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Teaching Civics through Preservation

Have you seen our Teaching Civics webpage? Learn about our resources for helping teach civic responsibility and Civil War history through battlefield preservation. At the webpage, you'll find lesson plans, ideas for preservation projects, and success stories from classes, scout groups, and history clubs that have participated.

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From the Educators

October 2012
Dear Civil War Educator and Preservationist,

The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam has passed but in its wake are left some great resources for your classrooms, including the teacher's guide and lesson plans below. These resources can help bring this momentous and meaningful battle and battlefield right to your classrooms. And there is no dearth of commemorative activities for the rest of the year. Perryville, Bristoe Station, Mine Run, Fredericksburg, and Stones River are just some of the names of hallowed places that you should be hearing about, no matter where you live.

Thanks for all you do in your classrooms to help the next generation understand and remember the Civil War.

Garry Adelman
Director of History and Education


Antietam 360 Teacher's Guide

Antietam 360 Teacher's Guide Civil War enthusiasts from around the country flocked to Antietam last month for the battle's 150th anniversary. If you couldn't bring your class to the battlefield, you can now bring the battlefield to your class! A teacher's guide is available for our recently released Antietam 360 feature, which offers a virtual, interactive tour of the battlefield.

View the Guide »


Animated Map Lesson Plan

Animated Map Lesson Plan In addition to our Antietam 360 feature, the Civil War Trust has also released a Battle of Antietam animated map detailing the events of the battle. Check out our new accompanying lesson plan for teaching about leadership and decision-making at Antietam.

View the Lesson Plan »


New Smithsonian Photography Exhibit

New Smithsonian Photography Exhibit The Civil War Trust has partnered with the Smithsonian Institute, History Channel, and the Center for Civil War Photography to open an exhibit on Civil War photography at the Smithsonian Castle. The exhibit features 3-D photography, photographs of the Smithsonian during the war, and an explanation of how Civil War era photographs were produced. The exhibit will be open until July 2013.

Learn More about the Exhibit »


NCSS Annual Conference

NCSS Annual Conference The National Council for the Social Studies will be hosting its annual conference on November 16-18 in Seattle, WA. The Conference will include a plethora of speakers and sessions covering virtually all areas of social studies education. If that's not enough reason to show up, the Civil War Trust will lead a workshop focusing on our Civil War curriculum for teachers of all grade levels.

Register to Attend »

Book of the Month

Book of the Month

Stolen Into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northup, Free Black Man
Judith Fradin
National Geographic, 2012.

Many students of American history are no doubt aware of the purpose of the Underground Railroad. They may also be aware of Henry "Box" Brown's escape from slavery, or the clever ruse used by the Crafts to reach freedom. But whether or not they are aware of the opposite situation - that of free blacks being kidnapped into slavery - they will surely be educated after reading the horrific story of Solomon Northup. So common was the practice of kidnapping free blacks and selling them into slavery that many states, including Northup's native New York, enacted a law making it the state's duty to locate and recover any resident who was kidnapped and sold. And although this law did nothing to prevent Northup's loss of freedom, it ultimately was the legal measure by which he was set free. But between the time of his kidnapping in 1841 - when he was duped and then drugged into slavery - and his freedom twelve long years later, he was sold three times. He worked in the harshest conditions in the Deep South, was abused by a sadistic owner, and betrayed by another man he thought would help him escape. As time went on, it appeared that the nightmare Northup was living would have no end, for as the Fradins note: "As events from his years as a free man faded deeper into the past, his former life seemed like a dream. Yet in his soul there remained a flicker of hope that one day he would regain his freedom." It was that flicker of hope, and his encounter with Samuel Bass, a white man whom his master assigned him to work with, that resulted in Northup's salvation. Bass made it known that although he worked in the South and worked with slaves, that slavery "was all wrong." When Northup made tentative overtures to Bass and related his story to him, Bass vowed to do all he could to liberate Northup, even though doing so would endanger Bass as well as Northup. True to his word, Bass, with the aid and assistance of the state of New York, succeeded in liberating Northup from slavery and reuniting him with his family. Northup's owner did not give him up without a fight and the men who were responsible for kidnapping him were later found not guilty in court because the law at the time did not permit Northup to testify. His autobiography, Twelve Years a Slave, followed shortly after, and was described as "one of the most effective books against slavery every written."

This compelling story will be released as a motion picture in 2013, according to IMBD.com. Northup's original memoir, Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853, is in the public domain and can be accessed at Documenting the American South or on Google Books in its entirety. It is also still in print and available for purchase.

Special thanks to Rosanne Zajko for her book reviews! If you have a Civil War book that you particularly like, or would like to review for this newsletter, send it in to education@civilwar.org. Thanks!

See More Book Reviews »


Trivia from the Archives

Trivia from the Archives Q. What Kentucky battle was the climax of the Confederate "Heartland Offensive?"

Q. What Union Admiral captured Mobile Bay in Alabama despite the ‘torpedoes' protecting the bay?

Answers from the Archives »


Civil War on the Web

  • Final Farewells »
    On this website, the Smithsonian Institution provides a lesson plan for analyzing the 1860 college yearbook signatures of a future Confederate soldier who attended college in New Jersey. The yearbook is a fascinating primary source for analyzing the complex ideas and feelings which characterized America on the eve of war.
  • The History Kitchen: Civil War Cooking »
    This PBS-hosted site provides a history of food preparation in the Union army replete with historic photographs and quotations. It even contains a recipe for "Captain Sanderson's Commissary Beef Stew."
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