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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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Farm vs. Factory: Citing Evidence

This activity asks students to analyze three primary documents about the experiences of young women who worked in textile factories in New England during the 1830s and 1840s. It provides worksheets to guide and support students in writing a [...]

Lessons in Looking: Imperialism Cartoons

This activity teaches students how to break down different elements of a political cartoon. Students examine how different symbols and images can be combined to convey meaning. Then students analyze a 1902 political cartoon about U.S. expansion [...]

Neighborhood or Slum? Snapshots of Five Points, 1827-1867

In this activity, students look at census records from antebellum Five Points and compare them to depictions of the neighborhood and its residents. Students will evaluate whether observers described Five Points as a neighborhood or slum. The [...]

Two Views of the Slave Ship Brookes

In this activity students compare an eighteenth-century print of a slave ship and a table of data about the voyages of the slave ship to draw facts and make inferences about the transatlantic slave trade. This activity was designed for the [...]

Lessons in Looking: Contraband in Paintings

In this activity students analyze Theodor Kaufmann's 1867 painting On to Liberty. Students practice finding information and making inferences based on the painting by completing a graphic organizer. Then students read a descriptive paragraph of the [...]

Who Freed the Slaves During the Civil War?

In this activity students analyze visual and textual evidence about "contraband" African-American slaves during the Civil War era. They compare the roles of African Americans, the Union military, and the policies of the Republican party in [...]

Immigration Debates in the Era of "Open Gates"

In this activity students analyze a political cartoon, a presidential speech and an anti-immigration pamphlet from the early 20th century. After analyzing the documents, students write about why the United States passed immigration quotas in the [...]

Debating Immigration Restriction: The Ellis Island Era

In this activity, students consider arguments for and against unrestricted immigration during the Ellis Island era. Students analyze political cartoons, letters, newspaper articles, posters, and other sources, noting evidence in the documents to [...]

The Iron Horse vs. the Buffalo: Indian-Settler Conflict on the Great Plains

In this activity, students read a series of primary source documents, including the 1872 print "American Progress," that depict the social, political and cultural conflicts between settlers and Native Americans during the 19th century. Then, working [...]

Propaganda and World War II

In this activity, students compare World War II propaganda posters from the United States, Great Britain, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union. Then students choose one of several creative or analytical writing assignments to demonstrate what they've [...]