History of Jim Crow

The Jim Crow laws encompassed every part of American life, from politics to education to sports. This site provides a comprehensive look at the 80-year period of segregation in the U.S.

  • Lesson 3: The Rise and Fall of Joseph McCarthy

    The excesses of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's anti-communist crusade led to his eventual censure by the U.S. Senate

    A freshman senator from Wisconsin, Joseph R. McCarthy, shocked the country in 1950 when he claimed to possess evidence that significant numbers of communists continued to hold positions of influence in the State Department. In this lesson students will learn about McCarthy's crusade against communism, from his bombshell pronouncements in 1950 to his ultimate censure and disgrace in 1954.

  • Lesson 3: The Formation of the Western Alliance, 1948–1949

    When the Soviets blockaded Berlin in 1948, the Western allies initiated an airlift to relieve the besieged city

    In the spring of 1948 Stalin provoked the first serious international crisis of the Cold War by announcing a blockade of West Berlin. This lesson will trace the Berlin blockade and airlift of 1948–49 and the establishment of NATO.

  • Lesson 4: The New Order for "Greater East Asia"

    "At the White House, President Truman Announces Japan's Surrender." Abbie Rowe,  Washington, DC, August 14, 1945.

    For American diplomacy, the war against Japan was not just about the destruction of Japanese supremacy in the Pacific, China, and Southeast Asia. The ultimate issue was just what would replace Japan's imperial design of a "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere." This lesson plan focuses on two major postwar problems—the future of China and (using French Indochina as a test case) the future of Western imperialism in Southeast Asia.

  • Lesson 2: The House Un-American Activities Committee

    Alger Hiss, a State Department official, was accused of spying for the Soviet Union in 1948

    In the late 1940s and early 1950s, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union had deteriorated to the point of "cold war," while domestically the revelation that Soviet spies had infiltrated the U.S. government created a general sense of uneasiness. This lesson will examine the operations of House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the late 1940s.

  • Lesson 2: The Strategy of Containment, 1947–1948

    The Convair B-36 strategic bomber symbolized American military might in the  early days of the Cold War.

    The unwillingness of the Soviet Union to allow the creation of independent and democratic states in Eastern Europe, and the failure of East and West to reach a compromise on Germany, left many Americans puzzled. Why were the Soviets acting as they did? Moreover, how should the United States respond? This lesson will consider containment through the use of original documents, mostly from the Truman Presidential Library. They will study what it meant in theory, and then examine the first two major instances of its application—the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan.

  • The Korean War: “Police Action,” 1950–1953

    U.S. troops storming the beach at Inchon, South Korea, September 15, 1950.

    In 1950, North Korean forces, armed mainly with Soviet weapons, invaded South Korea in an effort to reunite the peninsula under communist rule. This lesson will introduce students to the conflict by having them read the most important administration documents related to it.

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: The Missiles of October

    Created July 15, 2010
    Soviet missile site at Guanajay, Cuba, October, 1962.

    Most historians agree that the world has never come closer to nuclear war than it did during a thirteen-day period in October 1962, after the revelation that the Soviet Union had stationed several medium-range ballistic missiles in Cuba. This lesson will examine how this crisis developed, how the Kennedy administration chose to respond, and how the situation was ultimately resolved.

  • Lesson 1: Soviet Espionage in America

    Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of supplying the Soviet Union with  nuclear bomb secrets, and subsequently executed.

    The hunt for Communists in the United States clearly reached the point of hysteria by the early 1950s, but what is often overlooked is that it had its origins in a very real phenomenon. This lesson will expose students to recently declassified FBI documents and transcripts of the Rosenberg trial. It will encourage them to think seriously about the extent of the Soviet espionage network in America, thus setting the stage for a proper understanding of later hearings by the House Un-American Activities Committee and Joseph McCarthy.

  • Lesson 1: Sources of Discord, 1945–1946

    President Harry S. Truman guided the United States through the early years of  the Cold War.

    The fact that the United States and the Soviet Union successfully cooperated in defeating the Axis Powers did not necessarily mean that the two countries would continue to get along in the postwar world. This lesson will examine the U.S.–Soviet disagreements regarding Germany and Eastern Europe.