History Weblinks for Students and Teachers

Websites for K-12

General Resources:

http://www.LessonPlans.com website with a wide variety of history lessons for K-12

http://www.artifaqs.co.uk website featuring artifacs tested by teachers for hands-on history learning

http://www.deweybrowse.org websites for classified by the Dewey Decimal Classification for grades K-12

http://www.ldonline.org/article/21055 on teaching history to children with learning disabilities

http://www.coolteacherlinks.com offers a variety of teacher resources, reference links, and other teaching sources for K-12

http://www.extraworksheets.com has worksheets to help focus students on the basic skills or practice for upcoming exams K-12

http://www.worksheetlibrary.com organized website offering a variety of worksheets for grades K-6 in various subjects, including social studies

http://www.sitesforteachers.com provides hundreds of links to a variety of subjects (including history) for primary and secondary education

http://www.history.ctaponline.org offers history course models for California teachers

African History:
http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/africaneducation/teaching-africa-K12.html Stanford University Library’s fine compilation of websites on teaching K-12 about African history

http://www.mnh.si.edu/africanvoices Created by the Smithsonian Institution, this visually appealing website teaches students about Africa’s history and peoples from pre-history to the present; the site works on a wide variety of browsers, platforms and network connections

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specials/1624_story_of_africa/index.shtml A BBC developed website tracing African history from early times but especially since the 15th century

American History:

http://education.eastwestcenter.org/asiapacificed/ph2004 Remembering Pearl Harbor: History, Memory, and Memorial. Fine website by Asia Pacific Ed for students and general public on the events at Pearl Harbor.

http://www.gpoaccess.gov/wcomp/index.html Weekly compilation of Presidential Documents provides high school students (and above) with official publications of presidential statements, messages and other pertinent
material.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/georgewashington Official White House website offering succinct and informative brief biographical information on all US Presidents

http://www.newberry.org/K12maps Developed by the Herman Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography at the Newberry Library, this site provides historically significant map documents (American) for the K-12 classroom

http://www.nps.gov/revwar The American Revolution website of the National Park Service provides educational material for K-12 students and teachers

http://vlib.iue.it/history/USA/ERAS/revolutionary.html extensive variety of documents on the American Revolution, 1765-1783

http://www.gilderlehrman.org/teachers/module1/index.html Institute of American History’s Module on the Revolutionary War, including documents, resources and much more; great, reliable site

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/issues_in_depth/WomensHistory.html Lesson plans for grades 6-12 from the New York Times on Women’s History

http://picturingamerica.neh.gov/about.php sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, this wonderful website relates the history of America through art — paintings, sculpture, architecture, crafts and photos

http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/index.htm The National Humanities Center’s “Toolbox Library: Primary Resources in U.S. History & Literature’ begins with the European presence in North America (early 17th c.) and currently ends in 1968 (note that some sections are still under construction)

http://free.ed.gov/index.cfm is the Federal Resources for Educational Excellence website that has all kinds of American history topics and resources for teachers and students

http://www.history.org wonderful website of Colonial Williamsburg with much to offer for everyone

http://www.edsitement.neh.gov sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities

http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/twhp matches historical sites throughout the US with history lessons

http://www.smithsoniansource.org hosted by the Smithsonian Institute, this website offers lesson plans as well as primary source material on a variety of American history subjects

http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators/lesson_plans/history_culture.html Wide variety of classroom lessons on History and Culture available for grades K-12

http://www.easehistory.org website for U.S. history requiring Flash player 7 and high speed connection

http://www.teachinghistory.org offers access to great history resources for K-12

http://www3.newberry.org/k12maps/teachers/index.html links to the Newberry Library of Chicago’s “Historic Maps in K-12 Classrooms,” with its six themes in American history — Exploration & Encounter, Migration & Settlement, Environmental, Transportation, Political and Military History, and Geography of American communities

http://nationalatlas.gov/history.html especially good for high school students learning about American elections

http://www.americaslibrary.gov/about/welcome.html fine site designed by the Library of Congress for young students interested in learning more about US history

http://www.house.gov/house/Educate.shtml U.S. House of Representatives website providing document texts for students and general public

http://www.nwhp.org website of the National Women’s History Project

http://teachingamericanhistorymd.net is a collaborative effort of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) to educate Maryland’s students about the state of Maryland’s history. The site has lots of wonderful documents for K-12 students and teachers.

http://www.pbs.org/ancestorsintheamericas/aahistorysites.html offers students in grades 9-12 an opportunity to learn about Asian immigration to the US

http://www.t2tweb.us/Workshops/Sessions.asp?Content=History is a general website created by and for American teachers, offering a number of “sessions material” for history

http://www.wm.edu/hsi (Historical Scene Investigation) interesting website where students can use their investigative skills to explore cases in American history

http://civilwar.si.edu/resources_sold.html maintained by the Smithsonian, this website contains a number of links to Civil War-related sites for students

http://cwar.nps.gov/civilwar National Park Service’s Civil War website

http://ushistory.com interesting American history website that uses music to help students learn specific lessons

http://commtechlab.msu.edu/sites/letsnet/NoFrames/Subjects/ss/index.html Michigan State University College of Education and Ameritech provide K-12 lessons on, for example, Ellis Island, the Holocaust and Pocahontas

http://newdeal.feri.org sponsored by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, this fine educational website offers students and teachers resources about the Great Depression and the New Deal

http://www.whitehousehistory.org instructive website devoted to the history of the White House; includes historic photos, timelines, videos (also info on history of presidential inaugurations)

http://www.historicalvoices.org/earliest_voices/iev.html interesting multimedia site “presenting some of the most significant voices captured during the first years of sound recording, 1877-1927”

http://www.let.rug.nl/~usa/P/index.htm — the University of Groningen in the Netherlands has assembled presidential speeches and addresses from George Washington to George W. Bush for the internet

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pivid00.html The Library of Congress’s site on Presidential inaugurations is also very useful but requires Mime for
some applications

http://www.loc.gov/vets/stories/index.html The Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project is well worth visiting for providing veterans’ (both male and female) experiences of war since WWI

http://www.vvmf.org/index.cfm?SectionID=11 “Echoes from the Wall” is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s secondary school curriculum about the Vietnam War era designed to educate students about the war. Lesson plans are in PDF.

http://www.historicalvoices.org/galleries.php Historical Voices “is one of the first fully functional, multi-media, interoperable digital libraries available on line”; current offerings are: Conversations with Studs Terkel, U.S Supreme Court, The Flint sit-down Strike and various other U.S. historical personalities

http://inaugural.senate.gov/history All you need to know about the background to presidential inaugurations

http://crdl.usg.edu/voci/go/crdl/home Civil Rights Digital Library includes resources for the classroom on the struggle for racial equality in the 1950s and 1960s

http://www.history.org An outstanding website created by Colonial Williamsburg Foundation with lots of information for everyone

http://www.virtualjamestown.org/page2.html Virtual Jamestown includes primary and other teaching materials

http://hitchcock.itc.virginia.edu/Slavery/index.php Fine website [The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record] developed by Jerome S. Handler and Micahel L. Tuite Jr. that contains over 1000 images from a variety of sources for educational use

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/ftrials.htm Interesting website that provides transcripts, background information and commentary of some of the most famous trials in history (primarily for high school and above)

http://teacher.scholastic.com/africanamericanheritage Scholastic Books maintains a web page with various resources on African-Americans (contains lesson plans, videos and interviews)

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snhome.html Library of Congress-maintained website “Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938.” This excellent site recounts the memories of African-American men and women who were slaves in the mid-nineteenth century and interviewed by government officials in the 1930’s.

http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn “Documenting the American South” is a fine website created by the University of North Carolina and devoted to providing first-person narratives, including diaries, autobiographies, and memoirs of ex-slaves

http://www.Lehigh.EDU/~ineng/ejg/rah.html Lehigh University’s Reel American project providing students and teachers with ideas for learning about history through film

Asian History:

http://web-japan.org/kidsweb Fun website designed for kids to learn about Japan; includes games, travel information, easy language instruction, recipes and folklore

http://aboutjapan.japansociety.org Website for educators to learn about Japan; provides teaching ideas and resources for K-12 classrooms

http://www.indianchild.com/history_of_india.htm presents history of India since ancient times until the present

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/intoc.html Library of Congress site that provides wealth of information on India

http://www.askasia.org — an educational website for students and teachers that provides resources on thirty Asian countries from early civilizations to the present

http://www.afe.easia.columbia.edu — Asia for Educators –developed by Columbia University’s East Asian Curriculum Project and the Project on Asia in the Core Curriculum, this site contains great resources for the classroom

http://depts.washington.edu/chinaciv/index.htm a wonderful site replete with visual and textual aids for learning about Chinese history

http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/asianlinks.html contains a number of links to primary documents on the lives of women in Asia

http://china.usc.edu/ShowArticle.aspx?articleID=189 primarily for California teachers of Asia, in particular, China but provides newsletters, forums and seminar information; site sponsored by University of Southern California

http://www.indiana.edu/~easc/outreach/educators/index.shtml Another good spot for teachers to find background materials for K-12 students; site sponsored by Indiana University includes bibliographies of primary and secondary source materials and other important resources

Environmental History:
http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/departments/espm/env-hist/eh-internet.html provides extensive information on learning about and teaching environmental history

European History:

http://www.holocausttaskforce.org Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (see its education section)

http://www.ilholocaustmuseum.org/pages/home/1.php Brand new museum on the Holocaust with educational materials and other links for teachers and students

http://fcit.usf.edu/holocaust/resource/resource.htm is a guide to Holocaust resources for teachers and students and includes documents, bibliographies, maps, movies, museum information and music

http://www.nizkor.org includes extensive material on various aspects of the Holocaust

http://www.ushmm.org is the official site of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

http://www.dinur.org/resources/resourceCategoryDisplay.aspx?categoryid=542&rsid=0 The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History. The Jewish History Resource Center. Essential site for teaching about the Holocaust.

http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution created by two well-known historians of the French revolution. The site is a treasure trove of learning on the event and contains primary documents as well (especially for high school)

http://wwar1.blogspot.com wonderful blog containing transcripts of an English soldier’s (Harry Lamin) letters during WWI

http://www.worldwar1.com highly detailed, well-maintained website on World War I but most information is meant for adults, although certain aspects may be gleaned for middle and high school students

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2children British Broadcasting Corporation’s kid-friendly website about what life was like during WWII

http://www.burntcakes.com an interesting British site offering a variety of free and for purchase materials for history teachers

Native American History:

http://www.nps.gov/nr//twhp/nov99.htm Teaching with Historic Places website provides nine different historic events that highlight Native American history

World History:

http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh Children and Youth in History — website developed by Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, providing more than 200 primary sources by region, case studies, and teaching modules

http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/womenRightsHome.html Teaching Women’s Rights from Past to Present provides commentary and primary source material on women’s rights (appropriate for high school and up)

http://www.giftsofspeech.org This website, sponsored by Sweet Briar College, currently contains a collection of the uncensored speeches of eighty-five prominent women from around the world (appropriate for high school and up)

http://www.worldhistoryforusall.sdsu.edu/default.htm curriculum for teaching world history to middle and high school students (run by San Diego State University)

http://www.cis.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/ Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute provides a number of fine curriculum units created by fellows of the Institute between 1978 and 2008

Organizations:

http://www.historians.org official website of the American Historical Association

http://www.nche.net National Council for History Education

http://www.socialstudies.org National Council for the Social Studies

http://www.thewha.org The World History AssociationOn-Line:
Cold War Museum (currently on-line only) http://www.coldwar.org

Museum Websites

Historical Museum Guide for the United States — http://www.censusfinder.com/guide_to_historical_museums.htm . This great resource provides the links to various history museums throughout the US

In the Mid-Atlantic region:

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Staunton, Virginia http://www.woodrowwilson.org — dedicated to preserving Wilson’s accomplishments as the 28th U.S. President; new WWI exhibit recently opened to the public: “World War I: The ‘Doughboy’ War”

The Wartime Museum, Manassas, Virginia — anticipated opening Veterans’ Day 2010; dedicated to American experience at war (soldiers and citizens) from World War I to the present http://nmaw.org

Newseum, Washington, D.C. — great museum dedicated to the history of “news” and “the important role it plays in all of our lives” http://www.newseum.org/index.aspx

United States Holocaust Museum, Washington, D.C. — given the subject matter, this museum is best suited for adults and more mature students aged twelve and older. School/docent tours arranged in advance. Educational materials available online as well. Speakers available for classroom via “Speakers Bureau.” Researchers should consult collections and archives of Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. http://www.ushmm.org

National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C. — fantastic museum for young and old interested in all aspects of American history. Currently under renovation, the museum is scheduled to reopen sometime during the summer of 2008. http://americanhistory.si.edu [reopens November 21, 2008]

National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C. — wonderful place to learn about native Americans. Offers school tours/educational materials. See website for details: http://www.nmai.si.edu

National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C. — where else can you experience the history of flight by sitting in actual planes or walking through space capsules? Undoubtedly THE BEST PLACE for learning about aviation history. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (located in Chantilly, Virginia, near Dulles Airport) houses additional fascinating exhibits such as the Wright Flyer and the Apollo 11 Command Module. Offers tours and educational materials. See http://www.nasm.si.edu

National Women’s History Museum, Washington, D.C. http://www.nmwh.org

National Museum of the Marine Corps — pays tribute to the history of the Marines; about 45 south of Washington, D.C., off I-95, open daily from 9-5 (except on Christmas) http://www.usmcmuseum.org

U.S. National Slavery Museum– currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2008 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. http://www.usnationalslaverymuseum.org

The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, Richmond, VA http://www.blackhistorymuseum.org

Mount Vernon, Mt. Vernon, Virginia — home of George Washington, just outside Washington, D.C. http://www.mountvernon.org

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello — home of Thomas Jefferson located near Charlottesville, Virginia http://www.monticello.org

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia — wonderful 18th century village (the restored capital of “Britain’s largest, wealthiest, and most populous outpost of empire in the New World,” including portrayals by actors of major figures from the era. http://www.history.org

The Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia — dedicated to the “display, study, interpretation, commemoration, and preservation of the history and artifacts of the Confederate States http://www.moc.org

Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier — award-winning museum that relates the story of the Petersburg Campaign through re-enactors and demonstrations of military and civilian life during the Civil War; the Park also offers a summer History Day Camp (on site) and Teachers’ Institute (at William and Mary); details @ http://www.pamplinpark.org

In the Northeast Region:

Minute Man National Historic Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts — Established by Congress in September 1959, Minute Man NHP honors the opening battle of the American Revolutionary War. Within the park are a visitor center with a multimedia theater, trails for exploring battle routes and period structures. http://www.nps.gov/mima/index.htm

Civil War and Underground Railroad Museum, Philadelphia, PA — the oldest chartered Civil War institution in the U.S. preserves that conflict’s history through its collection of artifacts and written and photographic documents. In 2010 the museum will relocate from its current Pine Street location to a new home at Third and Chestnut Street. Although its doors have closed (August 2nd) to facilitate the move, the museum can be accessed through its website @ http://www.cwurmuseum.org

National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA — great interactive museum for students and adults alike (located two blocks from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall) devoted to “increasing public understanding of, and appreciation for, the Constitution, its history, and its contemporary relevance.” Offers pre-arranged educational tours. Consult website: http://constitutioncenter.org

The African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA — museum chronicles the black Diaspora through art, artifacts, clothing, furniture, instruments, photographs, diaries and other documents. Educational materials/group tours available in advance. http://www.aampmuseum.org

National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA– museum explores the history and experiences of American Jewry from the 1880’s to the present. Educational tours available. For details see http://www.nmajh.org

New York Historical Society, New York, NY — home to New York city’s oldest museum, the society holds four centuries of American history, including artifacts and art documenting US history through the prism of New York City and the state; special exhibit on “Grant and Lee in War and Peace” through March 2009. See https://www.nyhistory.org/web

The Anne Frank Center, New York City — dedicated to the memory of Anne Frank and her experiences during the Holocaust; open to students in grades 2-12 and groups of adults for educational purposes; See http://www.annefrank.com

The Jewish Museum, New York, NY — museum explores 4000 years of Jewish culture through a variety of exhibitions. School programs available for elementary through high school students. See http://www.thejewishmuseum.org for complete details.

Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA — open all year round, Old Sturbridge Village depicts what life was like in this New England town in the late eighteenth- and early nineteeth- centuries. Great for students and teachers. Field trips information and online educational materials available from http://www.osv.org

Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth, New Hampshire — interactive museum dedicated to teaching about the history of Portsmouth and its settlers since the 17th century. http://site.mawebcenters.com/strawberybanke/index.html

Museum of African-American History, Boston, http://www.afroammuseum.org

New England Pirate Museum http://www.piratemuseum.com/ Salem, MA

Witch Dungeon Museum http://www.witchdungeon.com/witchdungeon.html Salem, MA — teaches about the Salem Witch craze of 1692

In the Midwest Region:
Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Skokie, IL — Opened in April 2009, this museum, located in a northern suburb of Chicago, provides permanent and traveling exhibitions about the Holocaust (and genocide throughout the world) for students, teachers and the general public. It also has a research library with materials accessible for primary through high school students. http://www.ilholocaustmuseum.org/pages/home/1.php

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL — memorable museum containing a variety of interactive experiences from a descent into a coal mine and walking tour of a captured German WWII submarine. Also houses the Apollo 8 Command Module. A must see for adults and students alike. http://www.msichicago.org

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, IL — innovative and interactive museum with “you-are-there” settings “that put you inside dramatic moments in Lincoln’s life” http://www.lincolnlibraryandmuseum.com

DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago http://www.dusablemuseum.org

Frazier International History Museum, Louisville, KY — Where else could you find the “Big Stick” of President Theodore Roosevelt, the bow attributed to Geronimo, the family bible of pioneer Daniel Boone, and the pistols of General Custer? This museum has these and much more, including live performances by costumed interpreters and educational programming for everyone. http://www.fraziermuseum.org/about.asp

Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, Dearborn, MI — museum celebrating the life and times of automobile entrepreneur Henry Ford. This museum offers a variety of experiences for students and adults interested in learning about the history of transportation and its impact on American life. Among the many fascinating artifacts within the village are the Rosa Parks bus and Abraham Lincoln’s chair. A must see. Student tours available. Consult http://www.hfmgv.org

Winston Churchill Memorial and Library, Fulton, Missouri — provides programs and resources commemorating the life and career of Sir Winston Churchill. http://www.churchillmemorial.org

In the West:
Autry National Center of the American West, Los Angeles, CA: Co-founded by former Western TV star Gene Autry, the museum is devoted to exploring the diverse heritage of the American West. http://www.autrynationalcenter.org

The Wing Luke Asian Museum, Seattle, Washington: A Smithsonian Institution affiliate that is the premier pan-Asian American museum in the country. http://www.wingluke.org/home.htm

Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles: This museum chronicles the history of Chinese American experience in Southern California. http://www.camla.org

Holocaust Museum Houston. Devoted to teaching about the dangers of bigotry, hatred and apathy. http://www.hmh.org/au_home.shtml

Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, California. Institution committed to confronting anti-Semitism, bigotry and hate throughout the world. http://www.wiesenthal.com/site/pp.asp?c=lsKWLbPJLnF&b=4441251; its educational wing is the
Museum of Tolerance and Learning http://www.museumoftolerance.com/site/c.tmL6KfNVLtH/b.4865925/k.CAD7/HomeMOT.htm

In the South:

International Civil Rights Center and Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina. http://www.sitinmovement.org/home.asp Brand new museum honoring the Greensboro Four’s role in the American civil rights movement.

The William Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum, Atlanta, Georgia. http://www.thebreman.org/index.html Collects, preserves, interprets and teaches the Jewish experience in Georgia and Alabama

The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida. Maitland, Florida. http://www.holocaustedu.org

The Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte, North Carolina. Specializes in post-Civil War history. http://www.museumofthenewsouth.org

The Southern Museum, Kennesaw, Georgia. Museum dedicated to the Civil War and locomotive History in Kennesaw, Georgia:
http://www.southernmuseum.org

Museums around the World:

Europe
The British Museum — a must see world history museum, should your travels bring you to London; from classical Greece and Rome to Egyptian mummies, to Japanese sculptures and art, this museum is truly a learning experience not to be missed. Explore online @http://www.britishmuseum.org — admission is free

The Museum of London — a great museum dedicated to the history of the city since Roman times; currently undergoing renovation until 2010 of its lower galleries. See http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/English

London Transport Museum — wonderful museum devoted to the history of transportation, including the Tube, automobiles, and buses; located at Covent Garden
http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/default.aspx

Jüdisches Museum Berlin — completed in 2001, this museum explores two millenium of German-Jewish history through photos, texts, arts and artifacts; a must see if you are visiting the German capital http://www.juedisches-museum-berlin.de/site/EN/homepage.php?meta=TRUE

Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum), Berlin — great museum that covers German history from before the Middle Ages to the present and contains incredible artifacts and special exhibits (not to be missed) http://www.dhm.de

The Anne Frank House — located on the Prinsengracht (“Prince Canal”) in Amsterdam, the original house in which Anne Frank and family were hidden is a museum open to the public that shouldn’t be missed http://www.channels.nl/amsterdam/annefran.html ; see also the Anne Frank Center http://www.annefrank.com for educational material

The Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance — located in Mechelen, Belgium, (half way between Brussels and Antwerp) in the former Kazerne Dossin, where during WWII Jews were assembled for deportation to eastern camps; the museum offers guided tours and also contains an archive http://www.cicb.be/en/home_en.htm

Australia
Australian History Museum — housed in Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, the AHM maintains a collection of over 3500 items from Australia’s pre-colonial history until the present; http://www.austhistmuseum.mq.edu.au

National Museum of Australia, Canberra — explores the social history of Australia through its vast collections and exhibits; http://www.nma.gov.au/about_us

Australian War Memorial — located near Canberra, this museum commemorates the deeds of Australian soldiers in various wars; http://www.awm.gov.au

New Zealand

Auckland Museum — Established in 1852 in Auckland, this museum offers extensive educational experiences for everyone interested in the history of New Zealand; http://www.aucklandmuseum.com

National Army Museum — dedicated to New Zealand’s contribution in various wars; http://www.armymuseum.co.nz (Waiouru, New Zealand)

Military Museums

National World War I Museum, Kansas City, Missouri

The number of museums devoted to preserving the memories of the two world wars has been steadily increasing over the last couple of decades spurred by the rapidly dwindling ranks of their veterans. Many of these newcomers combine displays of artifacts with interactive exhibits and educational programs. Although these institutions enshrine the exploits of people who are now elderly, they are no longer your grandfather’s (or even father’s) museums.

The most recent ambitious addition to these is the National World War One Museum, located in Kansas City, Missouri, which opened its doors to the public on December 2, 2006, and has been designated by Congress as the U.S.’s official World War I museum. But why, if the museum is considered to be a “national” institution, was it built in the Midwest instead of in Washington, D.C.? Why in a city in which hundreds rather than thousands of soldiers died during that conflict, was the idea of a museum conceived? The answer lies with the determination of a group of devoted Kansas City citizens who wished to preserve the memory of those who fought in World War I for future generations. Only two weeks after the Armistice in November 1918, these concerned individuals, calling themselves the Liberty Memorial Association, met to discuss plans for a permanent memorial. In 1919, following a successful fund raising drive that raised $2.5 million in less than two weeks, the association held a competition for architectural firms across the country to compete for the memorial’s design. On November 1, 1921, among the nearly 200,000 people gathered for the dedication of the site for the planned Liberty Memorial, were American General John J. Pershing (a native Missourian), Admiral David Beatty of Great Britain, Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France, General Armando Diaz of Italy, and Lieutenant General Baron Jacques of Belgium. President Calvin Coolidge officially dedicated the newly-constructed Liberty Memorial on Armistice Day, November 11, 1926, with these words: “The memorial also symbolizes the obligation that rests upon present and future generations to preserve that for which those men and women offered their all, and from many of whom supreme sacrifice was accepted. May their memory live on, and may every American who looks upon this noble edifice be inspired by their devotion.” Towering 217 feet above the city, the obelisk-like tower, with stone sphinxes (which represented Memory and the Future) at each side, made a lasting impression, as its founders had intended, upon fellow Kansas Citians.

Now, eighty years later, a renovated and substantially expanded museum has opened that is both impressive and awe-inspiring for Kansas City residents and all Americans alike. Designed by Ralph Appelbaum, whose architectural firm handled both the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, the new museum not only offers visitor a chance to view artifacts (weaponry, uniforms) and documents (postcards, letters) but holds a lecture series and educational services as well. Presently, between April and October 2007, a number of prominent historians of the First World War are presenting lectures in a series entitled “The Legacy of the Great War: 90 Years On.” For further details on the new museum and its complete offerings, see http://www.libertymemorialmuseum.org

Canadian War Museum explores Canada’s military history and features the experiences of soldiers at the front and civilians at home. The museum’s website http://www.armuseum.ca offers informative material on a variety of military campaigns from the Seven Years War onwards. The museum itself is located in Ottawa, Canada.

Historial de la Grande Guerre [The Museum of the Great War], Pėronne, France

Located on the Somme River in northwestern France, the Museum of the Great War opened on August 1, 1992, and is housed within the walls of a medieval fortress damaged during the First World War. The Museum, designed by architect Henri-Edouard Ciriani, examines the war — the battlefield and the homefront — from a comparative perspective. In addition to its exhibits, the Museum contains a research center which sponsors conferences and lectures, publishes works on the war, and offers fellowships for scholars. An audio guide is available in English, French and German for the permanent exhibition. Contact: http://www.historial.org

Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 in Zonnebeke,Belgium

Opened in Zonnebeke Chateau on April 25, 2004, this museum honors the fallen of one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres), July 31,1917– November 10, 1917. The British, led by Sir Douglas Haig, believed that they needed to mount a major offensive to relieve pressure on shaky French armies that had not recovered fully from a series of mutinies. Moreover, despite all evidence to the contrary, Haig believed a decisive breakthrough was imminent in Flanders if only the Allied troops would persevere. But even by the wretched standards of the western front, the experience of soldiers at Passchendaele was horrific. The tremendous bombardment of German lines that preceded the Allied attack not only eliminated any element of surprise, it also churned up the soil and destroyed canals intended for drainage. When exceptionally heavy autumn rains fell, the entire battlefield became one vast, dangerous morass. Many unfortunate soldiers drowned in flooded shell craters, and others were trapped in paralyzing mud. When the campaign finally dragged to a halt, the Allies had made a few modest gains, but at the cost of over 300,000 casualties. The Belgian village around which the battles raged has thus become a synonym for the horrors of trench warfare. The museum itself is about four miles from the famous town of Ypres, and two miles from the largest British/Commonwealth cemetery (with over 12,000 graves), Tyne Cot Cemetery. Highlights of the museum include reconstructions of a trench and of a 20-foot deep dugout (many original dugouts from the campaign still survive but are too dangerous to explore). Further information can be found at: http://www.passchendaele.be

OTHER WWI MUSEUMS OF INTEREST:

http://www.inflandersfield.be [Flanders Field Museum]

http://www.klm-mra.be Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History, Brussels, Belgium — extensive exhibits on ten centuries of warfare to the present; excellent online information

http://www.greatwarflyingmuseum.com [Caledon, Ontario, Canada] — open May through October; WWI artifacts and aircraft shows

* http://www.iwm.org.uk [Imperial War Museum, London] — Established in 1920 to collect and exhibit material relating to the First World War, the Imperial War Museum can rightly describe itself as Britain’s “national museum of twentieth-century conflict.” Its extensive collections provide a fascinating written, aural and visual record of modern warfare, and include photographs, drawings, prints, paintings, and films, in addition to the artifacts such as weapons or uniforms familiar to museum visitors. Initially housed in cramped conditions in South Kensington, the museum moved in 1936 to its current location on Lambeth Road, not far from Waterloo Station. Over the past years, several other locations have come officially under the IWM’s umbrella: a northern branch in Trafford, the underground Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall, the Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire, and the World War II cruiser, H.M.S. Belfast, moored in the River Thames.

http://www.awm.gov.au [Australian War Memorial] The Australian War Memorial was the brainchild of two men: C.W.E. Bean, the official war historian of Australian military operations in World War I who accompanied the troops to Gallipoli in 1915 and elsewhere, and John Treloar, the head of the Australian War Records Section in London who was charged with collecting memorabilia and other relevant materials. An initial exhibition opened in 1923, but the museum did not find a permanent home until the completion of its current building in Canberra in 1941. By then it was necessary to begin collecting materials for yet another world war, and, like London’s Imperial War Museum, the Australian War Memorial has become a repository of record for the nation’s conflicts throughout the twentieth century. Its stated aim is not to glorify war or exult in victory, but to honor and commemorate the sacrifices made by every member of Australia’s armed services.

WORLD WAR II MUSEUMS:

National World War II Museum

Although the official WWII memorial is located in Washington, D.C., the National World War II Museum resides in New Orleans, Louisiana. Founded in 1991 by the late Stephen Ambrose and officially dedicated in June 2000, the National World War II Museum contains permanent exhibits relating to the D-Day preparations and subsequent invasion as well as special displays pertaining to the war in general. The Museum’s site of New Orleans was chosen to honor Andrew Higgins, who was responsible for building the landing craft used in the amphibious invasions in Normandy. More information on the museum can be found at http:// http://www.nationalww2museum.org. The museum also hosts an annual conference on WWII (see “Forthcoming History Conferences” on our website for details).

Museum of World War II

Located in Natick, Massachusetts, just west of Boston, the Museum of WWII boasts the “most comprehensive display of original World War II artifacts on exhibit anywhere in the world.” Its collection includes wartime letters, documents (Hitler’s draft of the Munich agreement; the first message alerting the military to the Pearl Harbor attack) and manuscripts belonging to soldiers, citizens on the homefront, concentration camp inmates and important wartime figures, among these Roosevelt, Churchill, and Hitler. There are also plenty of interesting artifacts, including items having belonged to Hitler, a collection of Enigma code machines, and other materials used in the daily lives of soldiers and citizens. An on-site archive contains a collection of photographs, prisoners of war diaries, propaganda leaflets, and war plans. http://museumofworldwarii.com

Central Florida World War II Museum

This museum is still in the planning stages but hopes to find a suitable location between Tampa and Orlando to display collected WWII artifacts. See http://cfloridaww2museum.org for details.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

A must see museum located in Washington, D.C. near the Tidal Basin on Raul Wallenberg Place, S.W. In 1979, the President’s Commission on the Holocaust urged the construction of a living memorial to its victims and survivors. The result was the USHMM, built between July 1989 and April 1993. Since its dedication in 1993, the Museum has welcomed millions of people from all over the world interested in learning about the Nazi persecution, the concentration camps and its millions of victims. The Museum contains a vast array of artifacts and permanent and temporary exhibits, a research library and archive, and offers public lectures and conferences. Timed passes are required for visiting the museum’s permanent collections, although none are required for special exhibitions or the Wexner Learning Center with its interactive material on the crisis in Darfur. Please visit http://www.ushmm.org for complete details.

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