Discover dynamic education programs and curriculum resources about the history of our city, state, and nation.

Education Mission

The New-York Historical Society Education Division provides dynamic programming and curriculum resources for students and teachers in New York and beyond. Historical study sparks curiosity and creativity, promotes cultural understanding, and fosters an empowered citizenry to strengthen our democracy. Our staff of passionate professionals draws on our world-renowned collections to engage learners of all ages in the study of our collective past.


Education programs made possible through endowments established by:
National Endowment for the Humanities
The Hearst Foundations
The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation

Public funding provided by:
Institute for Museum and Library Services
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council
New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature

Important support provided by:
Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Ford Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Altman Foundation
Deutsche Bank
The Pinkerton Foundation
Barker Welfare Foundation
The Keith Haring Foundation
The Bay and Paul Foundations
The Alice Lawrence Foundation
The Henry Nias Foundation
Fred and Joan Pittman


Support the New-York Historical Society

Help us present groundbreaking exhibitions and develop educational programs about our nation's history for more than 200,000 schoolchildren annually.


Explore all the New-York Historical Society-created curriculum materials, which align with New York State Learning Standards and contain lesson plans and primary sources (documents, photos, maps and more). Materials are available digitally and/or for purchase in hard copy, as indicated in the list below.


The Vietnam War: 1945-1975 Curriculum

In conjunction with our exhibition, this curriculum considers one of the major turning points—and most controversial events—of the 20th century: the Vietnam War. Spanning the duration of U.S. involvement in the region, The Vietnam War: 1945-1975 examines the perspectives and experiences of those on the war front and the home front to facilitate understanding of one of the most complex chapters in American history.

The classroom materials include eight clusters that focus on important themes and topics from the exhibition, such as the Cold War, the draft, military campaigns initiated by both sides, the growth of the antiwar movement, the role of the president, and the loss of political consensus. Through a chronological and thematic approach, this curriculum encourages a broad discourse about the conflict’s causes, conduct, and consequences.

Click here to download the curriculum.



Saving Washington: The New Republic and Early Reformers, 1790-1860

The first installment of Women and the American Story

Saving Washington: The New Republic and Early Reformers, 1790-1860 examines women’s roles in the early American republic, focusing on the ways that elite and non-elite women sought to define and influence what the new nation would become. The first module in this curriculum, Unofficial Politician: Dolley Madison in Washington, recasts the traditional Founding Fathers narrative to focus on the contributions of women like Dolley Madison—whose informal politicking used social gatherings and prescribed domestic roles to help realize the Constitution “on the ground.” The curriculum’s second module, Breaking the Rules: Women Reformers, 1800-1860, explores the decades before the Civil War, when a surprising number of women ignored strict rules about female behavior to lead and energize the era’s reform movements.

This curriculum is part of the planned nine unit Women and the American Story U.S. history survey curriculum. When complete, the project will span the full scope of American history, connecting teachers and their students to a trove of resources that highlight women’s roles in the nation’s story.  

Click here to visit the curriculum website.
Click here to download the curriculum.


New World - New Netherland - New York

Discover New York’s colonial past with New World – New Netherland – New York. This brand new curriculum explores the Age of Discovery, the Dutch colonial period, and the English colonial period through primary sources—including materials that have never before been translated or published for a wider audience. Divided into three units, this guide is arranged so that teachers may pick and choose resources to deepen and enliven their lessons. Also included are background essays, questions for the classroom, and life stories that augment understandings of the interactions between New York’s Native American and earliest Dutch, African, and British inhabitants. 

Click here to download the curriculum.


AIDS in New York: The First Five Years

AIDS in New York: The First Five Years examines the AIDS epidemic from 1980 to 1985 and explores the fear and hysteria that followed the AIDS outbreak. The exhibition highlights the power of fear and the frustration felt by those affected by AIDS as well as the steps taken to find treatment and a cure and provide support. AIDS in New York: The First Five Years tells the story of AIDS through artifacts and photographs that capture the immense grief felt by affected communities; news broadcasts desperate to give any information; advertisements for events organized by grassroots groups demanding attention; and much more.

Learn about the disease in our Science Behind AIDS section and explore the energy in New York City at the beginning of the health crisis through the photographs, audio clips, and life stories in our Sights and Sounds section.

Click here to visit curriculum website.


Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America

Get to know New York’s favorite Founding Father Alexander Hamilton: a statesman and visionary whose life inspired discussion and controversy and shaped the America we live in today. This site offers teacher materials and links to exhibition highlights.

Click here to view online exhibition.



The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution

In 1913, the International Exhibition of Modern Art (nicknamed the Armory Show) came to New York and forever changed the way Americans thought about art. These materials place this epic exhibit in its historical context in five units: Observing the Urban American Scene; The Spirit of Modernism: A New Way of Looking; The Spirit of the Painting: Expressive Use of Color, Line, and Shape; Modernism in New York, 1913; and Armory Art in the Social Studies Classroom. In total, they contain 40 primary sources, including reproductions of some of the most iconic works from the 1913 Armory Show, as well as documents, photographs, film, music, and ephemera from the time; life stories of influential figures; lesson ideas; and more.

Click here to download the curriculum materials.


The Battle of Brooklyn

On August 27, 1776, on the marshy fields of Gowanus and Red Hook, George Washington and his ragtag army of untrained soldiers fought the Royal Army, one of the most powerful military forces in the world. The rebels were ingloriously defeated. The first major armed campaign for the colonies after declaring independence from Great Britain, the Battle of Brooklyn stands as the largest single battle of the Revolutionary War. Yet because it is a story of defeat and retreat, it does not occupy the same place in American history as the narratives of the more famous battles of Bunker Hill, Saratoga, or Yorktown. The Battle of Brooklyn curriculum is made up of three units that introduce the pivotal events and players of 1776 New York through the build up of troops, the battle itself, and the consequences of defeat. Materials include fourteen resources made up of twenty primary images, documents, and maps; seven life stories; lesson ideas; and discussion questions.

Click here to download the curriculum.


Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion

What does it means to be an American? Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion explores this question as it chronicles the long and complex history of Chinese Americans in the United States. The exhibition and educational materials highlight more than 200 years of stories form across the nation, many of which connect directly with some of the most compelling themes in American history: immigration, American identity, westward expansion, racism and nativism, the importance of work and workers, and the power of individuals' stories.

Click here to Download:
Curriculum Materials
Pre-Visit Activity
Post-Visit Activity


The DiMenna Children's History Museum

The DiMenna Children's History Museum is a great tool for teachers as well as a unique learning opportunity for students. Our curriculum will prepare your students to explore the museum with an understanding of how historians work to help us learn about the past, and highlights a variety of people, eras, and events in New York and American history. Included in the curriculum:

  • Life stories provide more context, chart the historic figure’s life from child to adult and share key relatable moments from their history that connect to New York and the nation’s history,
  • Primary sources highlight objects from New-York Historical's collection, support the content in the life stories, and suggest objects for classroom investigation,
  • Lesson plans provide structured learning opportunities and suggested questioning strategies that directly relate to individual life stories,
  • Pre- and post-visit activities provide a variety of classroom projects to prepare your students to become history detectives at the DiMenna Children's History Museum, as well as how to extend the museum’s themes into your classroom after your visit.

Click here to download the curriculum


Examination Days: The New York African Free School Collection

In 1787, at a time when slavery was crucial to the prosperity and expansion of New York, the New York African Free School was created by the New York Manumission Society, a group dedicated to advocating for the rights of African Americans. What began as a single-room schoolhouse with forty students expanded to educate thousand of children in New York City’s public school system. The New-York Historical Society’s New York African Free School Collection preserves a rich selection of student work and community commentary about the school from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and includes lesson plans for the classroom.

Click here for curriculum materials.


Grant and Lee in War and Peace

Casting a dramatic new light on the events that defined a nation, from the conflicts and rivalries of a fast-growing young republic to the fitful efforts at reconstruction after a terrible Civil War, the New-York Historical Society presents the major exhibition Grant and Lee in War and Peace from October 17, 2008 through March 29. 2009. The exhibition is organized by the New-York Historical Society in collaboration with the sister project of Lee and Grant, and they share many objects. Lee and Grant was organized by the Virginia Historical Society in partnership with the New-York Historical Society, Washington and Lee University, the Museum of the Confederacy, the Civil War and Underground Railroad Museum of Philadelphia, Arlington—the Robert E. Lee Memorial, and Stratford Hall—the Birthplace of Robert E. Lee. Lee and Grant was made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities: great ideas brought to life.

Grant and Lee in War and Peace explores the most critical decades in American history through the lives of two towering men. By telling the stories of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), commander of the Union armies and later 18th President of the United States, and of Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), commander of the Confederate forces, the exhibition brings to life not only these two compelling figures but the forces that have shaped America, in their time and our own.

Click here to download the curriculum materials.


Nation at the Crossroads: The Great New York Debate Over the Constitution

This exhibition of letters, newspapers, pamphlets, and portraits documents the lively and dramatic debate over the ratification of the Constitution in New York State. Embedded in the debate was the persistent question of slavery, as well as critical issues of government and rights that are still relevant today. This site includes primary documents and images, as well as interviews with contemporary scholars and lesson plans.

Click here to download lesson plans.


Lincoln in New York

Abraham Lincoln—the quintessential pioneer—owed much of his national political success to his impact on the eastern state of New York—and, in turn, New York’s impact on him. This exhibition of original artifacts, iconic images, and hand-written period documents, many in Lincoln’s own hand, for the first time fully traces the evolution of Lincoln’s relationship with the nation’s largest and wealthiest state: from the time of his triumphant Cooper Union address here in 1860, to his efforts to hold the Union together in 1861, to the early challenges of recruitment and investment in the Civil War, to the development of new military technologies, and the challenge to civil liberties in time of war. Lincoln’s evolving stance on slavery issues alternately please and infuriated New Yorkers. African Americans, many of them veterans of the anti-slavery movement and Underground Railroad participants, saw Lincoln as slow to deal with the numerous slaves escaping during the war. These “contraband” forces clamored to join the Union Army which for several years excluded colored troops—be they free men or the newly freed. Meanwhile free black New Yorkers readied volunteer regiments.

New York’s role as the Union’s prime provider of manpower, funding, media coverage, image-making, and protest is traced alongside Lincoln’s concurrent growth as a leader, writer, symbol of Union and freedom, and ultimately as national martyr. Through all, from political parades to funeral processions, as this show demonstrates, New York played a surprisingly central role in the Lincoln story—and Lincoln became a leading player in the life of New York. This exhibition commemorates the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial. 

Click here to download the curriculum materials.


New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War

Slavery ended in New York State in 1827, yet this victory did not sever the city's connections to enslaved labor. New York City capitalized on the expanding trade in southern cotton and sugar to become the leading American port, a global financial center, and a hotbed of pro-slavery politics. At the same time, it nurtured a determined anti-slavery movement. New York Divided explores the turbulent half-century of the city's history with southern slavery. These materials include a teachers’ guide, primary sources and Life Stories.

Click here to download the curriculum.


Nueva York: 1613–1945

Discover the vital role the Spanish-speaking world played and continues to play in New York City’s trade, politics and culture through investigating artifacts and artwork from the exhibition Nueva York: 1613–1945, organized in collaboration with El Museo del Barrio. These materials include a teachers’ guide, primary sources, Life Stories, and a visual arts unit.

Click here to download the curriculum


Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn

Revolution! explores the enormous transformations in the world’s politics that took place from 1763-1815, with particular attention to three globally influential revolutions in America, France, and Haiti. Linking the attack on monarchism and aristocracy to the struggle against slavery, Revolution!shows how freedom, equality, and the sovereignty of the people became universal goals. Activists in these conflicts invented the notions of human rights that still fire the desire for justice everywhere.

Click here to download the curriculum materials.


Seneca Village

Seneca Village was Manhattan’s first significant community of African American property owners. The village was razed for the construction of Central Park and its history has been largely forgotten. Uncover the story of this 19th century village of free blacks and Irish and German immigrants using the primary source documents provided in this curriculum guide. Divided into seven parts, the guide is arranged so that teachers may choose which kinds of primary sources they wish to approach and in what order. The guide also includes lesson introductions, questions for classroom discussion, a list of key words, and suggested activities.

Click here to download the curriculum materials.


Silicon City: Computer History Made in New York

Long before Silicon Valley became synonymous with all things digital, New York was a hub for imagining, developing, and selling the technology that ultimately reshaped our world.Silicon City: Computer History Made in New Yorktraces the history of this technological revolution, highlighting more than a century of stories from many sectors of the tech industry, and reveals how pioneering individuals from our own backyard made New York the epicenter of the transformation of computers from laboratory tools to consumer products. Resources include eleven primary and secondary images and texts; five life stories; one film; lesson ideas for social studies, technology, and visual arts; discussion questions; and a poster.

Click here to view the curriculum.


Slavery in New York

New York was the capital of American slavery for more than two centuries. These materials explore slavery in New York from the 1600s to 1827, when slavery was legally abolished in New York State. They focus on the rediscovery of the collective and personal experiences of Africans and African Americans in New York City. These curriculum materials include a teachers’ guide, charts and graphs, primary sources, maps, and Life Stories.


Click here for curriculum materials.


Vergara’s Harlem

This curriculum guide introduces the life and work of Camilo José Vergara. Photographing urban communities in American cities, Vergara creates a visual portrait of urban decline and renewal over a span of 40 years, sharing a unique perspective on our relationship to the built environment. Activities in this resource provide educators and students with an opportunity to examine the connections between an individual’s personal story and the way that story can shape and influence one’s life work. We invite you to participate in Vergara’s Harlem and share these images and Vergara’s story with your students.

Click here to download the curriculum.



When World War II broke out, New York was a cosmopolitan, heavily immigrant city whose people had real stakes in the war and strongly held opinions. WWII & NYC explores the war's impact on the metropolis, which played a critical role in the national war effort, and how the city was forever changed. Using primary documents, images, and documentary film clips, your students will discover how wartime changed New York.

Click here to download the curriculum.


Creative: Tronvig Group