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Investigating: Civil War Portraits

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Social Studies +1 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old)

In this student activity, students will investigate nine portraits of people involved in the Civil War, both from the Union and the Confederacy. Through these portraits, students will gain an understanding of: experiences of people on both sides of the war; why these people are seen as historically significant; and how portraiture can communicate how a person wanted to be seen, or how others wanted them to be seen. Included with each portrait is a video that explains the historical significance of the person depicted.  Activity extension ideas can be found by clicking "Read More."

Big Ideas: 

  • Why are these people, and the developments they shaped, seen as historically significant? 
  • How does portraiture communicate how a person wanted to be seen, or how others wanted them to be seen?

Keywords: thomas stonewall jackson, william tecumseh sherman, john pelham, elmer e ellsworth, george armstrong custer, jefferson davis, abraham lincoln, clara barton

Mystery Portrait 1

National Portrait Gallery

Mystery Portrait 2

National Portrait Gallery

Mystery Portrait 3

National Portrait Gallery

Mystery Portrait 4

National Portrait Gallery

Mystery Portrait 5

National Portrait Gallery

Mystery Portrait 6

National Portrait Gallery

Mystery Portrait 7

National Portrait Gallery

Mystery Portrait 8

National Portrait Gallery

Mystery Portrait 9

National Portrait Gallery