Great History Websites
Following are links to websites that delve deeply into White House history, presidential history, and American history. Over two dozen authoritative resources are included. Click a category to jump ahead or just scroll down to review each one.
White House History
The White House
The official U.S. government White House website features White House history, panoramic tours of rooms, and information about the presidents and first ladies.
The White House Historical Association
The official site for the White House Historical Association; an exemplary site with interesting historical features and great educational outreach features; take some time and thoroughly explore the site.
U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service’s official website for the President’s Park—the public gardens and grounds surrounding the White House; a great site for families, teachers, and tourists planning a visit to Washington D.C.
The following sites address the general topics of the American presidents and the presidency and are listed in alphabetical order. For websites about specific presidents, check out the “Presidential Fact Files.”
The American Presidency Project
The American Presidency Project was established in 1999 as a collaboration between John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Their archives contain 116,694 documents related to the study of the presidency. It also has a wonderful audio archive where young people can listen to presidents from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush.
C-SPAN’s American Presidents website, created for the television series, contains a complete video archive of all American Presidents: Life Portraits programming, plus additional resources.
HarpWeek: Presidential Elections
HarpWeek presents “The Presidential Elections: 1860-1912” as a free, public service to provide an informative and entertaining look at a central aspect of the American democratic system of government: the quadrennial political contest for the nation’s highest office.
The Library of Congress
Frequent requests for presidential portraits inspired the Prints and Photographs Division staff of the Library of Congress to compile this ready reference aid of formal and informal pictures in the division’s custody. The selected images include at least one likeness of each of the presidents and most of the first ladies.
The Miller Center
The Miller Center is a nonpartisan institute that seeks to expand understanding of the presidency, policy, and political history, providing critical insights for the nation’s governance challenges. Its website provides a comprehensive collection of material about the presidents and the history of the presidency, including essays about the presidents’ lives before, during, and after each presidential term. It additionally provides information about first ladies and cabinet officials of each administration. A collection of essays on the President at Work delves into the function, responsibilities, and organization of the modern presidency and traces the history and evolution of presidential duties. The Scripps Library collection provides Presidential recordings, audio history, speeches, and transcripts.
PBS offers 37 hours of streaming documentaries on 10 American presidents in its American Experience history series. It also builds on the enormous collection of research materials developed for the award-winning broadcasts. The site includes a summary page for each chief executive, provides Featured Presidents, an in-depth look at the presidents in the broadcast series line-up, and includes links to presidential sites, a detailed bibliography, collections of primary sources, and more. Of special note is an expanded teacher’s guide for each of the featured presidents which provides instructional activities and suggestions for using the programs in the classroom.
The White House
This official government White House website features factual information for all the presidents (including their official White House portraits) and the first ladies, as well as information about the vice president’s residence, the Eisenhower Executive Office building, Camp David, and Air Force One.
The following sites address the topic of American history from many different perspectives and include invaluable resources. All sites are listed in alphabetical order.
The American Antiquarian Society
The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) is an independent research library founded in 1812 in Worcester, Massachusetts. The library’s collections document the life of America’s people from the Colonial Era through the Civil War and Reconstruction. Collections include books, pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, broadsides, manuscripts, music, graphic arts, and local histories. Their website has many online exhibits related to the study of early American history and culture.
Best of History
Best of History aims to provide quick, convenient, and reliable access to the best history-oriented resources online in a wide range of categories. Best of History contains links to over 1200 history-related websites that have been reviewed for quality, accuracy, and usefulness. Included are links to K-12 history lesson plans, teacher guides, activities, games, quizzes, and more. Sites with engaging educational content and stimulating and useful multimedia technologies are most likely to be included in these pages. However, useful general resources and research-oriented sites have been included as well.
This website was designed and developed to support the teaching of American History in K-12 schools and colleges and is supported by the Department of History and the College of Education at the University of Houston. The materials on this website include a U.S. history textbook; over 400 annotated documents from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, supplemented by primary sources on slavery, Mexican American, Asian American, and Native American history, and U.S. political, social, and legal history; succinct essays on the history of film, ethnicity, private life, and technology; multimedia exhibitions; reference resources that include a database of annotated links, classroom handouts, chronologies, glossaries; an audio archive including speeches and book talks by historians; and a visual archive with hundreds of historical maps and images. The site’s “Ask the HyperHistorian” feature allows users to pose questions to professional historians.
EDSITEment is a partnership among the National Endowment for the Humanities, Verizon Foundation, and the National Trust for the Humanities. It offers a treasure trove for teachers, students, and parents searching for high-quality material on the Internet in the subject areas of literature and language arts, foreign languages, art and culture, and history and social studies.
Be sure to check out EDSITEment’s list of vetted educational websites.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history. The Institute serves teachers, students, scholars, and the general public. The Institute maintains this website to serve as a portal for American history on the Web; to offer high-quality educational material for teachers, students, historians, and the public; and to provide up-to-date information about the Institute’s programs and activities.
An online index to 56 years of Harper’s Weekly providing a continuous record of what happened on a weekly basis from 1857 through 1912. The first segment includes the Civil War Era: 1857-1865. The next two cover Reconstruction: 1866-1871 and 1872-1877. The last six encompass the Gilded Age: 1878-1912. This archive includes illustrations, cartoons, news, literature, and editorials.
History News Network
Journalism is said to be the first draft of history. George Mason University’s History News Network (HNN) features articles and excerpts by historians from both the left and the right.
Internet Modern History Sourcebook
The Internet Modern History Sourcebook (IMHS) is one of a series of history primary sourcebooks. It is intended to serve the needs of teachers and students in college survey courses in modern European history and American history, as well as in modern Western Civilization and World Cultures, and is also of interest to anyone wanting to expand their knowledge of American History.
Be sure to check out the site’s extensive information for teachers and students on how to read and use primary source materials here.
The Library of Congress
The home page of the Library of Congress (loc.gov) provides direct access to thousands of resources devoted to topics and exhibits related to American history. We list a few below:
- The American Memory section has millions of digital items that document American history and culture.
- The teacher resource section has 7 million historical documents, photographs, maps, films, and audio recordings. You will also find lesson plans, activities, features, and teaching tips.
- The This Day in History page contains information and items from the LOC’s American Memory collections.
- Be sure and check out the LOC virtual exhibits!
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
This is an exemplary website that features information and virtual exhibits of contemporary and historic American fine and decorative arts.
The National Archives
The National Archives, the nation’s records keeper, has a fascinating website that highlights valuable historical documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and much more. It also has many important presidential papers, primary source materials, war records, etc.
The National Archives’ Teachers’ Resources is the gateway page for educational resources and activities for teachers and students.
The National Endowment for the Humanities
The home page for the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.
Be sure to check out the NEH’s Picturing America program, an exciting initiative that brings masterpieces of American art into classrooms and libraries nationwide. Through this innovative program, students and citizens will gain a deeper appreciation of our country’s history and character through the study and understanding of its art. Learn more at PicturingAmerica.neh.gov.
The New York Public Library Digital Gallery
An outstanding site, NYPL Digital Gallery provides access to over 600,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of The New York Public Library, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.
The New York Times Learning Network
The New York Times Learning Network is a free service for students in grades 3-12, their teachers and parents. Topics covered include: daily news summaries, current and historical events, “On this day in history” summaries, topical crossword puzzles, lesson plans, conversation starters, and other educational items of interest for students, parents and teachers.
This page is the portal to PBS history programs and educational outreach.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum
Explore the Smithsonian American Art Museum through rich media. Here they post slide shows, podcasts, and other resources that present their historic collection in new and engaging ways.
The Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Your gateway to innovative, standards-based online resources for teaching and learning American history, designed and developed by the National Museum of American History.
The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
This website features virtual exhibits from the National Portrait Gallery featuring historic and contemporary portraits of Americans.
The United States Census Bureau
The U.S. Census Bureau serves as the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy from 1790 forward.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s teaching materials page offers teaching materials and lesson plans.
Weider History Group/HistoryNet
The HistoryNet.com website is brought to you by the Weider History Group, the world’s largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries, and over 1,200 articles originally published in their various magazines, including topics related to American and military history.
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