the students to adopt generic roles and for the teacher to be the only person to adopt the role of a specific character. This involves minimal preparation for the students and keeps things tightly structured. For example, a study of Tsar Alexander III is framed around the question as to whether he was more of a reactionary than a reformer. So my approach is to adopt the role of the Tsar, whilst the students merely have to imagine themselves as nameless ‘ministers’ – half of whom should always aim to provide ‘progressive’ advice, whilst the others should be ‘traditional’ in outlook.

I start by introducing myself as the new Tsar and remind my ‘ministers’ that I have come to the throne as a result of my father’s assassination by terrorists. I immediately chair a debate between the 'reformers' and the 'reactionaries' on the subject of whether my coronation speech should pledge revenge for my father’s murder, or strike a more conciliatory tone - maybe even offering an amnesty to the killers. I also make the point that at the time of his death, my father was planning to call a new parliamentary assembly: should I announce that this is still going ahead, or not? Finally, what title should I give to my coronation speech? After talking the issues through and hearing the arguments for and against the different options available, I thank them for their input and read out the actual coronation speech that I have decided upon, which I have titled “The Manifesto on Unshakeable Autocracy”. This is the point when students busily take notes about the issue at hand, the decision the Tsar took, and their judgement about whether this policy suggests he was a reformer or a reactionary. This format is then repeated for other key policies, with homework time used to write up findings and to conduct research relating to the issues due for discussion at the next ‘meeting’.

Lenin’s Russia

Roleplay is even more ambitious and academically rewarding when it requires each student to take on the role of a specific historical character for several lessons, and the teacher takes more of a back seat. This approach enables students to get an exceptionally sophisticated understanding of historical causation and change over time: the interplay and respective contributions of different individuals to the unfolding of events is brought alive in a particularly vivid way.

For example, in our investigation about how successfully Lenin ruled Russia between 1918-1924, each student takes on the role of a different member of the government (Trotsky, Lenin, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Stalin and Bukharin form the core of this group). As an initial homework task, each students researches 'their' position on key issues facing the new Soviet state – for example whether they favour an immediate end to the war, working with other parties and employing terror as a means of control. In the lessons, I take the role of President Kalinin, acting as chairperson. Each lesson then works through issues "as they arise" between 1918-24 in a similar format to the study of Alexander III, but with the added benefit that the discussions are not merely generic arguments for and against different policy positions, but sometimes a five-way argument between key characters using genuine quotes from their own writings on the issue. As Lenin's decisions on issues are revealed at the end of each discussion, students can make detailed notes not just on 'what happened' but on how controversial these decisions were and how far Lenin was abandoning his communist ideology in favour of pragmatism.

Perhaps most importantly of all, the roleplay approach allowes students to appreciate that the question of Lenin’s success or failure works on an assumption that Lenin was actually the key decision maker in this period – one which is increasingly questionable as his health deterioriated (in later roleplay sessions, Lenin is unable to speak as he is ‘recovering’ first from an assassination attempt, and then from a series of strokes).

The Rise of Stalin (using a large bag of sweets)

The Lenin roleplay led neatly into our next topic of study by helping students to understand the nature of the different splits in the party which Stalin exploited to such devastating effect. For this study of Stalin’s rise to power, I adopted another approach again. Five students take the role of key members of the Politburo at the end of 1922 who could feasibly have taken power after Lenin’s death (Stalin, Trotsky, Bukharin, Kamenev and Zinoviev). Prior to the lesson each one prepares a short speech explaining why they are the best person to lead the Soviet Union.

In the lesson, the five candidates sit at the front of the class whilst the rest of the students form the audience. A large bag of sweets is split between the audience members and then the five campaign speeches are delivered as persuasively as possible. When the speeches are over, each member of the audience splits his or her sweets between the candidates in proportions to reflect the respective political strength of each individual, explaining their reasoning to the rest of the class as they do so. Each candidate counts the sweets they have and we record this in a spreadsheet. Then, I outline the first key event that takes place: Lenin’s funeral, and in particular Trotsky’s failure to attend and Stalin instead delivering the funeral oration. We discuss whose reputation will clearly benefit from this, and whose will suffer, after looking more closely at the details behind these developments in the form of primary source readings and video clips. After discussion, one student is nominated to decide who should lose sweets, how many they should lose, and who should gain them. The new numbers are added into the spreadsheet along with an explanation. This process is repeated to cover subsequent key events until Stalin is left in an unassailable position in 1929. The students then convert the spreadsheet into a graph to spot the key turning points, and categorise the key causes for Stalin’s rise to provide the basis of an essay.

Understanding Marxism (through arm-wrestling)

The most complex roleplay approach I have used is designed to teach political ideology rather than key events. My ‘Marxism through arm-wrestling’ unit not only provides an essential ideological introduction to a proper understanding of the 1917 October Revolution, but also helps students to form their own judgements about the respective merits of left- and right-wing ideas about how society and economy should be organised. Students act out a roleplay over several rounds which is deliberately designed to illustrate the Marxist conception of how free market economies function.

51 Great Online Resources for History Teachers

We are currently building this page to help history and social studies teachers, instructors and professors find useful online resources. This project will probably never end because new sites are continuously created and old sites disappear. We have already blown past 51 great online resources. If any of the resources link to a dead page or you would like to suggest a useful site please send an email to [email protected] Study Guides has over 900 articles that cover a multitude of topics. Our study guides organize core groups of materials for specific eras, and you can look for other articles with our search function. In addition to articles, we also have book reviews and booklists. Additionally, we have the complete Federalist Papers.

  • United States History
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The American Yawp is an outstanding free online textbook that is divided into two volumes. You can also get a paper copy of the book from the Stanford University Press for $24.95 for each volume. The American Yawp is a massive "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 been successfully used for numerous computer programs such as Linux, MediaWiki, Wordpress, and many more. In addition to the textbook, "The American Yawp" has an excellent Sourcebook that can be used to expand on topics with primary source documents.

Besides being an excellent textbook, it is a great way to help reduce textbook costs for students because it can be accessed online for free.

EEDSITEment! focuses on Lesson Plans and Study Activities. The Lesson Plans cover some topics and are exceptionally detailed. The plans even suggest how many class sessions should be used to teach the lesson. The lesson plan also breaks down how each day should be organized to get through all of the material. For 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.

State Online History Encyclopedias and Archive Collections:

Many states have created online history websites through state historical organizations, state universities, university presses, and state humanities organizations. Some of the sites are fantastic and others are pretty underwhelming. Still, if you need your students to write about your state or a doing a state-based history project, it can be a good place to explore first. Additionally, some states have websites that can direct students to archives but most of these archives are not online. I am also concerned that some of the state resources for archives are not considered secure by google. While that is both concerning and embarrassing, it probably should not prevent students from using the websites.

    The DPLA includes a number of Primary Source Sets that allow teachers and students to explore specific topics. Additionally, the site may also be helpful if your state lacks a solid history site because it includes resources from all over the country. - This is only an archive - no articles. Most of the archives do not have any online resources available. This site is a collection of California university archives and libraries. Includes a history blog focused on DC and links to archives. - Content is pretty limited

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.)

The United States National Archives The National Archives has a ton of resources on US history that focuses on primary source documents. Additionally, the Archives has created syllabi on how to teach students how to analyze primary sources. The Archives also created the DOCSTeach online tool for teaching archives from the National Archives.

The Archives has produced material that is primarily intended for middle and high school students. Here is an example of one of their Lesson Plans: Teaching Six Big Ideas in Constitution It creates several day ways to help to teach these documents.

Chronicling America is a digitized resource from the Libary of Congress and the National Endowment for the Arts. Chronicling America has a massive database of newspapers from all around the country. It is an outstanding place for students to learn how to use newspapers as a source for papers and history projects.

The Stanford History Education Group 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 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. has a critical mission. It provides free resources "to cultivate the First Amendment and media literacy skills essential civic life." In the new social media world, students need to know how "to authenticate, analyze and evaluate information from a variety of sources." Over the past few years, it has become clear that Americans struggle to do this. wants to help. To access you do have to register with the site, but the materials are free.

Teaching with Historic Places is a site run by the National Park Service. The site is focused on using the National Park and sites on the National Register of Historic Places as educational tools to teach history, social studies, geography, civics, and other subjects.

The National Humanities Center is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the advancement of the understanding of the humanities and is supported by approximately 50 universities, foundations, and companies created America in Class. The website provides curated primary source materials for United States history classes. These materials would be appropriate for both high school and college students. These materials are organized into thematic and time-based collections. For example, here is a link to the Toolbox The Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing: America 1815-1850. The Toolbox contains materials for different topics, checklists, timelines, topic framing questions, and source material.

The American Presidency Project, non-profit and non-partisan, is the leading source of presidential documents on the internet hosted at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

  • The Messages and Papers of the Presidents: 1789-1929
  • The Public Papers of the Presidents: since 1929
  • The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents: 1977-2009
  • The Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents: post-2009

Google Arts and Culture (formerly Google Art Project) is an online platform that allows teachers to not only connect with art in some of the best museums in the world, but also extensively covers fashion, performing arts, and world heritage sites. The site uses pictures and articles to tell unique stories about some of the most influential artists in the world. Here is a profile on Alvin Ailey and his choreography. Here's another project that introduces the art of Vermeer.

"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.

These resources were collected by Professor Evan Faulkenbury (@evanfaulkenbury) for his students. Each of these collections explores a different aspect of the American Civil Rights Movement.

  • Freedom Summer (1964) Collection - Wisconsin Historical Society
  • SNCC Digital Gateway
  • KZSU Project South Interviews - Stanford University Libraries
  • Complete interviews from Eyes on the Prize - Washington University in St. Louis
  • Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission Papers - Mississippi Department of MDAH Archives and History
  • Freedom Summer Interviews - University of Florida
  • Civil Rights Digital Library - University System of Georgia
  • Southern Oral History Project
  • Black Panther sources - Michigan State University
  • Who Speaks for the Negro? - Interviews - Vanderbilt University
  • FBI records on Civil Rights - The Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Malcolm X Project - Columbia University
  • Green Book Digital Archive - New York Public Library
  • NY Black Freedom Struggle - Rochester University
  • Umbra - Umbra Search African American History
  • Goin' North - West Chester University
  • Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina - The North Carolina Digital Collections from the State Library of North Carolina and the State Archives of North Carolina
  • Nursing Clio - Nursing Clio describes itself as "open access, peer-reviewed, collaborative blog project that ties historical scholarship to present-day issues related to gender and medicine. Bodies, reproductive rights, and health care are often at the center of social, cultural, and political debates. We believe the issues that dominate today’s headlines and affect our daily lives reach far back into the past — that the personal is historical."
  • Tropics of Meta - Tropics of Meta describes itself as a site dedicated to offering "a fresh perspective on history, current events, popular culture, and issues in the academic world. Founded in 2010, ToM has published over 700 essays by historians, social scientists, artists, filmmakers, and creative writers both within and outside the academy, giving voice to communities across the United States and the world."
  • We're History - "We’re History tells the story of America and how the country became what it is today. Written by scholars, it is real history with all its triumphs, failures, twists, and ironies. Our contributors come from inside and outside of academia, but they are all committed to the idea that it is history that has made us who we are." We're History has a ton of great articles addressing different aspects of American History.
  • The Junto - The Junto "Americanists dedicated to providing content of general interest to other early Americanists and those interested in early American history, as well as a forum for discussion of relevant historical and academic topics."
  • Points: The Blog of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society - The Points Blog "is an academic group blog that brings together scholars with wide-ranging expertise with the goal of producing original and thoughtful reflections on the history of alcohol and drugs, the web of policy surrounding them, and their place in popular culture."
  • Process: A Blog for American History - "Process—the blog of the Organization of American Historians, The Journal of American History, and The American Historian—strives to engage professional historians and general readers in a better understanding of U.S. history."
  • U.S. History Scene - This site is a fantastic resource for articles, primary sources, syllabi, and reading list covering American History. It describes itself as "a multimedia education website composed of historians and educators at over fifty universities dedicated to teaching the American past in a global context. Our goal is to use innovative open source technology and live digital curriculum to democratize learning and help history lovers master United States history in a way that is entertaining, relevant, and intuitive."
  • Balkinization - Balkinization publishes articles that address current constitutional and legal issues with a historical lens. The authors are a collection of historians and law professors. They often explain currently relevant legal questions that are in the news. If there is a legal question dominating the headlines there is a good chance there is an in Balkinization on that topic. The only downside is that the site is somewhat difficult to use but it does have a useful search function.

Free online college-level history courses are an excellent resource for teachers and instructors. They can be used as a refresher for material that you haven't studied in years or at all. Many of the sites also include portals for educators. Most of the online courses break them up into individually sub-titled lectures. Instead of taking an entire course you can watch a specific lecture on a single topic or use the resources from the class (such as lecture slides, images readings, and assignments) in your class. The number of history courses available has grown dramatically.

Most of the courses on the sites below will allow you to access all its materials (videotaped lectures, materials, images, slides, etc.), but a few don't. The videotaped lectures may be only available when the course is scheduled. Courses may also only be available for a limited period.

Most of the online courses will require you to register, and they will most likely send your email. Typically, this process is pretty painless. Additionally, some organizations will also charge a fee if you need a certificate of completion from the site. For example, charges fees ranging from $49-99 to get a verified certificate of completion. Other sites will ask for a donation to support their programs.

Future Learn, Coursera and edX are currently the best options from this list because they get their course from multiple universities. The Yale and MIT sites appear to lack full institutional support. There numerous also other providers and some may be better options than those listed here, but the world of online courses seems to be evolving. Unfortunately, history courses are not a primary part of their offerings. Most of the sites are focusing on skills such as IT specializations and computer programing.

    - has several history classes available from multiple universities across the including Columbia, Harvard, Purdue, Peking, and others. They have one of the widest selections of course. - Future Learn has a focus on European and British History, and the courses are fairly eclectic (i.e., Hadrian's Wall, The Fall of the Roman Republic, and Why Opera Matters). As of January 2019, the site had 29 different courses available. They also have paid online degree programs for students. - is one of the largest providers of online courses in the world. It has 182 universities and organizations partnering with it. This feature allows Cousera to offer over 100 history or history-related courses. The courses offered are incredibly diverse. The courses include videos, readings, and quizzes. Some classes can be completed for free, but others are behind paywalls. You can either pay for courses individually or buy a monthly subscription. - Udemy is the largest online course provider in the world. They offer free courses, but most of them cost $9.99 or more. Their history section is relatively limited. Additionally, more than half of the classes are not in taught in English. - MIT Open Courseware has numerous history courses, but they have not added any new courses since 2017. The courses are structured more like classes and are less user-friendly. The courses also do not appear to have videotaped lectures available after the course has finished. Still, the courses do have lecture slides and additional information for educators. - The Open Yale Courses offer free complete courses taught by Yale History professors, but it only has four history courses available.

Reacting to the Past is a teaching technique that instead of relying on lectures and notes, uses elaborate role-playing games based on classic texts that require students to play historical characters. Instead of observing a lecture, students are actively working within the confines of the philosophical and intellectual beliefs of the historical figures they are portraying. Reacting to the Past requires students to explore the complicated historical situations that people lived through. As part of the game, students prepare speeches, write papers, and other public presentations to try and win the game.

Reacting to the Past was created by Mark C. Carnes at Barnard College in the 1990s. So far, it has been implemented at hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States. High schools have also started introducing Reacting to the Past in the classroom. 30+ Reacting games have been published by W.W. Norton & Co., the University of North Carolina Press and the Reacting Consortium Press. In addition to the published games, there are over 100 games currently in development.

Unlike other sites on this list, Reacting to the Past requires preparation by teachers to implement it into the classroom successfully. Therefore, Reacting has numerous conferences to help teachers add it to their curriculum. The Reacting site has an article and several videos explaining how Reacting to the Past was incorporated into the Freshman curriculum at the University of Oregon.

Watch the video: British History- VICTORIAN ENGLAND - VICTORIAN AGE (January 2022).