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Edited by Ellen G. Harris, 2002.
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This directory highlights the most outstanding educational websites for use by teachers and students of American Studies. The sites assembled represent a vast array of educational materials and make superior use of web technology. They are grouped into the five categories at right.

Comprehensive Sites

American Memory

This Library of Congress site allows users to browse by type of collection (photos, documents, motion pictures, sound recordings) or access collections through an index of distinct exhibits. Exhibits include The Continental Congress, a portrait gallery of American Presidents and First Ladies, The Variety Stage (1870-1920), Early Motion Pictures, a collection of political speeches from World War I and the 1920’s, Jackie Robinson, and an Historic American Building Survey (1933-present). The Learning Page offers extensive resources and specific lesson plans for teachers. Many exhibits include the full text of primary documents such as WPA-era interviews and African American pamphlets; most exhibits include images; some exhibits use audio files.

Big Chalk

This site provides a broad spectrum of educational Internet services to teachers, students, parents, librarians and school administrators in the K-12 educational and public library markets. There's on-line tutoring for students, keyword-searchable lesson plans for teachers, professional resources, and online field trips. The Classroom Radio section provides lesson plans and activities powered by and utilizing NPR broadcasts.


The National Endowment for the Humanities created this gateway to humanitites resources in collaboration with the Council for Great City Schools and MCI. The site provides Subject Guides to Literature and Language Arts, Foreign Language, Art and Culture, and History and Social Studies. Lesson plans, Websites, Teacher's Lounge and Reference Shelf available.


This site was created by Advanced Network & Services, Inc. to encourage teachers and students around the world to utilize computer technology. Particularly impressive is the showcase of websites created by students as part of Thinkquest's annual international competition.

Discovery Online

Discovery's site features an incredible variety of information in the areas including but not limited to History, Technology, Science, Nature, and Exploration. Each topical area includes online exhibits utilizing audio, video and animation, as well as archives of past exhibits, lesson plans, and roundtable discussions with experts in the field. The site is packed with current news links, live cam shots, games, and trips. Visitors can visit the Mir Space Station or explore The Mysterious World Of Mummies. There's something new every day.

 The History Net: Where History Lives on the Web

The National Historical Society sponsors this site, which includes several online exhibits, a searchable article index providing full-text access to articles from American History, book reviews, interactive e-mail forums, and an index of historical events and exhibits from around the world (divided by month). Weekly features focus on topics such as the Black Panthers, Native American basketry, and the California Gold Rush. Special sections of the site spotlight historical figures, eyewitness accounts of major historical events, military history, aviation history, the history of technology, historic homes, and travel.


This ambitious site provides general information on significant places, people, events, and concepts in world history through the use of detailed maps and timelines. The timelines chart significant people and events in history and can comparatively illustrate developments occurring in several civilizations simultaneously. In each of the above cases, events and people in the timelines serve as links to brief explanations of historical significance.

Annenberg/Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) Learner Online                           

This site for educators and students functions as a companion site for CPB programs. In addition to offering lesson plans that accompany CBP programs, the site features an interactive "Journey North" component, which allows students and teachers across the country to participate in the tracking of climate change and wildlife migration in the U.S. Other multimedia exhibits on topics such as Cinema or the Middle Ages incorporate audio and video technology as well as games. The companion site to 'A Biography of America' uses interactive maps and timelines to trace the history of the U.S. from the ancient Anasazi to the present.

New York Times Learning Network

Witness The New York Times as an educational tool and resource for Grades 3-12. Students can read News Summaries, write a Letter To The Editor, Ask A Reporter, or take quizzes. Teachers get daily lesson plans, education news, and resources. Parents are provided Site of the Day, Product Reviews, and Movie Guides. Other features include This Day In History, Web Resources, and Crossword Puzzles.


Topic-Specific Sites

Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project

Historical materials from Abraham Lincoln's Illinois years (1815-1861), including writings and speeches, as well as other materials illuminating Illinois life during Lincoln's time. Searchable Historical Themes include African-American Experience, Law and Society, Native American Relations, Women's Experience and Religion. Biography Section begins with his family's migration to Illinois and traces his rise from local to national politics through the Indian Wars, the Mexican War, to his final political campaign. Search his (and other) related writings, audio files of period songs, and images arranged around the Historic Themes.

Archiving Early America

Dedicated to presenting historical documents from the eighteenth century in a constructive space, this site serves as a resource and as a forum. The site archives documents and maps; it features The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, The Life of Washington and The Adventures of Daniel Boon (sic). Features short films of famous events or people: Molly Pitcher, Paul Revere, and The Shot Heard Around The World. Users may access the Early American Review (with an audio option) and participate in the Town Crier, a forum for discussion among educators, students, historians, researchers and journalists.

 Documenting the American South

This site from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill focuses on the Southern experience in Nineteenth century America. Its major resource is a digitized library of over seventy titles from the beginning of Southern literature to 1920. The documents range in genre from narratives on slavery to diaries and memoirs to autobiographies. The site provides links to other sources for Southern Americana.

Lewis and Clark

This Web companion to the PBS documentary on the journey of the Corps of Discovery provides extensive coverage of the expedition and its conditions, geographical as well as historical and political. The site’s archive includes a searchable edition of the journals; a timeline tracks the journey as well. A Native American Index organizes information on the extant Native populations. The site also features a virtual panel of experts which uses RealAudio, and a video forum with director Burns. Its more interactive component is a game called “Into the Unknown” through which users gain understanding of the daily realities of exploration.

Not For Ourselves Alone

The companion website to the PBS documentary documents the lives of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony and thus, the history of the suffrage movement. Biographies with video and audio elements, historic documents, resources for the classroom, articles, essays and links to other informative sites and readings.

Scribbling Women

Very specifically for those interested in the history and context of women's literature, focusing on and providing literary and historical context for writers like Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Willa Cather, and Louisa May Alcott among others. A project of The Public Media Foundation, Scribbling Women has dramatized selected stories and provides them here in audio. Classroom resources for teaching and learning the rich tradition of American women's literature.

From Revolution to Reconstruction

This collaborative site was originally conceived at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands by students in the Art History, American Studies and History programs. The site is organized through a chronological outline of American history; documents, including letters, speeches, maps, biographies and critical articles, are indexed by year. Presidents, and documents associated with specific presidents, are also listed and linked separately. Ambitious in scope, the site not only serves as a valuable resource for those seeking key American documents, but affords a promising outlook for the possibilities of interdisciplinary cooperation on the Web.

 The Valley of the Shadow

Historian Edward Ayers, in conjunction with the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, has created this site to illuminate the impact of the Civil War on two representative communities. The site compares life in Franklin County, Pennsylvania and Augusta County, Virginia from the 1850’s through Reconstruction. An image map in the site's introduction provides easy navigation through information from an impressive variety of federal, state, and local sources. This includes census data, tax digests, military records, newspapers, church records, slave narratives, slaveholder records, letters, diaries and maps.

 The West

This site is designed to accompany the Ken Burns documentary. Users learn about the West through an interactive timeline, which allows users to jump topically (following the same person/place/movement across large expanses of time); users may also proceed in strict chronological fashion. The site includes biographies of significant people in the Old West, an archive of primary historical documents, interactive maps of trade routes, landmarks and settlements and puzzles and games.

 Windows To The Universe

Earth and Space sciences for the general public (funded by NASA) with Teacher Resources and Kid's Space. Information is provided on Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Levels; facts about planets, surfaces, atmosphere, magnetosphere, the sun, the moon, our planet, any planet, the Solar System, the Universe.... Images, movies, animations and data sets explore the sciences and the historical and cultural ties between science, exploration, and the human experience. The only danger here is getting lost in space.


Course-Specific Sites

 Electronic Poetry Center, University of Buffalo

This site is a rich source of information for anyone studying contemporary poetry. Features an electronic journal of contemporary poetry, an index of links to other online journals, reviews, bibliographies and articles on the teaching of poetry, Linebreak: an archive of audio files with poet interviews and clips of poets reading their own works, links to presses & magazines, an author index with information on more than 100 contemporary poets and critics, individual author pages with images, audio files, and syllabi for those who are currently teaching, selected online works, biographies, lists of publications, and critical bibliographies.

 Crossroads Project at Georgetown University

This site serves as a platform for the American Studies Association, providing a space in which related programs can exist in experimental form. Based at Georgetown, the Crossroads Project tracks American Studies programs across the country and throughout the world. Thus, a component of the site is dedicated to providing users access to the sites of other schools’ programs; schools whose programs significantly utilize the Web are highlighted.

 Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities

The University of Virginia’s IATH houses a collection of hypertext projects, a literary theory discussion group, the Web’s oldest electronic journal of literary criticism, _Postmodern Culture_, and a detailed index of further reading and Web links. The projects hosted by IATH include scholarly efforts in American history, religious studies, literary studies, linguistics, the history of technology, computer technology and urban planning.


Online Atlases

Historical and Cultural Atlas Resource

This site is a compendium of maps and cultural images from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and North America. Some maps use the Shockwave application so that users can obtain different information from pull down menus embedded in the image. This actually alters the face of the image to incorporate information on trade routes, climate and goods produced. Cultural images depict hundreds of artifacts, historical sites, vegetation and architecture. The images come in small and large file sizes to accommodate different machine capacities.

 National Geographic Map Machine

This excellent resource features detailed maps of the continents; users can click on a specific country to call up an atlas entry for that country.


Museum Sites

 The American Museum of Natural History

Features several interesting exhibition related sites: The Butterfly Conservatory, Shackleton's Arctic Expedition, Body Art, Epidemics. Lots of virtual tours and movies: space, volcanoes, a snake eats a mouse. Ology, a web site just for kids, is fun. Best approach is to start with the site map.

 The American Museum of Photography

A virtual museum dedicated to photography's history and development. Exhibits include Spirit Photography 1868-1935, the small world of Cartes de Viste of the 1860s-70s, and a plethora of daguerreotypes. Research center offers a primer on processes, definitions of types of images, information on how to preserve and protect as well as links to other informational sites. Other exhibits feature Architectural Photographs 1845-1915, Masterworks of Photography from Talbot to Adams, with detailed descriptions and historical information, and a pre-Wegman tribute to man and his dog.

 California Museum of Photography

Online exhibits created especially for the Web explore how the use of audio, video, and graphic manipulation can enhance artistic performance and/or exhibition. The site’s projects include essays, photography, and interdisciplinary endeavors. Features include 100 Muybridge motion studies animated for the web, vintage stereographs (red/blue glasses required), Live Imprints: an "Electrograph" exhibit of large scale artworks pieced together from photocopies, and a Digital Studio featuring studio projects and experimental videos.

 The Cleveland Museum of Art

The museum archives past exhibits on the Web, providing images and curatorial labels as well glossaries of photographic and artistic terms, biographies of artists, maps, discussions about different types of art and at-home learning extension activities for several exhibits. The museum also supplies activities for teachers.

Franklin Institute Science Museum

The museum's site houses a library of online articles and journals related to science as well as numerous educational ideas and exhibits created specifically for the Web. Current exhibits include "The Heart: An Online Exploration" which uses text, images, and video files to present the development, structure, systemic relationships, and medical procedures connected with the heart. The museum's exhibit on Benjamin Franklin provides information on Franklin's family tree, his different roles and avocations, a glossary, a timeline, and related people and events. The exhibit "Guide to the Universe" includes astronomical and planetary science facts, a gallery of imaginary planets to explore, a form for submitting stories about the imaginary worlds pictured in the gallery and links out to science fiction on the Web. A "Spotlight" feature, designed for educators, takes existing information from a variety of sites elsewhere on the Web, combines them, and reconceptualizes them into curriculum units and virtual field trips.

 The Guggenheim Museums of New York, Bilbao, Venice and Berlin

Each Guggenheim site is both an archive of and an extension opportunity for past and present exhibits. Exhibits include images, biographies, links to curatorial commentary, and other ancillary materials. Exhibits a la New York: Russian Avant-Garde women artists; Bilbao: The Panza Collection of minimal, conceptual, post-minimal, environmental art; Venice: Anni Albers, textile designer; and Berlin: Jeff Koons.

 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This site holds an abundance of images from many different collections: American paintings and sculpture, the costume institute, musical instruments, Islamic art, Asian art, photographs, the libraries, the cloisters, and many more. Chose from a field of thumbnails, click for the full view and information. It's a candy store of objects.

 Museum of the City of New York (MCNY)

The MCNY site contains archived exhibits of architectural drawings of the 1939 World's Fair in New York and the work of Currier and Ives (including about 80 good quality images), among others. Each week MCNY posts a “bit” of New York history (usually an artwork and curatorial text) and archives the bits at the site. Current virtual exhibitions include The Astor Place Riot, Upper Manhattan in Photographs 1896-1939, and 18th Century Women's Shoes.

 National Gallery

The National Gallery site features a different tour each week; users can access the collection by means of an author, title or subject search as well. Image quality is exceptional, and users have full screen and detail options when viewing the images.

National Museum of American History (NMAH)

The Smithsonian’s NMAH site offers a series of visually superior exhibits. Visitors to The American Presidency exhibit can scroll a historical timeline that features information about each president, with related objects and events as well as resources and activities for teachers and students. Other virtual exhibitions focus on American wine production, American sweatshops, the Star Spangled Banner and... Time.

 National Museum of The American Indian (NMAI)

A Smithsonian site celebrating the diversity and continuity of American Indian cultures featuring exhibits and collections by contemporary Indian artists and thinkers as well as artifacts. NMAI Conexus is companion window to web projects like 'Reservation X', a place where 7 native artists examine the idea of tradition, community, and identity. Indian Humor, Quilting Traditions, Clothing....

 National Portrait Gallery

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery houses more than 7,000 images of heroes and villains, thinkers and doers, conservatives and radicals.... Site features a limited virtual-tour of the Hall of Presidents, Presidential portraits, Wives and biographical information, as well as informative exhibits built around the collection: Native American Portraits, The Seneca Falls Convention and The Amistad Case, all with historical interpretation/information. Great past exhibits include the photos of Cartier-Bresson, Celebrity Caricatures and Breaking Racial Barriers, portraits of outstanding African-Americans from the Harmon collection. A great site for people people.


An interactive museum exploring the history of news and examining the media's coverage of historic and current events. Features Capture The Moment: Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographs (with commentary by the photographers); On The Campaign Trail, exploring the last 100 years of Presidential campaign coverage; Photojournalist of the Month; and The Adventures of Chip Tracer, cyberjournalist extraordinaire.

 The Smithsonian American Art Museum

Exhibits include Helios, an on-line photography center, from the beginning of the lens to the end of landscape; the Director's Choice gallery with audio commentary and interpretation of featured works; the Renwick Gallery of American Crafts where you can browse or search a gargantuan collection of images, thematically bound and digitized: Landscapes, Children, Literary Themes, Animals, Sports, Urban Scenes.... Don't stumble in at 2:00 a.m.