Recommended Links for Primary Sources and Lesson Plans

As we all know, the Internet offers many opportunities for teachers to locate primary sources and lesson plans. Below is a list of quality web sites and online projects recommended by Teaching American History in South Carolina. We expect this list to grow as we discover new web projects. Please feel free to contact us to tell us of your favorite sites for primary sources and lesson plans. Your suggestions will help us revise and expand this list.


  • American Experience, PBS

    Since its debut in 1988, American Experience has brought to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation. American Experience Online premiered in November of 1995 and has produced over 60 feature sites. These sites complement the viewing experience by encouraging in-depth exploration of the issues surrounding each documentary subject beyond the television screen. Teachers can search American Experience films and web sites to explore the past on diverse subjects such as John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, the development of the telephone, the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, and much more.
  • American Memory Project, Library of Congress

    American Memory is a gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. The site offers more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical collections. The National Digital Library Program, which is part of the Library of Congress, is working to digitize the distinctive, historical Americana materials from the Library's collections and to make them available online to users worldwide. Special collections to be digitized include the documents, films, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and sound recordings that tell the American story.
  • The Civil Rights Digital Library

    The Civil Rights Digital Library Initiative represents one of the most ambitious and comprehensive efforts to date to deliver educational content on the Civil Rights Movement via the Web. The struggle for racial equality in the 1950s and 1960s is among the most far-reaching social movements in the nation's history, and it represents a crucial step in the evolution of American democracy. The initiative promotes an enhanced understanding of the Movement through its three principal components: 1) a digital video archive of historical news film allowing learners to be nearly eyewitnesses to key events of the Civil Rights Movement, 2) a civil rights portal providing a seamless virtual library on the Movement by connecting related digital collections on a national scale, and 3) a learning objects component delivering secondary Web-based resources - such as contextual stories, encyclopedia articles, lesson plans, and activities--to facilitate the use of the video content in the learning process. The CRDL advances cross-disciplinary approaches, promoting a seamless infrastructure for learning, emphasizing context and structure for digital information, and recruiting and educating new leaders for a learning society. The Civil Rights Digital Library initiative achieves its desired outcomes through a partnership among digital library and information technology professionals, archivists, humanities scholars, educators, university graduate and undergraduate researchers, academic publishers, and public broadcasters.


  • Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Documenting the American South (DAS), an electronic collection sponsored by the Academic Affairs Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, provides access to digitized primary materials that offer Southern perspectives on American history and culture. It supplies teachers, students, and researchers at every educational level with a wide array of titles they can use for reference, studying, teaching, and research. Currently, DAS includes six digitization projects: slave narratives, first- person narratives, Southern literature, Confederate imprints, materials related to the church in the black community, and North Carolina.
  • EDSITEment, National Endowment for the Humanities

    EDSITEment offers a treasure trove for teachers, students, and parents searching for high-quality material on the Internet in the subject areas of literature and language arts, foreign languages, art and culture, and history and social studies. The EDSITEment experience includes a user-friendly web site with links to over 100 of the top humanities sites and online lesson plans which integrate EDSITEment resources to promote active learning. All web sites linked to EDSITEment cover a wide range of humanities subjects, from American history to literature, world history and culture, language, art, and archaeology.

  • The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

    Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history. Increasingly national and international in scope, the Institute targets audiences ranging from students to scholars to the general public. It creates history-centered schools and academic research centers, organizes seminars and enrichment programs for educators, partners with school districts to implement Teaching American History grants, produces print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, and sponsors lectures by eminent historians. The Institute also funds awards including the Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and George Washington Book Prizes and offers fellowships for scholars to work in history archives, including the Gilder Lehrman Collection.

    The Institute maintains this website to serve as a portal for American history on the Web; to offer high-quality educational material for teachers, students, historians, and the public; and to provide up-to-the-minute information about the Institute's programs and activities.
  • National Archives and Records Administration

    The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is an independent federal agency that preserves our nation's history and defines us as a people by overseeing the management of all federal records. Teachers can use the search engine to locate specific documents or they can access the Educators and Students link to find lesson plans and tips on using primary sources. The Online Exhibits link contains exhibits on a variety of historical subjects. Featured documents include the Magna Carta, the Emancipation Proclamation, the 19th Amendment, the North Atlantic Treaty, and a letter from Jackie Robinson. Via the National Archives Experience link, explore the Digital Vaults - a new, exciting interactive experience and signature exhibit of the National Archives Experience on the Web.

Browse through more than 1,200 records drawn from more than 10 billion photographs, documents, maps and film clips in the holdings of the National Archives.

Create your own games, posters and movies. Using the online tools you can become a puzzle master or a documentary film producer in just minutes.

The National History Education Clearinghouse (NHEC) is designed to help K-12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom. The Clearinghouse builds on and disseminates the valuable lessons learned by more than 800 TAH projects designed to raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge and understanding of traditional U.S. history.

The Center for History and New Media (CHNM) and the Stanford University History Education Group have created the Clearinghouse with the goal of placing history content, teaching strategies, current research and issues, community building, and easy access to resources at center stage.

We aim to bring together the many communities involved in improving history education and professional development for history teachers, allowing practitioners, historians, administrators, and history educators to present multiple perspectives, debate current issues, and work together to improve history teaching in classrooms throughout the United States.

  • Our Documents: A National Initiative on American History, Civics and Service

    The Our Documents initiative is a cooperative effort among National History Day, The National Archives and Records Administration, and USA Freedom Corps. To help us think, talk and teach about the rights and responsibilities of citizens in our democracy, we invite you to explore 100 milestone documents of American history. These documents reflect our diversity and our unity, our past and our future, and mostly our commitment as a nation to continue to strive to "form a more perfect union."
  • Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies

    The Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies interprets the collective knowledge of the Smithsonian and serves as a gateway to its educational resources. Through research, publishing, and staff development programs for the education and museum communities, the Center promotes the understanding and use of museums. The Center publishes educational materials that emphasize inquiry-based learning with primary sources and museum collections. The Center provides photographs and reproductions, guidelines for working with them, and links to other online resources. Many lesson plans are interdisciplinary and may be listed in more than one area.
  • South Carolina Digital Library

    The South Carolina Digital Library (SCDL) is a collaborative effort that includes South Carolina’s schools, libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. SCDL’s mission is to encourage our collaborators to create, maintain, and promote digital collections that represent South Carolina's historical and cultural resources while following state-level guidelines that are based on national standards and best practices. SCDL intends to be the model for other institutions digitizing materials in the state, and will strive to provide the knowledge, resources, and capacity necessary for those institutions to complete their digital projects. SCDL also seeks to enhance the overall education and scholarship of South Carolina's citizens by coordinating free and unlicensed access to these digital collections through a central web presence.

Recommended National History Day Internet Links

National History Day in South Carolina
Provides details and information about National History Day in South Carolina.

State and Regional Coordinator
A direct link for contacting the coordinator of South Carolina's National History Day.

National History Day
Excellent information regarding the mission of National History Day, how to get involved locally and the scholarships awarded.