Educators Blog

From Here at HSP, to At Home and In The Classroom: Learning the Civil War

Monday, 11/18/13

Come down to the Society anytime between now and the end of this year (see our opening hours) to view our current commemorative document display for the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. Opening on November 19th, it specifically marks the anniversary of Lincoln’s address at the Gettysburg battlefield in central Pennsylvania.  The same day we are launching a new section to the Educator portal full of resources for teaching about the Civil War.

The “Commemorating the Civil War” exhibit will give you and your students a chance to consider contemporaneous pamphlets, souvenirs, officially written documents, maps and photographs, which all tell of the life and times of veterans of our Civil War from the 1863 Gettysburg address through the 1938 75th year veteran reunion of the battle at Gettysburg. 

The American Civil War, is a particularly intriguing topic to teach your students due to its significance in national political history, and moreover its role in the revolution of this nation’s cultural and social fabric. The major discussion topics brought up with teaching the American Civil War are an integral part of coming to know the history of our national identity. Learning the causes and effects of the Civil War is an opportunity for your students to relate their understanding of historical conflict to their cultural, social and even personal conflicts as political citizens. 

Research the HSP digital library and online subject guides to find helpful resources. Give your students an idea of what they are able to do with the right research: find family history through military and other records, material covering Philadelphia participation and politics in the war, as well as sources for particular areas of interest such as African American and women’s contributions.

Check out a couple of our lesson plans on the Civil War, now easily searchable from the new page Teaching the Civil War. One plan provides guidance and resources for you and your students to come to know Pennsylvania and Philadelphia history in terms of the overall political outcome and impact of the Civil War. This lesson plan will help bring historical literacy and context analysis competencies to your classroom. Don’t have time to incorporate the whole lesson plan into your curriculum? Check it out anyway for some small or big ideas! Also, have your students practice text contextualization and concept relation using a few of these primary resources:

Refer to this lesson plan is a specific map study of the battle at Gettysburg, which utilizes topography to teach students the relevance of geographic analysis. In conjunction to describing and learning the political and social influences that lead to the Civil War and battles therein, a geographical context helps students see the physical and spatial explanations for wartime situations.

For other ideas and options, such as studying the role of women in the Civil War, the antebellum society regarding the free black community in Philadelphia, and postbellum sports and race relations, browse through our Unit Plans.

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