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August 2004

Reconstruction: The Second Civil War
Strong site from PBS on late-1800s America.
Grade Level: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Reconstruction: The Second Civil War offers teachers and students information and resources for learning about such topics in American history as the Civil War, slavery, abolition, nation building after war, the cotton economy, sharecropping, federal government intervention in the states, and much more. It was produced by PBS and includes video of the entire show of the same name.
This site is well designed and user-friendly. The left side menu gives access to the various areas of the site. By rolling the mouse over the topic a brief description of the area is displayed. A text menu at the bottom of the page is also available. QuickTime or RealPlayer are required for viewing the video and a link for download is provided as well as program transcripts.

A wealth of information and resources are available at this site. Teachers can have their students view the entire film online or simply use parts of it as they explore a particular topic in the classroom or use the rich resources independently of the film. The site includes ten featured topics such as Forty Acres and a Mule, Plantations in Ruins, Black Legislators, Northerners in the South, Slave to Sharecropper, and The Negro Question. Each feature includes a mini-documentary, program clips, primary source material, special features, and links to online and print resources for further reading. For instance, State-by-State features an interactive map that shows the impact of the war on each state and a timeline that follows a chronology of post-Civil War nation building efforts. The teacher's guide includes lesson plans and activities on civics, history, economics, and geography as well as helpful hints for active learning questions. This is a site that teachers or anyone interested in this era of American history will not want to miss!


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