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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.


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

Public funds are provided by
Institute of Museum and Library Services
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer
New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature

Education programs at New-York Historical receive generous support from
Gillian V. and Robert Steel
Pine Tree Foundation of New York
Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation
Stavros Niarchos Foundation
Altman Foundation
The Hearst Foundation, Inc.
Sherri and Darren Cohen
Deutsche Bank
Onassis Foundation USA
Rice Family Foundation
Susan Waterfall
Robie and Scott Spector
Keith Haring Foundation
Con Edison
Alan Shuch and Leslie Himmel
Richard Reiss
Barker Welfare Foundation
Consulate General of the Netherlands
Dan W. Lufkin
Susan and Robert E. Klein
The Michael Tuch Foundation
Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation
GWG Foundation
Placer Partners and Ray Lent, Managing Partner
Henry Nias Foundation
an anonymous donor


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



The Academy for American Democracy
at the New-York Historical Society

“It was the best week, the best time we spent all school year. I left the experience feeling like I was a part of something big. The students did something really significant for the four days.
They are dying to do it again.”
—Pilot Teacher, Wagner Middle School

The New-York Historical Society is proud to announce the Academy for American Democracy, a new educational initiative focusing on history and civics education for the sixth grade.

What is the Academy for American Democracy?

“Before the Academy, I had heard the word democracy but I never knew what it meant. Now I know what it is and why it’s so important to us as Americans.”
—Pilot Student, Wagner Middle School

For four exciting days, your sixth-grade students will attend the Academy for American Democracy in the extraordinary environment of the New-York Historical Society. They will learn how the concept of democracy, crafted by ancient Athenians, inspired the American founders, and trace the evolution of American democracy from the Declaration of Independence to the present day.

Classes in residency will explore our galleries and engage in close examination of artifacts, art, and documents to build content knowledge and deepen their understanding of the history of democracy. Through experiential learning, art-making, writing, and theater activities, your students will be immersed in a process of creative discovery to help them understand the value of active civic participation.

“Democracy is important because it helps people let their voice out without feeling uncomfortable.
You have power too, and everyone has a say.”
—Pilot Student, New Design Middle School

What will my students learn?

“When we got to debate it made the topics feel important, and we learned how to persuade.”
—Pilot Student, Urban Assembly Academy for Future Leaders

Students participating in the Academy for American Democracy will seek the answers to three
Essential Questions:

  • What is a democracy?
  • How does a democracy work?
  • How do disenfranchised people make change in a democracy?

To answer these questions, students will critically examine democracy as it was practiced in ancient Athens, as it was adapted at the United States’ founding, and as it has been reshaped in the centuries since. They will use primary and secondary sources to consider how and why democracy has changed over time, determine whether democracy can endure, and explore their own role as civic actors.

The Academy for American Democracy supports the New York City Curriculum Standards and Initiatives.

Sixth Grade Social Studies Scope and Sequence:

      Civics for All:

  • Comparing and contrasting civilizations and political systems
  • Characteristics and merits of a golden age
  • Cultural achievements’ influence on contemporary societies
  • Foundations of American government
  • Rights and responsibilities
  • Role of the individual
  • Power and politics
  • Active engagement

See a sample of our four-day schedule here.

“I learned how important voting is. We have to speak up for ourselves and have our own opinions.
We have to think long and hard about them.”
—Pilot Student, New Design Middle School

How will my students benefit?

“It was powerful because it was new, it was out of the classroom, it was exciting!”
—Pilot Teacher, Wagner Middle School

In the New-York Historical Society’s inspiring spaces, students will be empowered to ask big questions, think critically, and take an active role in the political world around them. At the end of the residency, participating students will create a poster series that synthesizes what they learned so that they can share with the larger school community.

“My favorite part of the Academy was dressing up in togas and voting. We got to actually live
the experience of ancient Athens.”
—Student, Urban Assembly Academy for Future Leaders

How will my teachers benefit?

“The Academy for American Democracy has changed the way I teach ancient Greece.”
—Pilot Teacher

Teachers are invited to participate in the Academy for American Democracy Professional Learning Community, where they will come together with scholars and museum professionals to dive deeply into history and political theory. Over the course of three full-day workshops, they will study how the ideals and realities of democracy played out in ancient Athens, at the founding of the United States, and in American political and social movements across time. They will be challenged to craft effective lessons for their specific classrooms that integrate the teaching of content with concepts. CTLE hours are provided.

“I have learned so much more about democracy and using our voice to make change. I truly enjoyed all of the amazing sources you have brought in for us! I really feel like I have grown as a learner on the topics of both classical and current civilizations.”
—Pilot Teacher

What does a school need to contribute?
Thanks to generous donations, we are able to provide this $5,500 program free of charge, including the cost of transportation to/from school as well as snacks. The school is responsible for the following:

  • At least one certified teacher must be with the students at all times, including lunch. Teachers must play an active supporting role in classroom management and student engagement.
  • At least one qualified adult chaperone for every 10 students at all times.
  • Student lunches.
  • Schools must arrange and coordinate their own transportation. We will reimburse for transportation costs within four weeks of completion of the Academy, up to $3,200.
  • Permission slips and photo releases for all participating students must be secured before the first day.
  • Participating teachers must complete all surveys and evaluation forms within two weeks of the last day of the Academy.

How can my school participate?
All Spring 2020 slots have been filled. School year 2020-2021 applications will be posted here in late spring.

“In a democracy, the choice you make can affect how you and others live. When you have the option to make a choice, you can’t take it for granted.”
—Pilot Student, Wagner Middle School

Creative: Tronvig Group