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Puerto Rican Identity

Civics and U.S. History courses raise the question: What does it mean to be an American? The case of Puerto Rico is an interesting one because Puerto Ricans find themselves in limbo between American citizenship and Puerto Rican nationalism. The following primary source sets explore the unique relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States including the different factors that influence Puerto Rican identity, including nationalism, political status, culture, and migration. By examining these primary sources, students will gain an understanding of:

Early America: New Worlds for All Indians and Europeans in Early America

When the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Bay, indigenous peoples on the East Coast had been in sustained contact with European explorers and fur traders for over a hundred years. In the 17th century, however, European colonists began to permanently settle in North America. Indigenous communities found ways to adapt their cultural forms to the regular presence of Europeans, building upon knowledge amassed over the last century.

The Fugitive Slave Act: No Turning Back!

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 allowed for the capture and return of runaway slaves. Northerner legislatures passed laws in an attempt to reduce the impact of the FSA and how the work of the Underground Railroad (UGRR) was impacted. Students will learn how the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (FSA) changed perspectives of Northerners and the ultimate destination of the fugitives themselves. Students will learn background knowledge and vocabulary about the Underground Railroad in the United States.

Worlds Collide: First Contact Between Columbus and the Taino

UPDATED WITH NEW RESOURCES - This lesson uses primary sources to explore one of the most remarkable cultural meetings in history: Spanish sponsored Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and the Native Americans from the Taino population in the Caribbean. Two key primary sources in this lesson are a letter from Columbus to the King and Queen of Spain and a 1562 map of European attitudes toward the New World. With guidance from teachers, these documents can spark inquiry from students and encourage increased understanding of the relationship between the Spanish and the Taino. 

Who Writes Our History?

In the following lesson plan, students will look at the way in which events are reported on in history and how bias in the media affects peoples’ understanding of current events and history by analyzing both modern and historical newspaper articles. Throughout this unit, students will read and analyze Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath in relation to migrant workers and explore the conflict between political policy and the humane realities, as well as whether or not civil disobedience is necessary to create societal changes.

Islamic Art, Architecture and Literature

Through the carefully examination of the Emerging America Primary Source Set entitled “Islamic Architecture, Art, and Literature’, students become exposed to the physical manifestations of Islam through inquiry and discussion. Students will learn about Ninian Smart’s Seven Dimension of Religion and grow comfortable using the confines of the Smart’s different elements to make sense of complex religious images and readings.

Incarceration

Incarceration in a variety of contexts and settings has been deeply ingrained in American society for centuries. The experience and processes of incarceration takes many forms including criminal detention, imprisonment in wartime, and immigration detainment. This primary source set contains a range of items tracing the history of incarceration in the United States and includes images, maps, political cartoons, and reports–all from the digital collections of the Library of Congress.

The Effects of Imperialism on the People of Africa and the Americas

The legacy of European colonialism in Africa and Latin America has caused lasting geopolitical effects on both continents. A student of World History can easily see the cause and effect relationships between the division of African and Latin American lands by European powers and the lasting effects of modern conflicts by analyzing the following primary source materials. Featured within the set are recommended secondary sources, classroom activity ideas, and primary source sets produced by the Library of Congress. Materials are divided into two sections: Africa and the Americas.

African American Experience of the Civil War

War has lasting and damaging effects on society. The three obvious areas are political, economical, and social. This primary source set details evidence of the impact that the Civil War had on dividing the North and the South. The sources tell the story of a nation struggling to gain economic and political footing and power in the world, while at times being unaware or naive of the social tear that such an ambitious goal could have on such a young nation.

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