The US Capitol building during a storm. Photo by Thomas Dwyer via Flickr

The Assault on the Capitol in Historical Perspective: Resources for Educators

Published on January 7, 2021

We know teaching the events of January 6, 2021—which are not a “moment,” but the product of a long history—presents a familiar, yet unusually urgent, challenge: how can students use historical knowledge and thinking to understand current crises? Here are some resources that might help. 

Please note that this is not intended to be an exhaustive list. For the original Twitter thread listing these resources, please click here

The AHA issued a statement condemning “the actions of those who, on January 6, stormed the United States Capitol, the seat of the nation’s legislature, the heart of its democratic form of governance.” The AHA deplores the “inflammatory rhetoric of all the political leaders who have refused to accept the legitimacy of the results of the 2020 election and thereby incited the mob.”

Contextualizing Violence


General US History

International Context and Comparisons

Analogies are often invoked to create false historical precedents to create legitimacy. When the Capitol grounds were cleared, members of the crowd started chanting “Tiananmen Square”—an inaccurate analogy. Others have argued that a more appropriate analogy might be the Beer Hall Putsch (Munich, 1923.) The resources below can be used to begin discussions in a comparative context.