Friday, February 13, 2004

Jefferson's Children : The Story of One American Family

Jefferson's Children : The Story of One American Family. This is a review of the book by Shannon Lanier. It is reviewed by Julie Lorenzen.

From the review:

Shannon Lanier, author of Jefferson's Children: The Story of One American Family, has always wanted to tell people that he is the sixth great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings. However, until recently, he has had trouble getting people to believe him. The idea that a descendant of a slave is related to our third U.S. President has been controversial. It also didn't help that Lanier's family didn't have any historical documents to back up their claim because records of slaves are rare.

For example when Lanier, who is black, stood up on President's Day and told his first-grade class he was a descendant of Thomas Jefferson, his teacher called him a liar. The history books did not recognize the relationship between Hemings and Jefferson and all Lanier had as proof was an Oral History passed down from generation to generation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Teaching the 20th-Century History of the United States.

Teaching the 20th-Century History of the United States. This essay reviews ways that teachers can teach about the 20th Century in class.

From the site:

It is important to reaffirm the teaching of recent United States history in secondary schools. Diane Ravitch and Chester E. Finn (1987, 84) state this well: "If we think it important that they [17-year-old students of 1986] understand the three decades between the Second World War and their own sixth birthdays [in 1975], we cannot expect this instructional job to be done for them by the daily newspapers or the nightly news; we have to teach this period as the history that it now is." Unfortunately, there are several obstacles to teaching this period of history, including time constraints, student apathy for the subject, and limited help from textbooks.

This ERIC Digest (1) examines the coverage of 20th-century United States history; (2) discusses the consequences of limited coverage for student learning; (3) provides ideas on improvement of teaching and learning 20th-century United States history; and (4) lists ERIC resources dealing with all these facets of the topic.


Most students study U.S. history in the 8th and 11th grades. The study of U.S. history tends to remain at these grades in the reform reports, including the HISTORY-SOCIAL SCIENCE FRAMEWORK FOR CALIFORNIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS, the recommendations of the Bradley Commission on Teaching History in Schools, and the findings of the National Commission on Social Studies in the Schools, reported in CHARTING A COURSE.

The California Framework clearly divides United States history into two separate, yet linked courses. In the 8th grade, students study the Constitution to World War I, followed in the 11th grade with a continuation, focusing primarily on 20th-century United States history, following a required review of the previous course. One of the Bradley Commission's recommendations is that 8th-grade students study United States history through the Civil War and 11th-grade students continue the study of United States history after 1865. The National Commission on Social Studies in the Schools report, CHARTING A COURSE, suggests 8th-grade students study the United States, with a world view, and in the 11th grade, students concentrate on world and American history and geography since 1900.

Monday, February 09, 2004

The Lost Roanoke Colony

The Lost Roanoke Colony This is a look at the mystery that pervades the first colony at Roanoke, Virginia. It is a nice overview I think. (I am the author.) I have learned that this paper gets plagiarized a lot. I have seen it at those online paper mills. I really should sue.

From the site:

The first effort made by the English to establish a colony in America, occurred in the late sixteenth century, at Roanoke Island. Starting in 1584 efforts were made to explore the east coast of North America as far south as Spanish claims. It was in 1587 that a permanent colony was finally created. However great this accomplish was for the colonists and England, it proved to be one of the greatest American mysteries when the colony was discovered abandoned in 1590.

Roanoke Island is an island just off the coast of present day North Carolina. The Albemarle Sound, Croatan Sound, Roanoke Sound, and the Pamlico Sound are four bodies of water that surround the island. The Atlantic Ocean is less than ten miles away from Roanoke on it's eastern coast, but direct contact with the ocean is impeded by a strip of land called Bodie Island, which is part of the Outer Banks. The western coast of the Island is also less than ten miles from the mainland of North Carolina.

The history of the settlement can be found in England's increasing interest in laying claim to a portion of the New World during the late 1570's. This interest was even more apparent, when in the same decade, Queen Elizabeth encouraged exploration and settlement of new lands by issuing charters for this task, and it was during this time period when Roanoke Island was discovered by the English. However it was not until March 25, 1584 when the significant history of Roanoke was made with the re-issuing of the charter to Sir Walter Raleigh.

It was the responsibility of Raleigh to make the necessary provisions to complete the journeys to the New World and accomplish the goals of the charter. This meant hiring ship captains and their crews, recruiting possible colonists, purchasing food and other supplies, and finding those who would invest capital in the missions. Raleigh however does not actively participate in the journeys to Roanoke Island; he was just the organizer and major financier.