The EDSITEment site is a valuable resource for social studies, language arts, and art history teachers of any grade level. The site is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities in conjunction with the Council of the Great City Schools, MCI, and the National Trust for the Humanities.
A page called Top Humanities Websites links teachers with dozens of the most interesting and informative sites in their field. Links include the American Verse Project (http://www.hti.umich.edu/english/amverse), an electronic archive of poetry before 1920, and Oyez, Oyez, Oyez: the Supreme Court WWW Resource (http://oyez.at.nwu.edu).
Our favorite link, listed under three of the four categories, is the American Memory Project (http://memory.loc.gov), a Library of Congress site that offers a fascinating collection of resources such as photographs, documents, maps, motion pictures, and sound recordings. Through the Motion Pictures link, we were able to download and watch some of the earliest motion picture recordings, such as Edison’s “The Great Train Robbery,” an 11-minute silent film recorded in 1903.
The EDSITEment site also suggests ideas for using these resources to explore American culture. The lesson plans can be found on a page called Guides for Home and School. One example is “Images at War,” whose goal is to examine our changing attitudes toward war using Civil War photographs and WWII home front posters found on the American Memory page. The plans are designed with enough flexibility to be replicated in a variety of grade levels.