Themes

Find collections of the Museum's top resources on major themes in American history here. Additional resources on these topics may be found by using the search functions of the website.

The Nation We Build Together

Resource Types: Artifacts, Reviewed Websites, Primary Sources, Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted:  5/1/2018

Explore the history of our distinctive American Democracy and how we participate in creating a more perfect union through artifacts, exhibits and teaching resources from the National Museum of American History.

Image: Wooden Ballot Box with Clay Marbles, 1883

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American Experiments

Resource Types: Reference Materials, Primary Sources, Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities, Worksheets
Date Posted:  4/16/2018

Since the founding of the American republic when the power of the nation was entrusted not in a monarchy but in it its citizens, each generation has questioned and considered how to form “a more perfect union.” 

The American Experiments suite of educational games build off of this question by challenging students to think about their roles and responsibilities within their democracy. 

Check out the National Museum of American History's exhibits American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith and Many Voices, One Nation for more content and resources about the nation we build together. 

Image: Eagle Figure

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Protest and Civic Action

Date Posted:  3/22/2018

Explore how Americans have used protest and civic action to affect change and address public issues. 

This image is of a student protest t-shirt made during the Harvard University student anti-war protest and sit-in of the administration building, 1968–1969.

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World War II

Resource Types: Artifacts, Reviewed Websites, Reference Materials, Primary Sources, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted:  2/27/2018

Investigate the events and impacts of World War II with your students using primary resources, museum exhibits and learning activities from the National Museum of American History.

Image: Remember Pearl Harbor Pin

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The Great War

Resource Types: Artifacts, Reference Materials, Primary Sources, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted:  2/27/2018

Investigate the Great War using collections and teaching resources from the National Museum of American History. Check out additional collections objects and content at the museum's WWI hub.

ImageOne of the Thousand Y.M.C.A. Girls in France
 

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Presidential History

Resource Types: Artifacts, Reviewed Websites, Reference Materials, Primary Sources, Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted:  1/2/2018

Investigate American history through the lens of the presidency with your students using lessons, podcasts, activities, and primary sources from the National Museum of American History.

Image: Declaration of Independence Desk

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Hispanic Heritage Month

Resource Types: Reviewed Websites, Primary Sources, Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted:  10/6/2016

Explore Hispanic Heritage Month with your students using lessons, podcasts, activities, and primary sources. This image is of Cesar Chavez's Union Jacket from the collections.

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Teaching with Drama

Date Posted:  6/7/2016

Meet historical characters in these videos of museum theater performances.

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Agriculture History

Resource Types: Artifacts, Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted:  5/27/2016

Find resources on farming and agriculture history here.

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Politics and Voting

Date Posted:  2/23/2016

Explore politics and voting with your students this election year.

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American Revolution

Resource Types: Reference Materials, Primary Sources, Interactives & Media
Date Posted:  10/20/2014

Explore family life in the American Revolution, debate the legacy of Benedict Arnold and more with these activities on the War of Independence.

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Civil Rights Movement

Resource Types: Primary Sources, Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted:  3/12/2014

Explore the Woolworth's lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, the Freedom Rides, and other events of the civil rights movement through lessons, videos, and activities.

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National History Day

Resource Types: Reference Materials, Primary Sources, Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted:  10/4/2013

These resources are designed to help you with National History Day. Be sure to check out these websites, too, for great primary sources: Galaxy of Images from Smithsonian Libraries; Learning Lab from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access; Smithsonian Collections Search Center (select "search" then "only return results only with online media")

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STEM Resources

Resource Types: Reference Materials, Primary Sources, Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted:  8/7/2013

Explore the science in history and find science, technology, and math-integrated resources with this STEM-theme.

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Immigration

Resource Types: Primary Sources, Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities
Date Posted:  8/3/2012

Examine immigration history from the 19th through the mid-20th century with an emphasis on the journeys of immigrants from Asia and Latin America to the American west and southwest.

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Westward Expansion

Resource Types: Primary Sources, Lessons & Activities, Worksheets
Date Posted:  8/3/2012

Create a virtual exhibit around the nugget that started the gold rush, follow one man's journey to California in 1849, build a sodhouse and more with these lessons and interactives on westward expansion.

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Want to suggest a different theme topic?

Visit the Contact us page to request a theme that would help you in your classroom.