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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

November 12th: 10th Class

Creating an American Identity: American Art of the 19th and 20th Centuries


This American Identity lesson illustrates the events of the 1800s and early 1900s that shaped how Americans perceived themselves. This lesson is recommended for high school classes studying United States history and culture of the 19th and 20th centuries.


Description: This online gallery facilitates the exploration of art that depicts the events of the 1800s and early 1900s in America to help students as they learn about this "American identity" that developed. Through this lesson, students will discover how important events in history such as the Civil War, westward expansion, immigration, the World Wars, and the Great Depression shaped the American identity that is perpetuated today. Students will also look at these events from a broader spectrum and see how they impacted America's role in international relations.

Learning Goals:

In exploring this lesson, students will:

- Discover how American identity was shaped by the events of the 1800s and early 1900s such as the Civil War, westward expansion, World War I, the Great Depression, immigration, and World War II.

- Consider the role of cultural objects in understanding how people lived and how their sense of identity was affected social and political events

This discovery will require students to:

- Look closely and make visual observations about art

- Express their ideas and share them with either peers

- Generate hypotheses and observations based on prior knowledge of history and social sciences.


Related Resources

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