Chronicling America and the U.S. News Map site would be useful tools that might allow students to take a more broad view of societal issues during the period in question (1836–1922). I’m thinking that range would be great for a unit on Reconstruction, or racial tensions from the Civil War through civil rights. Students could be presented with the tools and prompted to search relevant vocabulary (perhaps reconstruction, lynching, or confederate) and see who was talking about it and when. This could largely be self-directed (after learning the vocab), with maybe an assignment sheet asking a few open-ended questions about what they learned. This would be a great introduction to historical research.
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