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Found 6,901 Collections


Oregon Trail

Caitlin Conroy


Allison Stacy

World War II Homefront

Allison Stacy

How Do Real Historical Resources Help Us Understand Fictional Characters? To Kill a Mockingbird

To explore this "essential question," the resources here offer different contexts for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. They can help visualize and comprehend the setting of the book and the social issues of the Depression era in the South. With that understanding, students may better apprehend the choices and values of the characters in the novel.

Supporting question: "What was it like to live in small-town Alabama during that time?"

To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the ficticious Maycomb, Alabama, which author Harper Lee modeled on her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Students may approach the images from the time period and place of the story (1930s) to consider how race and social class make a difference in how one answers that question.

Supporting question: "What important matters were in the news during that time?"

It's not a fact that Harper Lee based the trial in the novel on the Scottsboro boys, but it may have influenced her. Have students look for similarities and differences. What other events were going on? (e.g., Great Depression).

Have students explain how these resources help understand the characters in the novel.

Michelle Smith

Virtual Field Trip: New York City

Join us as we explore New York City's history, art, and culture!

Calvin Coolidge

La Maya

Para la clase de espanol, los estudiantes combinan frases en espanol de los videos con frases en ingles

Rachel Slezak

Shinto Shrines

How do religious rituals and practices reflect the core beliefs of a religion? This collection creates a virtual field trip to a Shinto shrine. Shinto is the indigenous religion of Japan, based on cultivating a positive relationship with the kami, or spirits present in the world. The religion of Shinto is centered around four affirmations. They are:

-Tradition and the family

-Love of nature

-Physical cleanliness

-Matsuri (festivals and ceremonies in honor of the kami)

Guiding questions include:

How are the four affirmations expressed in a visit to a Shinto shrine?

How does a shrine visit compare to visits to other houses of worship?

Tags: religion, culture, Japan, Shinto, shrines, analysis, compare contrast

Kate Harris

The Mughal Empire

What is the role of art and culture in the expansion of nations or empires? This collection traces the general history of the Mughal Empire and its influence on Indian art. The Mughals were a dynasty of Islamic leaders who conquered India in the 16th and 17th centuries. Their blend of influences and the stylistic preferences of the emperors created a distinct style.

Guiding questions to consider are:

How did the Mughals assert their authority over and create a sense of unity within India?

Why is art so important to powerful leaders, and how can they influence artistic styles?

Tags: religion, culture, syncretism, Islam, Muslim, India, Hindu, cause effect, chronology

Kate Harris

Exploring American Ideals in Art

How can American ideals be defined and expressed in different ways? The United States of America is associated the ideals of Democracy, Rights, Liberty, Opportunity, and Equality. Those values have served as sources of inspiration for artists as goals that the nation aspires to (even if they are not always achieved). This collection contains artworks inspired by one or more of the ideals listed above. Students should choose a work and identify which ideal it relates to: Democracy, Rights, Liberty, Opportunity, and Equality.

In a short essay based on the artwork, students should answer the following questions:

-How would the student define Democracy, Rights, Liberty, Opportunity, or Equality?

-What is the artist trying to communicate about how this idea plays out in America?

-Does the student agree or disagree with the artist's interpretation?

If desired, students could create their own artwork based on one of the American ideals.

Kate Harris

The Scopes Trial

This collection of photographs provides insight into the Scopes Trial in 1925. "Marcel C. LaFollette, an independent scholar, historian and Smithsonian volunteer uncovered rare, unpublished photographs of the 1925 Tennessee vs. John Scopes “Monkey Trial" in the Smithsonian Institution Archives. The nitrate negatives, including portraits of trial participants, and images from the trial itself and significant places in Dayton, were discovered in archival material donated to the Smithsonian by Science Service in 1971."

"Science Service is a Washington, D.C.-based organization founded in 1921 for the promotion of science writing and information about science in the media. Watson Davis (1896-1967), the Science Service managing editor, took these photographs when covering the Scopes trial as a reporter. In the 1925 trial, John Scopes was tried and convicted for violating a state law prohibiting the teaching of the theory of evolution. William Jennings Bryan served on the prosecution team, and Clarence Darrow defended Scopes."

Collection users might consider the following questions:

-How effective are court cases at swaying popular opinion? Can you think of other examples of this?

-How did this trial reflect the changes in mass media, science, and religion occurring in the 1920s?

-It is said that Bryan "won the case, but lost the argument." What is meant by that statement?

-How do these archival photographs challenge previously held conceptions of the case?

Source for text in quotes throughout collection: Smithsonian Institution Archives. Web. Accessed 16 Aug. 2016

Kate Harris

The Smithsonian in World War I

Across the nation, public institutions like museums, universities, and government facilities showed the impact of World War One. Not only did private individuals find their lives changed by enlisting to fight or taking on new "war work," but buildings and public spaces also changed by shifting over to the war cause. This collection reveals how life at the Smithsonian Institution changed in order to support the war effort from 1914-1918 through artifacts and archival materials.

Questions to consider:

-How do Americans sacrifice during wartime? Has it changed over time?

-How did the Smithsonian Institution and its employees adapt during wartime?

-What does the experience chronicled here tell us about that of other Americans? What is still missing?

Tags: WWI, World War One, homefront, war work, Smithsonian, museum

Kate Harris

The Emancipation Proclamation

How did the writing of the Emancipation Proclamation reflect the political tensions of the time? This collection reviews the writing, impact, and legacy of the Emancipation Proclamation through videos, informational texts, and art. Students can work through the lesson independently and their understanding of the Emancipation Proclamation will be assessed via quiz questions. Students will be able to determine the short-term and long-term impacts of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Kate Harris

Evaluating America's First System of Government

What kind of government best suited the needs of the rebelling colonists? In this learner resource, students will learn about the Articles of Confederation and determine if they should be remembered positively or negatively. What were the strengths of the Articles? What were the weaknesses that led to the Constitutional Convention, and the writing of a new form of government, our current Constitution?

tags: articles of confederation, whiskey rebellion, northwest ordinance, declaration of independence

Kate Harris

Frederick Douglass and "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?"

In this collection, students will review the life of Frederick Douglass and learn about one of his most famous speeches, "The Meaning of Fourth of July for the Negro" (it is also commonly referred to as "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July). They will explore the strategies he uses to persuade and compare staged readings of the speech. Next, they will consider the central question posed by Douglass--how does the history of racial injustice in the United States affect our understanding of national symbols and what they mean? In addition, how do the diverse opinions of the many citizens of the United States present both challenges and opportunities for our nation?

Teachers may draw relevant connections to today and recent protests during the national anthem by professional, collegiate, and high school sports teams.

Kate Harris

How Are Robots Changing Human Life?

This collection explores the essential question: How are robots changing human life? Students will lead an inquiry into this question through a variety of resources - objects, videos, articles, and websites - examining the history of robotics from the 16th century to the present, the problems robot designers have attempted to address with their inventions, and how they try to address them. Supporting questions to scaffold students' inquiry include: What problems were these robots designed to address? Have these problems changed over time? Have strategies for addressing these problems changed over time?

Tess Porter

Dulce et Decorum Est--Poetry from World War I

Why are artists' representations of war important? This student activity uses a poem by Wilfred Owen, "Dulce et Decorum Est," and several images to encourage reflection on soldiers' experiences and views of war. Students will explore the descriptive language and artistic choices made to determine what emotions are evoked by the art and what attitudes towards war are represented. Finally, students will be asked to consider and write about their own beliefs regarding war.

Kate Harris

Holocaust and Nazi Propaganda

Posters of Nazi propaganda from the 1920's, 1930's, and 1940's

carol danks

Ceramic Art of Prehispanic Columbia

Images of Columbian ceramic artifacts from 400 BC to the Spanish conquest.

Sergei Starosielski

The Seventies: A Crisis of Confidence

This is a teaching collection designed to support an inquiry into why the public lost confidence in the government in the 1970s (70s). Topics covered include the economic recession, the Nixon presidency and Watergate, the Ford presidency, the Carter presidency, the Iran hostage crisis, the oil embargo, the Kent State massacre and the Pentagon Papers.

Guiding questions:

-Why did the U.S. public lose confidence in the presidency in the 1970s?

-What impact did economic crises have on American lives?

Kate Harris

The Roaring Twenties

Anthony Detomo

TRETC Explores the Learning Lab

Let's take a journey to see what the Smithsonian has for you and your students. We will use this as a FRIENDLY challenge, and as a way to explore the types of diverse resources and features found in the Learning Lab.

Kate Harris

Valley forge

Material on Valley Forge

Michael Phillips

Manifest Destiny

The purpose of this collection is to consider how a visual artifact can be used to describe how Americans understood the concept of Manifest Destiny. The first document has a question and that is answered while viewing the two paintings. The collection is adapted from one created by Linda Muller and available on the Learning Lab site.

Robert Lindeman

Treaty of Versailles

This collection asks users to consider how unresolved issues from WWI may have led to the outbreak of war again in the 1930s. Included is a letter from a soldier on the end of the war, a summary of the Treaty of Versailles, and some political cartoons.

Students will analyze the documents and arrive at a prediction as to how the peace might have led to the next war.

Tags: World War I, Treaty of Versailles, League of Nations, armistice, interwar, World War I, Hitler

Robert Lindeman
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