Monthly Archives: June 2018

Core Documents: The Great Depression and New Deal


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The Great Depression and New Deal can be more easily understood by thinking of it as a story in six parts.

Today’s interview is with Dr. John Moser, Professor of History at Ashland University and editor of the Core Documents volume on the Great Depression and New Deal. A complex and multi-faceted event that played out over a more than a decade, it can be understood by thinking of it as having taken place in six parts, chronologically:

  1. Hoover and the Great Depression
  2. Hoover vs. Roosevelt: The Election of 1932
  3. Roosevelt First New Deal, 1932-1934
  4. Criticism of the New Deal
  5. Roosevelt’s Second New Deal, 1934-1936
  6. The New Deal in Decline, 1936-1938

John talks about how he went about selecting documents to fit this model, how the documents fit together, and how using these documents can greatly improve the quality and interest level in a unit on the Great Depression and New Deal.

The second volume of the American History and Government Core Document Collections – the Great Depression and the New Deal – is available on iTunes, Kindle, and PDFHard copies are also available for $10 each, which can be accessed through our Facebook store. Email for more information.

The Benefits of Team Teaching American History and Literature

It’s impossible to separate a culture’s literature from its history, yet every day, in classrooms across the country, the two subjects function in isolation. It’s easy to understand why: with an ever-increasing list of requirements and standards, teachers often find themselves scrambling to deliver basic instruction of their subject, let alone combine with another class. However, with the right planning, American history and literature teachers can team up to cohesively teach units. In the end, combining curriculum can give your students more educational bang for their buck. Making connections between two disciplines drives home the “how” and “why” questions of both.

Story Lovers

For today’s teens, popularly referred to as Generation Z, it’s all about story. They post their stories on social media. They shop brands that invest in marketing their own digital narratives. Their common literature is viral videos. And although today’s teens consume most of these stories on screen–whether through YouTube, Snapchat, or Twitter–they’re still spending the better part of their days immersed in story.

For students who love story, history can come alive through literature. According to a 2017 article in Forbes, “Gen Z students tend to thrive when they are given the opportunity to have a fully immersive educational experience and they even enjoy the challenges of being a part of it. For instance, 51% of surveyed students said they learn best by doing while only 12% said they learn through listening.” Learning history through story–for example, the Salem Witch Trials as portrayed in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, is a much more immersive experience than taking notes. By reading and visualizing characters and situations (or even better, acting out scenes), students participate in making meaning. The facts, and more importantly, how those facts influenced the evolution of American society, become embedded in a story many students will remember for life.

History Buffs

What about those students who prefer history to English class, the ones who do like memorizing dates and names but can’t seem to concentrate on a novel? For those who love the nuts and bolts of American history, the right literature can be a doorway to appreciating good storytelling. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, for example, is both a memoir and a treatise on the abolition of slavery, drawing readers into this dark portion of American history through detailed personal experience. This engaging autobiography can lead more reluctant readers to sample other historical narratives, such as The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, or Tim O’Brien’s semi-autobiographical The Things They Carried, which explores the personal horrors of fighting in the Vietnam War.

Bringing the Two Together

Team teaching American history and literature can be a powerful experience for both teachers and their students. Even when two classes aren’t able to team up throughout the year, just one or two special cross-curricular units can electrify key themes with unique literary voices. If you’re a history teacher working alone, you can still deliver content through the vehicles of narratives, poetry, plays, and essays as a way to enrich your students’ learning.

Teaching American History is offering two Summer History & Literature Seminars designed to help teachers of American history and American literature to examine historical documents and literary texts through the lenses of both disciplines. Each seminar will be taught by a historian or political scientist teamed with a literary scholar. Get inspired by history and story this summer, and learn how to inspire your students as well.

Register for Seminars in July

SYNOPSIS: When American history teachers and American literature teachers team up in the classroom, history and story are both enriched to create a dynamic learning experience great for every student.

Core American Documents: World War 2


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Today’s podcast includes an interview with Dr. Jennifer Keene, of Chapman University and president of the Society for Military History. Dr. Keene is the volume editor for our new World War 2 Core American Documents volume, and has some interesting things to say about how she went about selecting documents, trying to keep the number and length manageable, while trying to do such an enormous event as WW2, from multiple perspectives, the justice it deserves.

This volume of our Core American Documents Collections – World War 2 – is now available!

Get your copy on iTunesKindle, and PDFHard copies are also available for $10 each – email if you would like a copy. You can also buy it on Amazon!

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.

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