Brooklyn Historical Society
Bring Brooklyn Historical Society’s museum and archival collections to your classroom with these free online curricula and resources. You will need Acrobat Reader to open PDF files.
Curricula and Resources
Please note that our curricula contain high-resolution images of primary sources, which has made some of the PDF files quite large. Please be patient! If you encounter any errors, please contact us at email@example.com.
Bats, Balls, Nets and Hoops: Stories of Sports in Brooklyn
The history of sports in Brooklyn provides an intriguing window on enduring issues in American history, from civil rights to urbanization. Using case studies examining baseball legend Jackie Robinson, 1940s African-American track star Mary DeSaussure Sobers, Prospect Park as a locus of play and basketball’s roots in Brooklyn long before the Nets, these lessons will build upon children's fascination with sports to explore the way athletics have always been more than simple games. Learn more about Bats, Balls, Nets, and Hoops: Stories of Sports in Brooklyn by clicking on the image below.
The Civil War: Voices from Brooklyn
This curriculum was developed in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and highlights collections from Brooklyn Historical Society and Green-Wood Cemetery. These letters, cartes de visite, wartime illustrations, and broadsides document visual and print communication made by and for Brooklynites during the American Civil War. They have been paired with adaptable handouts and strategies for critical thinking across the humanities and social sciences, designed for grades 4 – 12.
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Created Equal: Image, Sound, Story
The BHS education department collaborated with the Jacob Burns Film Center to develop a Civil Rights curriculum, Created Equal: Image, Sound, Story. It uses Stanley Nelson’s Freedom Riders film as a basis for an integrated media arts and social studies curriculum designed to inspire middle school students to make connections between civil rights activism they see today with that of 1960s-era Civil Rights activists, and to place it all in a context of the Black Freedom Movement in America. Explore the project website:
Dutch Breukelen: Where Brooklyn Began
This curriculum designed for grades 2 – 8 transforms your classroom into a learning lab about seventeenth-century Brooklyn. With primary sources including maps, diaries, cookbooks, account ledgers, and drawings, Dutch Breukelen: Where Brooklyn Began contains resources and prompts that will spark and engage the curiosity of students about the origins of New York’s most populous borough.
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Exploring Pre-Revolutionary New York: the Ratzer Map
Ingenious Innovations at BLDG 92
In this guide, you will find detailed lesson plans to help your class explore the history of innovations and innovators that have left their mark on the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The lessons, interactive games, and class activities can be used before and after you bring your class on an "Ingenious Innovations" tour of BLDG 92 or as a stand-alone introduction to innovation at this "Can Do" Yard. Grades 2 and up.
There are two versions available, depending on your technical needs:
Click to view an interactive version for SMART Board or computer classroom:
Click to download the PDF:
Have you brought your class to BLDG 92? Download this activity to have your class create a flipbook of Dry Dock 1 in action.
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In Pursuit of Freedom
Visit pursuitoffreedom.org to find a variety of creative and engaging strategies designed to introduce students to the history of abolitionism and anti-slavery activism in nineteenth century Brooklyn. The Teacher Resources section was designed as a flexible resource, adaptable for students in grades 4 – 12. Filled with primary sources, this curriculum traces the gradual unfolding of Brooklyn’s role in the anti-slavery movement from the end of the American Revolution to the early days of Reconstruction through census records, anti-slavery and local newspapers, maps and more. Three of Brooklyn’s leading cultural and educational institutions – Brooklyn Historical Society, Weeksville Heritage Center, and Irondale Ensemble Project –have come together to re-examine this major chapter in U.S. history.
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Explore TeachArchives.org, an innovative new resource for teachers, administrators, librarians, archivists, and museum educators of students from middle school to college level. It offers sample exercises and informative articles based on a directed, hands-on approach to teaching in the archives.
It also includes extensive project documentation of Students and Faculty in the Archives (SAFA), a three-year post-secondary educational grant at Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS). The project partnered with 18 faculty at 3 colleges within walking distance of BHS. From 2011 to 2013, SAFA brought over 1,100 students to BHS’s archives to analyze original documents. Independent evaluators have found that SAFA students are more engaged and perform better than their peers in non-SAFA classes.
Discover the rich variety of teaching resources available to anyone interested in integrating archives into their teaching!
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Voices of Mixed Heritage: Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations
Voices of Mixed Heritage: Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations is an interdisciplinary curriculum designed for grades 6–12. We invite students and educators to engage with the topic of mixed heritage and identity in the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Students will investigate the voices and representation of those who identify as mixed-heritage individuals through oral histories, archival primary sources, popular culture references, and contextualizing secondary sources. This will allow them to unpack complex political concepts such as race, racism, identity, equity, and self-determination.
Click to access the full curriculum:
Curriculum Kits and Guides
Ready-To-Teach History Lessons: BHS Curriculum Kits
Our unparalleled curriculum kits are designed to give teachers everything they need to plan units on history topics, from innovative lesson plans that draw on primary sources to a comprehensive teacher's guide and laminated images and materials for in-class activities. Designed for use year-after-year, the materials are packaged in an easy-to-store, briefcase-style box. All kits are $99 (free shipping). To order, please call 718.222.4111, extension 288.
Brooklyn Navy Yard: Past, Present, Future Grades 6-12
From its origins as a shipbuilding site to its recent rebirth as a modern urban industrial center, the Brooklyn Navy Yard's evolution has reflected major themes in American history, from industrialization and urbanization to civil rights and environmentalism. This kit, with lesson plans for eight class sessions, includes a range of primary source documents, from photos to oral histories.
History Hunters: Seeking the Industrial Age Grades 7-12
Explore with your class some of the major narratives in American history - from the drama of mass immigration during the 19th century to the transformations of industrialization – through the close study of a local neighborhood, Greenpoint, Brooklyn. With lesson plans for five class sessions and field guide for a trip to Greenpoint, this kit includes maps, photos, and newspaper articles about Greenpoint to illuminate the discussion.
Free Print Teaching Resources
Brooklyn History Curriculum Guides
Introduce your students to exciting topics in Social Studies with these curriculum guides. To reserve a copy for pick-up at Brooklyn Historical Society, call 718.222.4111, extension 288 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to mention which guide you’d like.
- Brooklyn’s African American Communities and Emancipation, 1799–1863 (Grades 7–12) Free! Available for pick up at BHS.
- Anti-Slavery Activism and Abolitionism in Brooklyn 1783-1865 (Grades 7–12) Free! Available for pick-up at BHS. Designed to be used independently or in conjunction with BHS's new exhibit, "Brooklyn Abolitionists/In Pursuit of Freedom," opening in January 2014.