The first census of the United States began on August 2, 1790 and took months to complete. The purpose of the census was to count the people of the United States to determine apportionment in the U.S. House of Representatives. Relatively few questions asked in the first census, but it reveals a great deal about the population of the newly established country. Using the census data to create thematic maps reveals patterns and trends that were emerging in early America. This lesson was designed for high school students, but could be easily adapted for younger students. More
This illustration from Harper's Weekly is particularly interesting because of the African American man in the background. Though stereotypically rendered, his presence is indicative of the major shift in population that occurred between the 1860 and 1870 censuses: four million enslaved people were freed. Being counted in the census as a full, independent person was one sign of a growing equality under the law. More
"I, A. B. marshal of the district of ______ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will well and truly cause to be made, a just and perfect enumeration and description of all persons resident within my district, and return the same to the President of the United States, agreeably to the directions of an act of Congress, intituled 'An act providing for the enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States,' according to the best of my ability."
Oath for census takers, from "An ACT providing for the enumemtion of the Inhabitants of the United States," 1770.
Colonial Williamsburg's tradespeople help two teams of students in a race against the clock to help the Continental Army! Quirky "Professor Eddie" is back again, highlighting how students use their math skills to make shirts, bread, cartridge boxes, and more.More
After closely reading the narrative of a Chinese immigrant who arrived in 1868, students compare that narrative with the stories of other immigrants, and examine multiple perspectives on Chinese immigration by American writers and artists. The unit culminates in guided narrative writing. More
At its heart, America is an idea. What keeps this idea vibrant? Debate. The Idea of America is a digital U.S. history program that presents our nation's rich history through an original framework that views America as an enduring "Great Debate."
The Idea of America is a standards-based, supplemental program you can integrate with your current history curriculum. It comprises 65 case studies-using multimedia and interactive elements-that make primary-source content relevant to today's learners and encourage active citizenship. More