Tuesday, December 22, 2015

State history websites: A terrific resource for classroom materials

Image result for state historical society

Whenever we bring engaging resources into our classrooms we're doing a good thing.  Online state history resources -- from state museums, libraries, historical societies, and archives -- are a terrific but often underutilized source for those resources.  While state materials certainly focus on the impact of historical events in their state or region, their perspective is hardly parochial.  In fact their local familiarity often helps to make the resources they assemble on national historical topics more evocative.  I've assembled this sampling of just a few state online collections as examples.

1. The Alabama Department of Archives and History has a very valuable interactive Alabama History Timeline, and a special exhibit of aerial photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March.
Aerial view of marchers approaching the Capitol in downtown Montgomery, AL, at the end of  the Selma to Montgomery March.
2. Florida Memory, a part of the State Library and Archives of Florida, has an "Online Classroom" where photographs, documents, and audio and video files are organized into units showing the impact events like the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement had in Florida.

3. The Virginia Historical Society has an online exhibit called "The Story of Virginia: An American Experience," as well an online resource book that mixes background information with primary sources and images.  They also have a "Virginia history explorer" that links to essays on how national movements impacted Virginians, like this one about the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia.

Luckily for us, the Library of Congress has assembled an alphabetical list of 71 digital portals to state history sites.  While the list is certainly comprehensive, it hasn't been updated since 2013, some of the links are broken, and the links that are working don't open in a new window.  I'm reaching out now to the Library to address these issues.

Certainly start by investigating what resources are available in the state where you teach.  Then look in other states' resources for the topics you are studying with your students.  For example, 

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