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Education

Discover dynamic education programs and curriculum resources about the history of our city, state, and nation.

Education Mission

The New-York Historical Society Education Division provides dynamic programming and curriculum resources for students and teachers in New York and beyond. Historical study sparks curiosity and creativity, promotes cultural understanding, and fosters an empowered citizenry to strengthen our democracy. Our staff of passionate professionals draws on our world-renowned collections to engage learners of all ages in the study of our collective past.

 

Education programs made possible through endowments established by:
National Endowment for the Humanities
The Hearst Foundations
The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation

Public funding provided by:
Institute for Museum and Library Services
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council
New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature

Important support provided by:
Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Ford Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Altman Foundation
Deutsche Bank
The Pinkerton Foundation
Barker Welfare Foundation
The Keith Haring Foundation
The Bay and Paul Foundations
The Alice Lawrence Foundation
The Henry Nias Foundation
Fred and Joan Pittman
Anonymous

 

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Help us present groundbreaking exhibitions and develop educational programs about our nation's history for more than 200,000 schoolchildren annually.

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Explore all the New-York Historical Society-created curriculum materials, which align with New York State Learning Standards and contain lesson plans and primary sources (documents, photos, maps and more). Materials are available digitally and/or for purchase in hard copy, as indicated in the list below.

Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow

These materials, produced in connection with the 2018 exhibition Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, explore the contested efforts toward full citizenship and racial equality for African Americans that transpired in the fifty years after the Civil War. The period between the end of slavery in 1865 and the end of World War I in 1919 saw African Americans champion their rights as the “separate but equal” age of Jim Crow began. Examining both the activism for and opposition to black citizenship rights, the works of art, political cartoons, photographs, documents, primary accounts, and timelines in this curriculum underscore how ideas of freedom and citizenship were redefined by government and citizen action, and challenged by legal discrimination and violence.

TOPICS: Reconstruction, Jim Crow, citizenship rights, voting rights, segregation, lynching, sharecropping, disenfranchisement, exodusters, racial stereotypes, Lost Cause mythology, Confederate monuments, white supremacy, black activism, the NAACP, the Great Migration, military service

STRUCTURE: three units—Reconstruction, 1865-1877; The Rise of Jim Crow, 1877-1900; and Challenging Jim Crow, 1900-1919

Click here to download the curriculum.

 

WAMS: The New Republic and Early Reformers, 1790-1860

The first installment of Women and the American Story (WAMS)

Saving Washington: The New Republic and Early Reformers, 1790-1860 examines women’s roles in the early American republic, focusing on the ways that elite and non-elite women sought to define and influence what the new nation would become.

TOPICS: women’s roles in the early American republic, informal politics, domesticity, reform movements, female agency

STRUCTURE: two modules; Unofficial Politician: Dolley Madison in Washington and Breaking the Rules: Women Reformers, 1800-1860

Click here to visit the curriculum website.

* This curriculum is part of the planned nine-unit Women and the American Story, a U.S. history survey curriculum that draws on the resources of our Center for Women’s History. When complete, the project will span the full scope of U.S. history, connecting teachers and their students to a trove of resources that highlight women’s roles in the nation’s story.  We hope that you incorporate these materials into your lessons. If you do, please fill out this short feedback form to let us know how it goes. 

 

New World - New Netherland - New York

New World – New Netherland – New York explores the interactions between New York’s Native American and earliest Dutch, African, and British inhabitants.

TOPICS: Age of Discovery, New Netherland, New Amsterdam, , the British colonial period, the Munsee, slavery, indentured labor, colonial administration

STRUCTURE: three units; New World, New Netherland, and New York

Click here to download the curriculum.

 

AIDS in New York: The First Five Years

AIDS in New York: The First Five Years, produced in conjunction with the 2013 exhibition of the same name, examines the AIDS epidemic from 1980 to 1985 and explores the fear and hysteria that followed the AIDS outbreak.

TOPICS: HIV/AIDS, treatment, medical research, societal response to the outbreak in New York, fear and frustration felt by those affected, support networks

STRUCTURE: online exhibition with four sections; Science & AIDS, Sights & Sounds, Timeline, and Resources

Click here to visit the exhibition website.

 

Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America

Alexander Hamilton was a statesman and visionary, whose worldview and lasting impact were explored in the 2004-2005 exhibition Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America.  

TOPICS: Hamilton’s early life, military, legal, and political career; role as Treasury Secretary; the New Nation; Hamilton in New York and New Jersey

STRUCTURE: an exhibition website with eight sections—About the Exhibition, Exhibition Virtual Tour, Hamilton’s NYC & NJ, Document Database, Hamilton Log, Document Viewer, Timeline, Gallery of Peers

Click here to view online exhibition.

 

The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution

These curriculum materials are adapted from the 2013 exhibition celebrating the Armory Show’s centennial. They consider the modern artworks that forever changed the way Americans thought about art within the framework of the Progressive Era, exploring their reception by and influence upon New York society.

TOPICS: Modernism in New York, American realism, the Ashcan School, Cubism, Marcel Duchamp, Expressionism, Progressivism, early 20th-century social movements

STRUCTURE: five units—Observing the Urban American Scene; The Spirit of Modernism: A New Way of Looking; The Spirit of the Painting: Expressive Use of Color, Line, and Shape; Modernism in New York, 1913; and Armory Art in the Social Studies Classroom

Click here to download the curriculum materials.

 

The Battle of Brooklyn

The Battle of Brooklyn curriculum, based on the 2016 exhibition, considers the largest single battle of the Revolutionary War. Introducing the pivotal events and players of 1776 New York, the buildup of troops, the battle itself, and the consequences of defeat, the curriculum illuminates the stakes of the American Revolution.

TOPICS: New York’s significance in the Thirteen Colonies, the arrival of the British navy, Patriots and Loyalists, war preparations, George Washington’s early strategy, the Great Fire of 1776, Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis, prison ships

STRUCTURE: three units; The Gathering Storm, The Battle of Brooklyn, and After the Battle


Click here to download the curriculum.

 

Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion

What does it means to be an American? Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion, based on the 2014-2015 exhibition, explores this question as it chronicles the long and complex history of Chinese Americans in the United States, from the new nation through the 21st century.

TOPICS: trade, immigration, Ellis Island, Angel Island, American identity, westward expansion, racism and nativism, labor, the importance of work and workers

STRUCTURE: three units; The “Chinese Question,” 1784-1882; The Exclusion Period, 1882-1943; and A Journey of Unforgetting

Click here to download the curriculum.

 

 

The DiMenna Children's History Museum

This curriculum, produced in 2011 with the grand opening of the DiMenna Children's History Museum, presents how history is studied and explores figures from America’s past—as children and adults.

TOPICS: using evidence to study history, Dutch colonial families, Cornelia van Varick, George Washington, early American politics, Alexander Hamilton, the development of the U.S. financial system, James McCune Smith, medicine, abolitionism, Esteban Bellán, baseball, the Newsies, Orphan Train Riders, child labor, social programs for children   

STRUCTURE: nine lessons in which students explore how historians work to analyze evidence and learn about a variety of peoples, eras, and events in New York and American history

Click here to download the curriculum

 

Examination Days: The New York African Free School Collection

These materials, drawn from the New-York Historical Society’s New York African Free School Collection, explore the experiences of African American children in early-nineteenth-century New York. In 1787, at a time when slavery was crucial to the prosperity and expansion of New York, this school was created by the New York Manumission Society to educate black children.

TOPICS: The New York African Free School, education, abolitionism, the New York Manumission Society, slavery, James McCune Smith, antebellum New York

STRUCTURE: an online collection that preserves student work and community commentary about the school from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and provides lesson plans that interrogate primary sources

Click here for curriculum materials.

 

Grant and Lee in War and Peace

Grant and Lee in War and Peace uses materials from the 2008-2009 exhibition to shed light on 19th century events that defined a nation. From the conflicts and rivalries of a fast-growing young republic to the fitful efforts at reconstruction after a terrible Civil War, this curriculum traces the lives of Grant and Lee to explore not only these two compelling figures, but also the forces that have shaped America and continue to resound today.

TOPICS: Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, West Point, the Mexican American War, westward expansion, the Civil War, Appomattox, Reconstruction, Lost Cause mythology

STRUCTURE: four units that trace the lives and careers of Grant and Lee—West Point, The Mexican American War, Appomattox, and Reconstruction and the Lost Cause

Click here to download the curriculum materials.

 

Nation at the Crossroads: The Great New York Debate Over the Constitution

Nation at the Crossroads: The Great New York Debate Over the Constitution presents materials from the 2008 exhibition documenting the lively and dramatic debate over the ratification of the Constitution in New York State. Embedded in this debate was the persistent question of slavery, as well as critical issues of government and rights that are still relevant today.

TOPICS: the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, Federalists, Antifederalists, 1788 Convention, ratification and celebration, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, George Clinton

STRUCTURE: An exhibition website that explores the debate over the U.S. Constitution in five sections; Prelude, Debate, Elections, Convention, and Epilogue

Click here to visit the exhibition website.

Lincoln in New York

Based on the 2009-2010 exhibition Lincoln and New York, this curriculum traces the evolution of Lincoln’s formative relationship with the nation’s largest and wealthiest city and state.

TOPICS: Abraham Lincoln as a leader, writer, symbol of Union and freedom, and national martyr; Matthew Brady; Frederick Douglass; New York during the Civil War; habeas corpus and the challenge to civil liberties in wartime; the Emancipation Proclamation; Lincoln’s evolving stance on slavery issues, assassination

STRUCTURE: four lessons that explore Lincoln’s image and career alongside an analysis of New York’s role in the Union; Picturing Lincoln, Lincoln for President, A Week in Lincoln’s Presidency, and Lincoln’s Legacy  

Click here to download the curriculum materials.

 

New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War

The 2006-2007 exhibition New York Divided explored the city’s history with southern slavery. While slavery ended in New York State in 1827, the city remained connected to enslaved labor through expanding trade in southern cotton and sugar. These curriculum materials explore the turbulent half-century of the city’s history with southern slavery.

TOPICS: cotton and sugar trade, pro-slavery politics, the anti-slavery movement, New York Manumission Society, fugitive slave laws and slavecatching, the Emancipation Proclamation, New York City Draft Riots, enlistment in the Union Army

STRUCTURE: three thematic units that trace New Yorkers’ stances on slavery and involvement in the Civil War; The Pro-Southern City of New York, Black Vigilance, and Who Will Fight the War?

Click here to download the curriculum.

 

Nueva York: 1613–1945

Nueva York: 1613-1945 highlights important themes and moments in the relationship between the United States and the Spanish-speaking world.  Taken from the 2010-2011 Historical Society exhibition—organized in collaboration with El Museo del Barrio—these materials explore the vital role the Spanish-speaking world played and continues to play in New York City’s trade, politics, and culture.

TOPICS: colonial rivalries, New York’s trading port,  the sugar trade, slavery, cultural exchange, Cuba, the Spanish-American War, the Spanish Civil War, Puerto Rico, early Puerto Rican migration, Frederic Edwin Church’s Cayambe

STRUCTURE: four thematic units—Trade Ties; Cultural Interactions; War, Revolution, and New York; and Sketching and Painting Inspired by Frederic Edwin Church’s Cayambe

Click here to download the curriculum

 

Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn

Revolution! explores the enormous transformations in the world’s politics that took place from 1763-1815, with particular attention to three globally influential revolutions in America, France, and Haiti. Using materials from the 2011-2012 exhibition, these materials explore how freedom, equality, and the sovereignty of the people became universal goals. Activists in these conflicts invented the notions of human rights that still fire the desire for justice everywhere.

TOPICS: Age of Revolution, liberty, the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, sugar trade, slavery, British abolitionism, immigration  

STRUCTURE: four units; Liberty and Equality, Forging National Identity—The Haitian Revolution, Abolition, and Legacies of the Revolution

Click here to download the curriculum.

 

Seneca Village

Seneca Village was Manhattan’s first significant community of African American property owners. The village was razed for the construction of Central Park and its history has been largely forgotten. This curriculum guide provides primary source documents to help students uncover the story of this 19th century village of free blacks and Irish and German immigrants.

TOPICS: African-American and Irish-American New Yorkers, 19th century New York neighborhoods, Five Points, Central Park, using primary sources

STRUCTURE: seven parts that introduce students to the origins of Seneca Village and African American New Yorkers, and highlight different types of primary sources that can be used to study Seneca Village—newspapers, government and legal records, manuscripts and church records, prints and photographs, and maps

Click here to download the curriculum.

 

Silicon City: Computer History Made in New York

This curriculum is drawn from the 2015-2016 exhibition Silicon City: Computer History Made in New York. It highlights the role New York played as a hub for imagining, developing, and selling the technology that ultimately reshaped our world. Tracing the history of this technological revolution, these materials explore more than a century of stories from many sectors of the tech industry, revealing how pioneering individuals made New York the epicenter of the transformation of computers from laboratory tools to consumer products. 

TOPICS: early computers, robotics, women programmers, the transatlantic telephone, the 1964 World’s Fair

STRUCTURE: eleven primary and secondary images/texts, and five life stories that explore key themes and individuals in New York’s computer history

Click here to view the curriculum.

Slavery in New York

New York was the capital of American slavery for more than two centuries. This curriculum—based upon materials from the 2005 Slavery in New York exhibition—explores slavery in New York from the 1600s to 1827, focusing on the rediscovery of the collective and personal experiences of Africans and African Americans in New York City.

TOPICS: the African Burial Ground, attitudes towards slavery in early New York, laws that governed enslaved and free black people, jobs performed by enslaved peoples, resistance of slavery and enslavement, profiles of black New Yorkers during slavery and emancipation

STRUCTURE: a teacher’s guide with three sections; facts and background information, life stories, and seven lesson plans—Memories of Africa, Work and Everyday Life, Resistance, Freedom, Naming Rights, Writing Lives, and Reading The Gazette

Click here to download the curriculum.

 

Vergara’s Harlem

This curriculum website, created in conjunction with the 2009 Exhibition, introduces the life and work of Camilo José Vergara. Photographing urban communities in American cities, Vergara creates a visual portrait of urban decline and renewal over a span of 40 years, sharing a unique perspective on our relationship to the built environment.

TOPICS: connecting an individual’s personal story and how that story can shape and influence one’s life work, urban development, the history of Harlem, photographs as a primary source, charting change with visual inquiry, how photographs can tell community stories

STRUCTURE: a curriculum website with nine lessons that explore Harlem as a changing community and photographs as primary sources that can serve as windows into communities and chart change over time

Click here to explore the curriculum website.

 

 

The Vietnam War: 1945-1975 Curriculum

In conjunction with our exhibition, this curriculum considers one of the major turning points—and most controversial events—of the 20th century: the Vietnam War. Spanning the duration of U.S. involvement in the region, The Vietnam War: 1945-1975 examines the perspectives and experiences of those on the war front and the home front to facilitate understanding of one of the most complex chapters in American history.

TOPICS: Vietnamese independence struggles, the Cold War, the draft, military campaigns, the growth of the antiwar movement, the role of the president, and the loss of political consensus

STRUCTURE: eight clusters that focus on important themes and topics from the exhibition, using a chronological and thematic approach

Click here to download the curriculum.
Click here to listen to oral histories.
Click here to visit the exhibition webpage.

 

WWII & NYC

WWII & NYC, based on the 2012-2013 exhibition, explores the critical role that the metropolis played in the national war effort and how the conflict forever changed the cosmopolitan, heavily immigrant city.

TOPICS: immigration, Nazism and Fascism in New York, FDR, service, women’s participation in the war effort, children during WWII, African Americans’ participation in and engagement with the war, defense, the Port of New York

STRUCTURE: ten thematic units—Nazis and Fascists in New York, Isolation and Intervention, Pearl Harbor Echoes in New York, New Yorkers Who Served, On the Town, Women in Wartime New York, Children and Teens in Wartime New York, African Americans in Wartime New York, Peril and Defense on the Home Front, and The Port of New York

Click here to visit the exhibition website.

 

Creative: Tronvig Group