History can be absolutely fascinating–but it can be difficult to become excited about the subject matter when everyone involved is dead and the closest you get to the subject matter is your dull textbook. Thankfully, we have the internet to not only provide us with priceless vines, but also some fun history resources! Take a look at this list of some revolutionary digital resources. (Even I’m cringing at that pun. Forgive me.)
This series is fantastic if you’re looking for a learning source that won’t put you to sleep. I actually studied for my AP US History exam by watching the entire series. Yes. That’s right. All __ episodes. All 48 episodes. All nine hours. I am not sure I can recommend this method, but I can say that I got a 5 and that John Green’s voice echoed in my mind as I bubbled in my scantron. Not only does John Green have tons of resources for US History, but he’s also great for World History and “Big History,” or the history of everything. Check him out!
2. Smithsonian History Explorer
The website’s not the most intuitive, but the information here can be extremely helpful for anyone looking to interact digitally with history. You can examine artifacts up close and watch videos on the same material you’ve been reading about in your textbook. Watch the cotton gin in action or hear the great jazz composers for yourself! This can be a fun, easy supplement for learning, especially if textbook learning isn’t the best way for information to stick in your head.
3) Old Maps Online
You know that feeling you get when you’re alone, and you’re sipping your coffee, and you’re contemplating life’s intricacies, and you realize you really want to see an old map? It’s a pretty common feeling. Really. The Old Maps Online Portal is just the place to find, like, really old maps. You can gain access to high-quality historical maps from libraries around the world…and if you happen to have an old map lying around, you can add to the database yourself!
4) Digital History
This is an awesome resource for quick summaries of events in US history. This interactive timeline spans from the first Native-Americans to the 21st century. There are short summaries of important Supreme Court cases (a must-have if you’re studying for the AP test), printable quizzes on each unit, writing guides, digital stories, and even historic music. Pretty cool stuff.
5) Library of Congress
The Library of Congress sounds very far away from your US History classroom, but in reality, it’s super relevant and has tons of helpful resources. There are tons of neat little bits of history like original speeches and letters, old newspapers, maps, and film. This can be especially convenient if you’re working on a research project and are in need of primary resources.
This website is pretty simple and straightforward. It lists 100 milestone documents in US history from the National Archives. Not only can you see pictures of these original documents, but you can also read detailed summaries about each document and download the transcripts. The summaries can also link to further resources–convenient if you’re conducting research for a paper or project.
7) USA 20th Century History Game – free
Unlike the previous items in this list, this one is an app. USA 20th Century History Game is a game…about…USA 20th century history. This one’s just a fun app to download if you want to brush up on when events happened. The app’s major focus is the specific dates of events (something you might find useful during exams). You can test yourself on four levels (easy, core, hard, and advanced), and for some reason the app’s mascot is a turkey. Obviously the better version of Angry Birds.
8) Khan Academy
Khan Academy started out primarily as a math resource, but it’s since grown to include lots of subjects in the humanities, including history. Subjects include American Civics, Ancient and Medieval History, the Renaissance and Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Revolution, and the 20th century. The videos are super informative and easy to understand–check it out!
9) Wolfram Alpha
You might associate Wolfram Alpha with math and science, but surprisingly, it’s equally relevant with history. You can find the data range associated with a particular historical period and even compare different historical periods. You can compute the modern worth of a certain amount of money centuries ago. You can look up specific historic figures and battles and events–and while you won’t get any emotional context, you sure will get the numbers.
10) American Revolution Interactive Timeline – free
This is actually a really awesome app. Designed by the Museum of the American Revolution, the app is basically an interactive timeline of the Revolutionary War. You can learn about specific events, as well as detailed information about the artwork, weapons, clothing, objects, and manuscripts from the Museum’s collection. The graphics are beautiful, and the videos and podcasts are pretty engaging. The app is also “award-winning,” apparently, which must mean something good. Except when it comes to Bieber and stuff.