Monthly Archives: May 2018 Podcasts Now Available on Stitcher!

The podcast, already available through iTunes and our RSS feed, and now with over 120 separate programs as of today, is now available through Stitcher, an outstanding podcast directory and app. We will continue to find new, easy ways to bring our content to you, in the apps and on the devices you’re using.

During June and July of 2018 we will be publishing two podcasts each month, on the 6th and 20th, featuring interviews with selected editors of our new Core American Documents Collections readers. The first of these will be on 6 June, the 74th anniversary of D-Day, and will be with Jennifer Keene, editor of our recently-released World War II volume.

Talking Politics and Religion in the American History Classroom

In today’s national conversation, which lately seems more like a countrywide schoolyard brawl with citizens hurling insults and memes, it can be challenging to explore complex ideas. Politics and religion, especially, can raise hackles of anger where there should be openness and understanding. Many teachers try to steer clear of these “touchy” topics in the interest of keeping the peace. But ignoring and avoiding events that have formed–and continue to shape–our country’s history only postpones the inevitable debate. We need a way to discuss our history without rancor.

The American History classroom, rather, should be an engaging and robust place to explore these ideas. And when teachers introduce primary sources into the conversation, the dynamic changes dramatically.

When structuring conversations around primary documents, teachers allow students to use their critical thinking skills to draw their own conclusions. While contemporary opinion pieces, satire, and viral social media phenomena can teach us a lot about our culture, foundational historical documents lead us to the roots of our national identity and should be at the core of any student’s education about religion and politics in the United States.

Imagine the impact these primary sources, unfiltered by social media and news outlets, can have on today’s students:

  • Sermons, poetry, and artwork that chronicle the diverse religious experiences of immigrants and religious liberty.
  • Excerpts of colonial law that grapple with the relationship between religious establishment and toleration.
  • Excerpts of founding documents that set the stage for the American political experience with religion.
  • Court cases that document the revolutionary, and often tenuous, separation of church and state.
  • Documents, addresses, and sermons that address the political-religious relationship with morals, evolution, communism, fundamentalism, liberalism, philosophy, education, and the Bible.

By studying primary documents, students will learn that while the United States was founded on the separation of church and state, politics and religion have been closely intertwined. They will also learn that it is not just acceptable to discuss religion and politics in the classroom but appropriate and timely, given our history.

As an instructor, you may feel somewhat ill at ease with addressing these documents, but offers plenty of support so that you can feel empowered to provide your students with the resources they need to develop informed opinions and grow into thoughtful, engaged citizens.

Register for our Religious Freedom Seminar in July to immerse yourself in this subject or download the 25 Core Documents in American History and Politics for adaptation in your classroom. You can also find more resources on Politics and Religion in America at

SYNOPSIS: Using primary documents in your American History classroom lesson plans can help you break through the buzz of fake news and introduce challenging conversations at the heart of politics and religion.

Documents in Detail: A Time for Choosing


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Click for a full video of the 1964 speech

The last episode in’s 2017-18 Documents in Detail webinar series, focused on Ronald Reagan’s 1964 “A Time for Choosing” speech. Often referred to as “The Speech,” is was a persuasive, articulate, and powerful endorsement of then-Republican presidential candidate Senator Barry Goldwater, and despite Goldwater’s loss that November, helped to propel Reagan to the forefront of national politics, keeping him in the public eye as he sought and won the governorship of California, went on to unsuccessfully challenge sitting Republican President Gerald Ford for his party’s nomination in 1976, and eventually win the presidency in 1980.

Access the full episode archive

Tunes Podcast

Podcast RSS

Core Documents: 2 Volume “Documents and Debates” now available


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The latest volumes of our Core American Documents Collections – Documents and Debates – are now available! and professors Rob McDonald and LTC Seanegan Sculley from the History Department at the United States Military Academy at West Point worked together to create a two-volume set of documents readers, which starting in Fall 2018, will be used by all West Point cadets in their two-semester American History survey course. These volumes are structured around a series of topics, each based on a debatable question. For each topic there is a collection of documents that, together, form the basis of argument over that topic – from those who debated it at a given point in American history. For example, students will have the opportunity to understand why and how FDR and his administration made a case for Social Security, and will also read reasoned arguments against the program. The goal is to explore a series of critical moments in American history by asking questions for which there are not simple yes/no answers, but instead call for informed discussion and rational debate – where answers can be said to be valid, but not necessarily wrong or right.

These readers also include appendices of additional documents, and together are a perfect fit for any American History survey course, including AP United States History.

Available Now!

Volume 1: 1493-1865: iTunes, Kindle, and PDF.

Volume 2: 1865-2009: iTunes, Kindle, and PDF.

Download both volumes – PDF here

Hard copies are also available for $10 each – email if you would like to place an order.

“Learning about history is not only about learning content – it’s about learning skills…” Listen to today’s podcast:


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As in the other volumes, each Core Documents volume will contain the following:

  • Key documents on the period, theme, or institution, selected by an expert and reviewed by an editorial board
  • An introduction highlighting key documents and themes
  • A thematic table of contents, showing the connections between various documents
  • Study questions for each document, as well as questions that refer to other documents in the collection
  • Notes on each document to identify people, events, movements, or ideas to improve understanding of the document’s historical context.

When complete, the series will be comprehensive and authoritative, and will present America’s story in the words of those who wrote it – all united in their commitment to equality and liberty, yet so often divided by their different understandings of these most fundamental American ideas.

In sum, our intent is that the documents and their supporting material provide unique access to the richness of the American story. We hope that you will find this resource to be intriguing and helpful for your classroom.

Please contact Daniel Mitchell if you have any questions or would like more information about using the Core Documents Curriculum in your classroom.

Saturday Webinar: Iran Hostage Crisis


| Open Player in New Window’s last Saturday Webinar for the 2017-18 school year, today we focused on the 444 day long crisis in which 52 American embassy workers were taken hostage by Iranian revolutionaries and held for over a year, bringing to a head conflict between that country’s new rulers and the United States, and likely contributing to the downfall of President Jimmy Carter. Relevant to the ongoing friction and sometimes hostility between the quasi-theocracy of Iran and the United States, this crisis ended with Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as president in January 1981, and has had ripples and repercussions since.

Access the archive page here

iTunes Podcast

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