Resources about the Civil War for Educators

The Education Department offers a variety of resources for K-12 educators related to the Civil War, including primary-source-based lesson plans, teacher workshops, and online resources.

Lesson Plans

Adams Family Foreign Policy: Letters and Diaries from Europe

Lesson Four is devoted to Charles Francis Adams and his work as minister to the Court of St. James in London. The letters, diary entries, and documents in this unit reveal Adams’s difficult task: keeping Great Britain—and by extension France and all Europe—out of the American Civil War.

The Massachusetts Civil War Experience (Coming Soon!)

Using songs, poems, letters, diaries, and recruiting posters, this curriculum unit explores the question of how and why men joined the Union Army, and the consequences of their decisions.

The Story of How Massachusetts Women Helped the Union Win the Civil War (Coming Soon!)

Based on primary sources describing the Massachusetts home front during the Civil War, much of this curriculum project centers on the experiences of women involved in the Women's Auxiliary of the U.S. Sanitary Commission.

Online Resources

Looking at the Civil War: Massachusetts Finds Her Voice

Between January 2011and April 2015 the MHS will post one Civil War related item per month to our website. The site will feature manuscript items, including letters, diaries, and other personal papers, discussing some aspect of the war.

The Case for Ending Slavery

This online project features more than 50 documents from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Library in Congress. Presented in pairs, the documents shed light on the complicated history of the end of slavery in Massachusetts and the nation.  The site includes educational resources including lesson plans, biographical sketches, and document-based-questions.

Teacher Workshops & Presentations

"The Civil War and the Quest for Citizenship"
August 2-4, 2011

Participants will investigate the beginning of the citizenship process and gain a deeper understanding of Massachusetts' role in the Civil War. Through a close examination of primary source documents from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society teachers will explore the development of Union recruitment and its effect on the soldiers and their community from several complementary perspectives. Participants will also will visit several locations at Boston Harbor Islands NRA with ties to the Civil War, including Fort Warren on Georges Island. Read more....

Teaching the Civil War
October 8, 2011

This regional teacher institute, sponored by the Civil War Institute, is a two-day professional development workshop for K-12 educators focused exclusively on the American Civil War and its relationship to Massachusetts. The program will include a session with MHS education staff, a copy of the Trust's Civil War Curriculum complete with 27 lesson plans, a tour of the Black Heritage Trail,and a tour of Fort Warren, led by the National Park Service. Visit the Civil War Trust website to learn more or to register.

To arrange a teacher workshop at the MHS, please call the Education Department at 617-646-0557 or email

Back to top