This site includes seven education modules created by the Library of Congress. The material explores the impact of religious belief upon the founding of the American colonies, in the shaping of early American life and politics, and in forming the American Republic. Each period includes short commentaries discussing relevant features and includes books, manuscripts, letters, artwork, and music from the Library’s collections.
Altogether more than 200 items are featured in the exhibit. The exhibit appears to be based on scholarship of the late 1990s and has probably not been updated to take into account more recent work. However, its information appears similar to that in current college-level American history textbooks on many topics, while other topics are included that rarely make the general textbooks.
Type of Material:
Teachers could use in lecture development
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Student will gain an appreciation of the role religion played in the immigration to America. • Students will improve their contextual awareness of US history • Students will understand how religion impacted politics in early American History.
Target Student Population:
College (Lower division)
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Necessary concepts would include the Reformation (an understanding of the terms Protestant, nonconformist, and dissenter) and some knowledge of how different European religious groups differed on doctrine. A fairly high level of vocabulary is used on the site, so good reading skills are needed.
Well written and easy to understand
Nice segmentation of eras
Good use of visual material to support commentaries
Some material has not been updated in several years
While the content is fairly wide-ranging and based on many primary sources, the authors of the exhibit do not provide any learning materials beyond the exhibit objects to aid teachers in using the materials, nor does it draw connections to modern debates about the role of religion in society and government.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Teachers who are capable of creating their own learning objectives and activities could incorporate aspects of the site into their teaching in many ways. Those who have a solid foundation in American history would probably have the best success at this.
Assignments are not integrated into resource material
Designed as a resource and not a teaching module.
Lacks pre-study material to define a level of knowledge and skill needed to understand and appreciate the objects in the exhibit, no learning activities provided, and no online support for teachers or students.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Highly intuitive design
Easy to use
Design is a bit uninspired
A few of the images of objects were not available when I accessed the site. However, in each case an icon appeared saying “This image is currently unavailable.”
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