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Closer Readings Post

“I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation—a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here. They spoke quietly of how…

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It is ironic to talk about leadership when we discuss World War I. Almost all historians agree that the war was caused by either weak or reckless leadership on the part of the leaders of the…

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"As things turned out, Thoreau, very likely without knowing what he was up to, took man's relation to Nature and man's dilemma in society and man's capacity for elevating his spirit and he beat…

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In recent years, as primary sources become more central to teaching American history, students have been asked to analyze these documents for their historical and literary significance. Among the…

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Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time." —E.P. Whipple

"There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this…

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“I see America, not in the setting sun of a black night of despair ahead of us, I see America in the crimson light of a rising sun. . . . I see great days ahead, great days possible to men and…

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National History Day, held every year in June at the University of Maryland College Park, is an outstanding opportunity for students to engage in a serious academic competition in the humanities…

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In the heart of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park lies an area of streets paved with sett stones—a brick-shaped version of cobblestones dating back to the 1800s. Now under the…

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On the last Monday in May the nation celebrates Memorial Day. It is, of course, a day off from school and work and the unofficial beginning of the summer. There are cookouts, picnics, and always a…

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“I want people to talk to one another no matter what their difference of opinion might be.”—Studs Terkel

No one captured oral history like Studs Terkel. He was a one-of-a-kind radio show…

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When most people think of the civil rights movement, they think of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 and his acceptance…

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“While every creature rejoices at the rebirth of the greenery,
I love the sweet and gentle season when the world is green once more,
for I am cheerful and happy in the joy of the fresh…

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Walt Whitman may well have been describing his own vocation when he articulated his belief that literature could be a unifying force for the nation as it began its long road to healing from the…

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Few Americans understand why the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, nearly three years after Europe and most of the rest of the world were engulfed in the carnage of the Great…

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Quilts provide an invaluable record of a particular place and time. Throughout our nation’s history, women and sometimes men have used the art of quilting for diverse purposes: to keep warm, to…

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So many of our students arrive with a negative impression of the discipline of history. They have come to the conclusion that the study of history is about memorizing a ton of dull facts. Why…

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Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) was created by the National Museum of American History back in 2002 to celebrate the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz. Each year the museum picks a major…

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“My poems—I should suppose everybody's poems—are all set to trip the reader head foremost into the boundless. Ever since infancy I have had the habit of leaving my blocks carts chairs and such…

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“One of the things people don’t understand about Eleanor Roosevelt, because she seemed so ladylike, and she has that aristocratic voice and that manner: she was tough as nails. In fact she was…

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Planning to visit the U.S. Capital in person this spring? If so, the official National Park Service app for the National Mall and memorial parks can be used to explore 70 of the most cherished…

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The appeal of the Beauty and the Beast story, with its accent on compassion and the universal message “love conquers all,” transcends the boundaries of age and time. It continues to delight young…

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In the past few years, we highlighted how the writings of Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Britain (1874–1965) could profitably engage students in the study of informational texts through…

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The sentiments expressed in this letter written March 31, 1776, by Abigail Adams to her husband, future president, John Adams, were way ahead of their time. Legislative representation by women did…

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This month, in honor of African American History, we offer several new and classic suggestions for teachers looking to incorporate the best open-source—i.e., free—digital…

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Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City on March 11, 1959. This premiere marked a milestone in the American theater and in our…

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Last time, I began to survey how American artists viewed the Great War (1914–1918). This NEH-supported exhibition, World War I and American Art, has uncovered forgotten works that could…

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February 16 marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year—the most important festival in this cultural tradition as well as the most joyous. Lasting for fifteen days, it ushers in a period of family…

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Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address is not only considered the greatest inaugural address but is also widely viewed as one of the most significant speeches in American literature. Its no suprise…

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World War I (1914-1918) has been called the seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century, leading to the destruction of four empires (Russian, German, Austrian-Hungrian, and Ottoman), the rise of…

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Robert Frost is one of the most beloved and widely taught poets of the 20th century. Such a masterful poet poses challenges to poetry readers of any age, but especially to middle and high school…