A History of US Reaches Prime Time

Freedom: A History of US Debuts on PBS

Twelve years ago, American Educator readers were the first anywhere to learn of Joy Hakim's exciting new textbooks on American history. Titled A History of US, the 10-book series chronicled the tale of American history with verve and drama for a middle- and high-school audience. Since then, Hakim's books have won the Michener Prize, sold over four million copies, and been adopted by hundreds of schools as either core or supplemental texts. Now, Hakim's work has been made into a PBS documentary that will air in eight parts beginning in January 2003. Freedom: A History of US investigates the extraordinary idea that regular people can—and should—govern themselves. From the Age of Reason that sparked the American Revolution to today's struggle to be free in the face of terrorism, Hakim recounts "the American freedom drama" and inspires all of us to have "the energy and courage it takes to keep it growing." The series features the voices of such stars as Paul Newman, Morgan Freeman, Julia Roberts, and Robin Williams. Watch it yourself, assign it to your students!

Companion Book Worthy of Your Coffee Table and Reading List

In addition to watching the series, don't miss the companion book Freedom: A History of US that is already earning rave reviews. David McCullough, author of the bestseller John Adams, said, "Best of all is Joy Hakim's way with the story. Never dull, never the least plodding, she brings refreshing spirit and common sense to the telling of every episode. The historic personages, great and small, are all alive, real people, and the idea that history might ever be thought of as a chore has clearly never entered her mind."

The never-ending American effort to establish, expand, and sustain freedom—and all of the interesting debates and events that effort has spawned—is the lens through which Joy Hakim tells the story of America. As she has done in her books for students, Hakim offers a strong narrative political history, richly and intelligently laced with fascinating, remarkable social history. Plus the artwork—400 images in all—is stunning.

A History of US Textbook Series for Middle- and High-Schoolers Reissued

A History of US, the original 10-volume U.S. history series, now used in hundreds of schools, has been reissued in paperback and updated to include the events of September 11. To get a 20 percent discount off the list price (or more for large orders), call Gwen Slaughter at Oxford University Press and mention this ad: 212/726-6043.

The National Archives Comes to School

For a nation founded on shared ideas, nothing is more important than remembering our shared history. To increase all citizens' interest in our past, last September President Bush announced Our Documents, a collaborative effort run by the National Archives and National History Day, with support from the Corporation for National and Community Service and the USA Freedom Corps.

Through Our Documents, one hundred of the most significant documents in American history will be available online to the nation's teachers and classrooms. Spanning from the Lee Resolution of 1776 (which proposed independence for the colonies) to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which prohibits racial discrimination in voting places and procedures), three new documents are being added each week to the Web site during the 2002–2003 school year. Each document is represented by a high-quality photo of the document, a transcript that makes the document completely readable, and a brief introduction to each document's historical context. There's also a teacher's toolbox with links to great resources such as sample lesson plans on teaching with key documents from the National Archives.

Help Build a National Resource: A Bank of Document-Based History Lessons

To support teaching with these documents, National History Day, which has for years hosted an annual student competition (for more information, see Notebook, Summer 2002 American Educator), is now hosting a lesson plan competition for history, social studies, civics, and government teachers working in grades four through twelve. To participate, teachers must develop and pilot a lesson plan that describes the historical background of the selected documents and engages students in a critical analysis of them. Along with the lesson activity, teachers must write a 2-page report on its usefulness. Lesson plans should be submitted to National History Day by March 1, 2003. For more information on both the lesson plan competition and Our Documents, go to

Along with the Our Documents initiative, the White House also announced We the People, an effort that will be led by the National Endowment for the Humanities and will include: seminars for teachers; grants to scholars for work on the principles that define America; an annual, published lecture on the theme "Heroes in History"; and a national essay contest for high school juniors on "The Idea of America." (See

American Educator, Winter 2002