How do primary sources strengthen understanding of the roles and experiences of racial and ethnic groups in U.S. history?
First edition. August 2022.

This collection of twelve lessons adapted from the Choices Program’s U.S. History Series provides teachers with stand-alone activities that can be used in an ethnic studies course. The lessons are arranged chronologically and can help students explore groups that played vital roles, but that are sometimes underrepresented, in U.S. history. The lessons can be used to help broaden students’ perspectives of historical and contemporary experiences of ethnic and racial groups in the United States. Each lesson contains sources presented from the perspectives of different ethnic and racial groups. 

The lessons are provided as a guide and vary in length and difficulty. Each lesson can be completed in one or more periods and most include videos that feature leading experts. Choices Program encourages teachers to adapt them to the needs of their students.

Preview this collection. Preview includes the Table of Contents and one lesson plan.

LESSONS

Interpreting a Native Map

Students interpret an eighteenth-century Catawba map and consider the perspective of the Native mapmaker about relations with the colonists.

The Geography of Expansion and Dispossession

Students identify geographical landmarks in the eastern third of the United States and examine U.S. government documents as well as statements by Native people about land treaties from the 1780s.

“Invisible” Churches

Using excerpts from first-person narratives of enslaved people, students learn about “invisible” churches and understand their role in Black people’s resistance to slavery.

Legend as an Historical Source

In this lesson, students examine a Kiowa legend about smallpox and develop an understanding of its value as a historical source.

Letters from Black Soldiers and Their Families

Students closely analyze the language and craft of letters by Black soldiers and consider their experiences and key role in the Union Army.

Native Hawaiian Resistance to Annexation

Students analyze different types of primary sources to deepen their understanding of Native Hawaiians’ resistance to U.S. annexation.

Immigrant Experiences in U.S. History

Using a selection of diverse first person immigrant accounts, students learn about and compare the motivations and challenges involved in the process of immigration.

Puerto Rico’s Political Status and the Legacies of Colonialism

Students explore the more than 120-year-long colonial relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico and examine historical and contemporary Puerto Rican calls for change to their colonial status.

Documenting Life in the Camps: The Watercolors of Kango Takamura

After analyzing an incarceree’s watercolors depicting camp life for Japanese Americans, students consider the benefits and limitations of analyzing art as a primary source.

Women's Experiences in SNCC

Students use primary sources to understand the experiences and contributions of Black women SNCC organizers in Mississippi.

Cuban American Experiences

Using excerpts of Cuban American memoirs, students present perspectives representing a wide array of Cuban American experiences and points of view.

#StopAAPIHate and the Importance of Difficult Histories

Students consider why it is important to study “difficult histories” as they examine primary and secondary sources that reveal the long history of anti-AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) racism in the United States.

MATERIALS
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