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.
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.
Using this Resource:
- Social Studies teachers will be interested in the connections between the events of the 19th and 20th centuries in United States history and the images in the gallery.
- Arts teachers will be interested in the examination of the history of art in America from 1800 to 1945 and its relevance to the politics and social events of the time.
For relevant supplementary materials and classroom activities, refer to the web links posted under Related Resources at the bottom of this page.
The objects in this lesson are just a beginning. We encourage you to explore the Museum's online collection through this web resource—or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries—to look for other objects that will provide further insights into this topic.