A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Lesson Plans

The Civil War and the Quest for U.S. Citizenship

The lesson plans were developed by participants in our 2011 Civil War Teacher Workshop, co-sponsored by the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. Participants were asked to create classroom activities that combined documents from the Society's collections with the landscapes of the Harbor Islands, including Georges Island and Fort Warren. The lessons that follow are grouped according to grade level:

Middle School

High School


Massachusetts and Slavery: A Complex History

Coming soon!

Matthew Johnson taught social studies at South Shore Vocational Technical High School in Hanover, Massachusetts. His curriculum unit explores the complex history of slavery in Massachusetts from the 1630s to 1860. He uses primary sources to explore topics such as the early abolitionist debate between Samuel Sewall and John Saffin; runaway slaves, personal liberty laws, and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850; and reactions in Massachusetts to the Kansas-Nebraska Bill and the caning of Senator Charles Sumner.

Massachusetts and Slavery, 1630-1860

Coming soon!

Craig Perrier is the Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator for History at Virtual High School Global Consortium, and he has also taught history at Billerica (Massachusetts) High School. His curriculum unit provides teachers and students with suggested discussion prompts, writing assignments, and research topics using primary sources featured on this website.