Few geo-political events have resonated through the past 70 years like Neville Chamberlain?s decision to pursue the policy of appeasement in reaction to German aggression leading up to the Second World War. Leaders throughout the world have invoked appeasement to justify military action ever since. The decisions that went into Chamberlain?s policy, however, were far from straightforward. Historians have continually debated and reinterpreted these events. In this lesson, students address the issue of appeasement and explore and weigh evidence against and in favor of the policy.
On March 1, 1896, a massive Ethiopian army routed Italian forces at the Battle of Adwa. The battle marked the largest military triumph of an African state over a European army in the 19th century and helped Ethiopia retain its independence during Europe's "scramble for Africa." In this lesson students read three different textbook accounts of the battle - two American and one Ethiopian - to investigate the question: How did Ethiopia defeat Italy at the Battle of Adwa?
The Battle of the Somme was a definitive campaign of the First World War. Unprecedented casualties resulted from intense trench warfare and new military technologies. In this lesson, students analyze and compare three different accounts of the battle?s first day -- one from a British journalist who paints a rosy picture of the Allied offensive and two from combatants that provide starkly different portraits of the event.
Caesar Augustus was arguably the most important Roman Emperor, restoring the empire and overseeing a period of relative peace, prosperity, and expansion. Historians have noted the apparent contradictions of August, who could be at once ruthless and forgiving, rash and calculating. In this lesson, students corroborate evidence and arguments from a set of primary and secondary sources as they investigate the question: What kind of leader was Augustus?
In August 1966, Mao Tse-Tung launched the Cultural Revolution. He encouraged the creation of ?Red Guards? to punish party members and others who were harboring counter-revolutionary tendencies. In the decade that followed, China was turned upside down as millions of Chinese youth attacked traditional standard bearers of power and authority ? among them party leaders, teachers, and family members. This lesson explores the motivations of Chinese youth in participating in the Cultural Revolution. Through a series of primary documents, students consider what it may have been like to experience this tumultuous period of Chinese history.
The past is often neatly partitioned in time periods and eras with generalized names meant to characterize what life was like during that time. In this multi-day lesson, students question the validity of using ?Dark Ages? to describe Europe from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance. In the process, students examine a variety of primary and secondary sources highlighting different social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental facets of life in Europe during this period.
What can passenger lists from ships arriving in North American colonies tell us about those who immigrated? And what can those characteristics tell us about life in the colonies themselves? In this lesson, students critically examine the passenger lists of ships headed to New England and Virginia to better understand English colonial life in the 1630s.
How do you make sense of contrasting accounts of historical events? What makes one source more reliable than another? How does corroborating information across sources help confirm or discredit historical accounts? In this lesson, students engage in such questions as they evaluate and compare different types of primary source documents with different perspectives on working conditions in English textile factories at the beginning of the 19th century.
In 1095, Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade, calling forth knights and peasants from across Western Europe to march against Muslim Turks in the Byzantine Empire and ultimately ?re-conquer? the holy city of Jerusalem. In this lesson, students compare Christian and Muslim perspectives of the First Crusade by analyzing different accounts of the siege of Jerusalem.
George Whitefield was one of the most influential preachers in Britain and North America in the 18th century and an important figure in the First Great Awakening. In this lesson, students will critically examine three historical documents to answer the question: Why was Whitefield so popular? In doing so, they will practice key aspects of historical thinking.
The decision to partition India into two countries as part of its independence from Britain in August 1947 had dramatic consequences. The creation of Pakistan as a Muslim state and newly independent India as a Hindu state set off waves of displacement, migration, and violence. In this lesson, students attempt to enter the mindset of leaders in 1947 and use primary sources to evaluate the Partition Plan.
The atrocities committed by the Japanese in China during the 1930s are well documented. Various Japanese textbooks, however, have downplayed or overlooked the scale and scope of these events. In this lesson, students examine how two textbooks ? one Japanese and the other Chinese ? depict what happened during the Japanese occupation of Nanking. Students then corroborate each textbook with an excerpt from historian Jonathan Spence?s The Search for Modern China.
In the 1800s Irish immigrants to the United States faced intense discrimination. The treatment of the Irish raises the historical question of whether the Irish were considered "white" in the 19th century. In this lesson, students examine political cartoons, a Know-Nothing party speech, and a historian's account to consider how racial categories may be ambiguous and change over time.
In this lesson, students will use a timeline and analysis of historical documents to learn more about the Louisiana Purchase and discuss why Federalists had issue with the purchase.
Historical maps provide insight into how people in the past understood the world around them. In this lesson, students study two 17th-century maps of Virginia and think critically about how the differences in the maps reveal insights into how the English perspective on land and relations with Native Americans changed over time.
The writings of Martin Luther helped spur the Reformation and inspired the rise of Protestantism in the 16th century. Luther gave different reasons for his break from the Catholic Church at different times in his life. This lesson features two sources attributed to Luther - an excerpt from the letter he wrote that accompanied what came to be his 95 Theses and part of a talk he gave later in life. Students compare the documents and consider how to weigh contrasting accounts of history written by the same person.
On March 12, 1938, the German army moved into Austria to annex the country. To justify the annexation, Hitler called for a public vote on whether the unification should stand. On April 10, 1938, Germans and Austrians voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Anschluss. In this lesson students analyze and compare three different forms of propaganda that influenced the vote ? a speech delivered by Hitler, a campaign poster, and a voting ballot.
The Committee of Public Safety's assumption of political power and rule between 1793 and 1794 marked what was arguably the most radical phase of the French Revolution. The Committee justified its excesses as necessary to protect against domestic and foreign counter-revolutionaries. In this lesson, students question the motives of the Committee through analyzing excerpts from the "Decree Against Profiteers" and "Law of Suspects."