The American Civil War has inspired thousands of books and websites, offering teachers an abundance of Civil War internet sites and resources. In response to teacher requests, the following classroom resources have been chosen and organized based on the Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning (SOLs) relating to the Civil War. These diverse resources cover all grade levels and include primary sources, lesson plans, field trips, and multimedia.
Each SOL and its corresponding resources are listed below, including the pertinent curriculum framework developed by the Virginia Department of Education. The SOLs addressed in this guide are:
• US History to 1865 – USI.9
• US History 1865-Present – USII.3
• Virginia Studies – VS.7 and VS.8
• Virginia & US History – VUS.7
The resources listed are from history scholarship organizations, museums, universities, and libraries:
American Civil War Center
The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar in Richmond, Virginia, has 18 Civil War programs for classes, all of which are based on the Virginia SOLs. These programs apply to different grade levels and examine various aspects of the Civil War.
Civil War Trust
The Civil War Trust offers lesson plans, primary sources, maps, and field trip plans. The Trust developed elementary, middle, and high school curricula for the Civil War sesquicentennial, all of which can be downloaded from its education page. This resource page highlights in particular its field trip planner, which directs teachers in taking their students to battlefields and other Civil War sites.
Digital Scholarship Lab, University of Richmond
The Digital Scholarship Lab develops innovative digital humanities projects that contribute to research and teaching. Some of its many projects focus on the American Civil War, featuring primary sources, maps, and data interpretation.
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
The Gilder Lehrman Institute teacher guide to Civil War and Reconstruction provides background and points teachers to online exhibits, primary sources, lesson plans, podcasts from Civil War historians, and more.
Library of Congress: America’s Story from America’s Library
This LOC website is geared toward younger students. The central feature of America’s Story is a timeline, which is used to elaborate on famous Americans and different periods in history, including the Civil War.
Library of Congress: American Memory
Through the LOC American Memory database, students and teachers may access many Civil War related primary sources.
Library of Congress: The Civil War
The LOC has developed this useful online guide to Civil War resources for teachers.
Library of Virginia
The Library of Virginia Online Classroom offers access to excellent teaching sources, all of which are connected to Virginia SOLs. There are interactive exhibits, primary source databases, and guides for further research.
National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives offers wonderful Civil War teaching resources through the DocsTeach online education program, which features lesson plans and more than 600 primary sources from the Civil War era. The site also hosts an online exhibit, Discovering the Civil War.
National Endowment for the Humanities: EDSITEment!
EDSITEment! provides lesson plans and an overview of useful websites for teachers and students, including interactive maps and other media.
Smithsonian Museums History Explorer
History Explorer is a gateway to innovative, standards-based online resources for teaching and learning American history, designed and developed by the National Museum of American History.
TeachingHistory.org, National History Education Clearing House
Teaching History is a gateway for substantial teaching materials. The website organizes activities and ideas by grade level and features programs like “Ask a Historian,” “Ask a Master Teacher,” and “Ask a Digital Historian.” The site also provides searchable state education standards.
University of Iowa Libraries Civil War Diaries Transcription Project
The University of Iowa Libraries website is home to a "crowdsourcing" project, the Civil War Diaries Transcription Project. Teachers and students engage directly with primary sources by transcribing them and ensuring their place in the historical record.
Virginia Center for Digital History, University of Virginia
The VCDH Guide to Primary Resources for U.S. History categorizes primary sources from each era of American history by SOL and provides teaching tips and lesson suggestions for each primary source.
Virginia Historical Society
The Virginia Historical Society website features online exhibits from the museum’s past and current exhibitions, as well as valuable multimedia for the classroom.