Landmark Lessons

Find lesson plans generated by teachers who completed the Cultures of Independence workshop at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The lessons illustrate how local and national history can be taught through a focus on a physical place and primary sources. Criteria for selecting lessons also included the teaching of historiography and, when appropriate, connections to the founding principles of the United States. Use a lesson from your region, or become inspired to create your own.

LGBTQ Activism and Contributions Primary Source Set

The lives, freedom struggles, and social and cultural contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people make up a rich part of the history of the United States, and primary sources from the Library of Congress provide valuable opportunities to explore individuals, movements, and events from the nation’s LGBTQ history.

Comparing American and French Revolutionary Documents

This activity engages students in a comparison of the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen. Students will focus on analyzing message, purpose, and audience. Students should complete the activity with an understanding that while the ideals underlying the two documents were very similar, the purpose and audience of the two documents differed significantly.

To Sign or Not to Sign

Students will consider the arguments made by members of the Continental Congress regarding whether or not to sign the Declaration of Independence. They will also have the opportunity to analyze each section of the Declaration to understand its meaning and consider the consequences of signing the document.

Grades 6, 7, 8
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

Extending Suffrage to Women

In this activity, students will analyze documents pertaining to the woman suffrage movement as it intensified following passage of the 15th Amendment that guaranteed the right to vote for African American males. Documents were chosen to call attention to the struggle’s length, the movement’s techniques, and the variety of arguments for and against giving women the vote.

Grades 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

Evaluating the New Departure Strategy in the Fight for Women’s Suffrage

In this activity, students will evaluate the New Departure strategy of the women’s suffrage movement – the idea that the Constitution already guaranteed the right to vote for women, they just had to test it by voting – that was championed by the National Woman Suffrage Association. Students will analyze documents from Susan B. Anthony’s arrest and trial for voting in the 1872 election. They will answer questions as they work through the documents and evaluate the claim that the Fourteenth Amendment enfranchised women.