Featured Online Exhibits from NARA

The National Archives features a number of online exhibits on their web site. We’ve previously profiled two of these exhibits on AHA Today: Discovering the Civil War at the National Archives and The Deadly Virus featured in the blog post The Great Pandemic.

Read on to discover three other online exhibits from the National Archives:

Documented Rights
NARA Exhibit - Documented RightsPulling and pooling primary sources from around the country, this exhibit tells the story of the evolution of civil rights and the struggle for equality in America. The site includes five sections, each complete with an archive of primary sources:

  1. Let My People Go, documenting African American slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  2. Broke at Last, detailing the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865; the 14th Amendment, which defined citizenship in 1868; and the 15th Amendment, which protected voting rights in 1870.
  3. This Land is Your Land, tracing the assimilation of immigrants into the American society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  4. A Change is Gonna Come, explaining the ways in which the U.S. “reconsidered how it defined personal freedoms and equality under the law” following World War II.
  5. We Shall Overcome, remembering the court decisions against segregated schools, notably Brown v. Board of Education.

Also available on the site are teaching resources, which include a lesson plan that parallels the Documented Rights exhibit; guiding questions that apply to each of the five sections; student activities that promote interactivity and engagement; vocabulary lists that pull terms from the sections; and national standards that correspond to each lesson.

Every Four Years
NARA - Every Four YearsBecause technology has brought politics into living rooms across the country over the years, this exhibit focuses specifically on presidential elections from the past 80 years. The site breaks down the lessons surrounding presidential elections into the following six categories, once more teaching through primary sources and, in this case, artifacts too: The Power of the Presidency, Party Conventions, Political Campaigning, Marketing the Candidates, Election Day, and Inaugurating the President.

Be sure to explore the 1948 Election Campaign, which features documents, photographs, and other resources like oral histories, speeches, and artifacts that all relate to the campaign. Teachers may also find the site’s three thematic lesson plans of interest:

  1. Analyzing a Political Comic Book Prepared for the 1948 Campaign, which explores Truman’s life through a 16-page comic book meant “to enhance communication arts, fine arts or social studies lessons.”
  2. The Road to the Presidency, which encourages students to investigate what skills an aspiring president needs in order to make it to the White House, references resources such as constitutional requirements, A Presidential Exploration; The American President from PBS; and Six Months in the Life of President Harry S. Truman, the latter of which consists of journal-like entries researched by other students that document Truman’s campaign activities from September 1948 through February 1949.
  3. The 1948 Whistle Stop Tour, which teaches geography using Truman’s route across America during his presidential campaign.

Running for Office
NARA - Running For OfficeMimicking a book, this site commemorates the political cartoonist, Clifford K. Berryman, who captured presidential campaigns from the first part of the 20th century. “Political cartoons,” the site explains, “are unlike any other form of political commentary. Visual in nature, cartoons show altered physical traits and highlight minute details to make a specific point. With simple pen strokes, they foreshadow the future, poke fun at the past, and imply hidden motives in ways that elude written or spoken reporting. The result of this creative license is a unique historical perspective—entertaining, clever, and insightful.”

Because the site is designed to mirror that of a book, you can either peruse each section individually or refer to the table of contents on the first page, which breaks down the content into themes like The Campaign, The Homestretch, and The Voter. You can also learn how original drawings were reproduced into newspapers, as well as download and print the cartoons under the right-hand box entitled Extras! on the site’s homepage.

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