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Civil War Sabotage | History Detectives

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The steamship Sultana exploded without warning one night in 1865, killing 1,800 people. Was the disaster a result of Civil War sabotage? For additional background and information use the History Detectives Evaluating Abraham Lincoln lesson plan.

The Sixties | History Detectives

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The 1960s were an era of great cultural change in the United States. The Civil Rights movement was in full swing, the Vietnam War ignited protests across the country, and rock and roll was king of the charts. These lesson plans are based on History Detectives episodes that examine cultural artifacts from the Sixties, including a first-hand account of the Vietnam War written by a North Vietnamese soldier, Bob Dylan’s electric guitar, and an amp from Motown Record’s house bass player.

Using Primary Resources | History Detectives

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History is not a passive subject. Historians actively search out and analyze primary sources in order to tell the stories of our past. Behind those streamlined narratives are hundreds of messy sources. These lesson plans use primary sources utilized by the detectives in History Detectives to give students practice analyzing, questioning, and following up on information contained in a variety of primary sources.

Patent and Invention Research | History Detectives

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This History Detectives media gallery features a collection of resources illustrating research methodology for investigating patents and inventions.

Historical Document Research | History Detectives

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History Detective Tukufu Zuberi investigates a letter which indicates that thirty years before John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln, Booth’s father threatened to kill another sitting president, Andrew Jackson. The letter to Jackson reads, “You damn’d old scoundrel… …I will cut your throat whilst you are sleeping.” It’s signed “Junius Brutus Booth.” The writer insists Jackson pardon two men who were sentenced to death. Why did the fate of these two men enrage such fury? Was the Booth letter a hoax? Or does assassination run in the Booth blood?

Historical Weapons and Ballistics | History Detectives

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History Detectives stares down the barrel of a shotgun for clues that one of Al Capone’s men fired it in a Chicago gang massacre that shocked the nation. The gun came to our contributor’s family after it was handed down through two generations of prominent Chicago families. It’s a Western Field single-barreled repeating action 12-guage shotgun. The barrel and the stock were once shortened just the way the Capone gang liked its guns: easy to conceal and with more destructive force. History Detectives tests the gun’s firepower, consults with ballistics experts, and combs through physical evidence to see if the gun can be placed at the scene of the crime.

Family History | History Detectives

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Family stories are a rich window on the past. They can paint pictures of an important period in history through the experience, perspective, and memories of people who lived during that time. These lesson plans and videos, based on artifacts and family heirlooms featured in History Detectives episodes, offer students opportunities to dig deeper into their own family history. Through activities that emphasize genealogical research and oral history interviews, students can begin to discover and access new information about themselves—as well as acquire the skills required to become history detectives in their own right.

Civil War Research | History Detectives

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Winter, 1865: the final stages of General Sherman’s bloody march through the south. On February 17th, the capital city of Columbia, South Carolina lies squarely in the General’s crosshairs. In a last-ditch effort to protect the vital railroad hub and the thousands of terrified refugees packing city streets, Confederate soldiers destroy the remaining bridge over the Broad River. The reprieve is temporary. In less than 12 hours Sherman’s men will cross the river and bring destruction to the birthplace of the Sucessionist south. Nearly a century and a half after these dramatic events, David Brinkman of Columbia, South Carolina, believes a long-standing marker commemorating this history has missed the mark. History Detectives host Elyse Luray goes to Columbia to examine the evidence and see if this discovery will redraw the maps of the Civil War.

Family History and Genealogical Research | History Detectives

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This History Detectives collection of resources illustrates the research methodology for investigating genealogy and family history.

Historical Research | History Detectives

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By the middle of the 19th century, a vast new territory from New Mexico all the way to California beckoned settlers and homesteaders. But as their wagon trains rumbled west from Missouri, along major arteries such as the Santa Fe Trail, they cut through the heart of Indian country and came under frequent attack. More than a century and a half after these violent events, History Detectives takes a closer look at an old paper that shows President Millard Fillmore engaged in what appears to be an unusual act for the time - sparing the life of a Native American convicted of murder. In the paper the President commutes the death sentence to life in prison for a solitary Native American named See-See-Sah-Mah, convicted of murdering a St. Louis trader along the Santa Fe Trail. Fillmore’s pardon saved See-See-Sah-Mah’s life, but why?

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