The United States since the Civil War
Documents for Exploration
for use (for Teachers):
Each set of
documents below can be the basis for discussion. Ask your students to read
each group of documents or explore the websites the week before a discussion
session. Ask them to formulate two or three questions based on the
documents. When the class meets, break the students into groups, have them
read their questions to each other in their groups, choose a few of the
questions and talk them over for about
twenty or twenty-five minutes. Each group should select a volunteer to act as a spokesperson.
Each spokesperson can then present the group's findings to the whole class.
Discussion Questions (for Students):
What is a
discussion question? Well, it can't be answered by either "yes"
or "no." When you write your questions, try to think about how
to get your classmates to talk about the importance of the documents; what
letters, pictures, articles and speeches can tell us about how people lived and
thought; what they loved or feared; or what they believed. In any case, ask
yourself if your question is significant--that is, does it contribute to the
analysis or interpretation of America's past?
End of the Civil War:
The first three links will lead you to individual documents and the fourth
link will take you to a group of documents. As you read them and formulate
your discussion questions you might think about what defeat meant to the
Confederacy and freedom to the slaves.
of Surrender: Grant and Lee at Appomattox
of the End of the Insurrection
Bureau and Southern Society Project
You might think about what various groups expected from Reconstruction as
you read these documents.
States Joint Committee on Reconstruction
of a Convention of Negroes Held in Alexandria, Virginia
in a Segregated World
:Your discussion of these two documents might be about issues of
racism and control.
The links will take you to two sets of photographs. How can
photographs be used to interpret the past? Is it possible to
make comparisons about the experience of people in the east and in
the west by looking at pictures?
Towns in the West
Jacob Riis--How the Other Half Lives
America is a nation of immigrants, but its citizens spend little time
thinking about the experiences of their ancestors. Can you develop some
questions that will make use of the photographs and the New York Times article
to illuminate that experience?
You might think about how eras get their names. Do
these documents allow you to prove or disprove the validity of the
name "The Progressive Era?"
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
Americans were reluctant imperialists in the late nineteenth
century. What sort of questions based on these documents might
allow you to analyze their eventual acceptance of a wider imperial
role for the United States in the colonial world?
:The first document (plus readings from your text about u-boat
activity in the Atlantic) might foster discussion about cause and effect.
The second two sites could lead you to explore the nature of propaganda
and what these posters can tell you about the hopes and fears of Europeans and
Americans during the Great War.
The Zimmermann Telegram
Posters from the Great War (American)
Posters from the Great War (European)
The first and third links will take you to two large sites about
the 1920s. The first is a list of important events. You
might want to take a look just at "People and Trends" in
the third link for the purposes of discussion. The second link
contains photographs of an object that would become more and more
important to Americans as the 1930s approached.
to Hoover Presidential Library
to some very cool pictures of 1920s radios
to the Roaring Twenties
These sites could generate discussion on the contributions expected from
citizens by the state during times of war or perhaps the suspension of values
and principles during times of crisis.
Propaganda Posters from World War II
in World War II
These three documents could foster a
discussion about the use of differing points of view to create a
more balanced historical interpretation of an event.
Iron Curtain Speech
:Middle Class America discovers crab-grass!
What sorts of questions could this site be used to answer? You
might think about conformity, "white flight," and