More About History Matters
Welcome to History Matters, a project of the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning of the City University of New York and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Visible Knowledge Project. For contact information, and to find out more about the people behind the site, visit the About Us page. If you want to receive news about new developments on the site, please register for our newsletter.
Designed for high school and college teachers and students of U.S. history survey courses, this site serves as a gateway to web resources and offers unique teaching materials, first-person primary documents, and guides to analyzing historical evidence.
We emphasize materials that focus on the lives of ordinary Americans and actively involve students in analyzing and interpreting evidence. We welcome your participation in expanding and improving the site.
Here is a list of our current features:
- Many Pasts: contains 1,000 primary documents in text, image, and audio that emphasize the experiences of “ordinary” Americans throughout U.S. history. All of the documents have been screened by historians and are accompanied by annotations that address their larger historical significance and context. Browse a list of documents sorted by time period, beginning with the earliest. Or visit the Advanced Search to quickly locate documents by topic, time period, keyword, or type of document.
- Making Sense of Evidence: helps students and teachers make effective use of primary sources. “Making Sense of Documents” provide detailed strategies for analyzing online primary materials (including film, music, numbers, photographs, advertisements, oral history, and letters and diaries) with interactive exercises and a guide to traditional and online sources. “Scholars in Action” segments show how scholars puzzle out the meaning of different kinds of primary sources (from cartoons to house inventories), allowing you to try to make sense of a document yourself and then providing audio clips in which leading scholars interpret the document and discuss strategies for overall analysis.
- WWW.History: is our annotated guide to more than 850 useful websites for teaching U.S. history and social studies. We have carefully selected and screened each site for quality and provide a 1-paragraph annotation that summarizes its content, its strengths and weaknesses, and its utility for teachers. Information is provided on the type of resource (text, images, audio, and video) available. Browse sites by topic and time period or look through a list of some of our favorite sites. Or visit the Advanced Search to quickly locate WWW.History sites by topic, time period, keyword, kind of primary source, or type of resource.
We also include extended scholarly web reviews as a regular feature of History Matters. In collaboration with the Journal of American History (JAH) we review approximately 25 websites per year. The reviews are co-published by the JAH and History Matters and appear in both venues. The archive page offers all featured web reviews.
- Reference Desk: provides annotated links to resources on standards, citing and evaluating websites, and understanding copyright and fair use laws as they apply to the use and creation of educational materials on the web.
- Talking History: History Matters organized 25 online forums with leading historians and teachers about the teaching of major topics in U.S. history—from early settlement to the Vietnam War. Those discussions are archived here and contain many useful teaching suggestions.
- Syllabus Central: provides annotated syllabi that offer creative approaches to teaching, with particular emphasis on innovative ways of organizing the U.S. Survey and integrating technology. Teachers reflect on how a social history approach, active learning techniques, and web-based resources and new media have affected their teaching and their students.
- Students as Historians: presents examples of the kinds of projects history students, from high school to graduate school, have done on the Internet. Projects range from oral histories or essays with web links to visual essays or exhibits. Browse the full list or visit the Advanced Search to locate student projects quickly by topic, time period, or keyword.
- Digital Blackboard: provides successful web-based assignments—some we have developed ourselves, others developed by such groups as the Library of Congress and the National Archives—as practical models for integrating new media into the classroom. Browse through the full list or visit our Advanced Search to quickly locate assignments by topic, time period, or keyword.
- Secrets of Great History Teachers: In these interviews distinguished teachers share their strategies and techniques. Good teaching is more often honored in rhetoric than reality. And great teachers are generally known locally within their own schools, but less often to a larger group of national colleagues. Our goal in this section is, in part, to identify and honor those people who have taught with excellence, dedication, and distinction. But more than that, we believe that these teachers have lessons to offer the rest of us.
- Puzzled by the Past: Between 1997 and 2003, History Matters presented historical puzzles and quizzes. We are no longer adding new puzzles, but we include here an archive of 20 past puzzles that can be used in classrooms to inspire creative thinking and challenge assumptions.
- Past Meets Present: was a feature of History Matters between 1998 and 2001. In it, historians offered their views on the relationship between current events and larger historical themes, between the past and the present, placing some of the most controversial political and social topics of the day in historical perspective. We have not continued this feature, but we include an archive of past commentaries on such topics as capital punishment and gun control.
List of all History Matters documents.