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An Inside Look at the Civil War: Using Primary Sources to Increase Understanding

from Educate.Today

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America in the Civil War—a time of conflict, strife, and worry. What would it have been like to participate in that struggle? To march as an infantryman? To ride in the cavalry? To use artillery on the battlefield? To build an ironclad? To attack a rail line? What can we learn about this period of history by reading from artifacts used during it and hearing directly from the people and seeing the places that experienced it? You can find answers to these questions and more as you join us live from Oakville High School with members of their History Club who have researched the primary sources they’ll share with you during the program. Read from an artillery manual, hear a poem written by a cavalryman, learn from letters and images of the time.

In advance of the program you will receive copies of primary sources that will be used during the show along with some worksheets designed to get your students thinking about these sources and what they seem to tell them about participating in the War. Our focus in this program will not be exploring all the historic details of the Civil War, but it will be to provide students the opportunity to think like an historian as they go back in time through the wonder of primary sources. Students will have the opportunity to ask the History Club students questions about the documents and their research process as well as interact with Civil War experts on the topics related to those documents.

PLEASE NOTE: The morning program and afternoon program will explore different areas of life during the Civil War. The morning program will use primary sources to tell us more about life as an infantryman, cavalryman and member of the artillery. The afternoon program will look into the importance of rivers and rail lines on the war as we explore a Missouri battle focused on an important rail line and learn about James Eads and his work on ironclads. We invite you to join us and bring history to life!

How To View the Program:
People can join the program live in any of three ways:

1. Via videconference--We have interactive and view only videoconference slots available for student groups to join the program. Groups interested in connecting this way will need a videoconference unit at their facility, and we would need to test your connection with our bridge at MOREnet ahead of the program using the IP address you'd use to connect on the program day. Interactive slots get face to face question and answer time with the program guests; view only slots can e-mail questions and comments during the program to These slots are limited so early enrollment is highly recommended. For videoconference participation, we must have you enrolled no later than March 1. Contact us at

2. Via Internet--All our HEC-TV Live! programs are streamed live via the station website,, on the program day. For our programs focused on the Civil War at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on March 8 just go to our home page at the program time and the program will run on that page. Since many schools limit streaming video through their firewalls, we recommend testing your ability to view the stream prior to the program by watching one of HEC-TV’s archived programs at We also recommend viewing the program live on one computer only and connecting that computer to a television or digital projector for classroom viewing. Viewers can e-mail their questions and comments during the program to us at To receive curriculum materials designed to help you prepare your students for the program, just e-mail us prior to the program at

3. Via Television--All our programs are available in the St. Louis metropolitan area on HEC-TV, Charter Communications digital channels 989 or 118-26. All our programs can also be seen on AT&T’s U-Verse channel 99. Students viewing in this way can e-mail their questions during the program to To view the show live on the program day, just turn on your TV to the appropriate channel.

For Internet and TV viewing, there is no enrollment deadline date. We would appreciate knowing the time of the program you are watching and the grade level and amount of students involved so we can forward that information to our program partners. Such information is extremely helpful in securing funding for more free, interactive, educational programs in the future. To let us know you’re viewing the program or to answer any additional questions about the program, please contact us at

Archival Viewing:

Can’t join us live? No problem! All HEC-TV Live! programs are archived on the station website, and on the HEC-TV page on iTunesU for on-demand viewing at any time. Archives are usually up and running about a week after the program's original air date.

Program Rating

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About This Program


Multipoint: $0.00
View Only: 0.00


There is NO CHARGE for this program.


60 minutes

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Minimum participants:

There is no minimum number required for participation.

Maximum participants:

For optimum interactivity, we recommend no more than two classes combined.

Primary Disciplines

Social Studies/History

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference - H.323 (Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, etc...)

Booking Information

Sorry, this program is not currently available. To inquire about future availability, please contact Educate.Today

Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

Since we may well have a waiting list for interactive participation, please let us know of your need to cancel as soon as possible.

About This Provider

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St Louis, MO
United States

Student and educator focused and standards-based, our interactive programs, videos and related curriculum resources authentically link students and the curriculum they study to individuals and organizations who are applying that curriculum in the real world. We offer on-demand interactive programs whose content and time frame are designed to best meet your students’ learning needs.

Helen Headrick

Program Details


The program will utilize primary source artifacts to help us understand what it was like to participate in the Civil War. Students will have many opportunities to interact with the Oakville High School History Club students who did the primary source research as well as Civil War experts involved in the program. Pre-program information and Order for the program itself is included below.

Pre-Program Information--Prior to the program day, teachers of participating students will receive a packet with copies of primary source documents and images of primary source artifacts to be used during the program. Worksheets will accompany these preparatory materials to get students thinking about the documents and to help them prepare questions to ask and comments to offer during the program. Student ideas and comments about the primary sources will be asked for during the program.

Program Order—The videoconference program will consist of the following segments.

1. Welcome and Introduction—Student groups and experts will be introduced and welcomed to the program.

2. Participating in the Civil War—During this segment students will be asked their ideas about the primary sources they received in advance of the program as well as hear from the History Club students and Civil War experts on those same primary sources and related ideas. They will also get many opportunities to ask questions during the program. Please be sure to follow pre-program activities 2 and 3 to send us the names of students who will be asking questions and sharing their ideas during the program. Please also note, the morning and afternoon programs will look at different areas of the war. In the morning program, we’ll explore life as an infantryman, cavalryman and member of the artillery. In the afternoon program, we’ll look into the importance of rivers and rail lines on the war as we explore a Missouri battle focused on an important rail line and learn about James Eads and his work on ironclads.

3. Closing Segment--Including summary of topics discussed and final questions from students.


1. The participant will interact with primary source documents and interpret how they impact his/her understanding of a particular historic subject.

2. The participant will engage in a discussion about life during the Civil War and share their ideas and questions as they interact with historic experts and primary source artifacts.

3. The participant will explore history in the first person.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

Featured National Standards (History):

Grades 5-12:
Historical Thinking Standards

1. Chronological Thinking
B. Identify the temporal structure of a historical narrative or story: its beginning, middle, and end (the latter defined as the outcome of a particular beginning).

2. Historical Comprehension
A. Identify the author or source of the historical document or narrative and assess its credibility.
B. Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage by identifying who was involved, what happened, where it happened, what events led to these developments, and what consequences or outcomes followed.
C. Identify the central question(s) the historical narrative addresses and the purpose, perspective, or point of view from which it has been constructed.
D. Differentiate between historical facts and historical interpretations but acknowledge that the two are related; that the facts the historian reports are selected and reflect therefore the historian’s judgement of what is most significant about the past.
E. Read historical narratives imaginatively, taking into account what the narrative reveals of the humanity of the individuals and groups involved--their probable values, outlook, motives, hopes, fears, strengths, and weaknesses.
F. Appreciate historical perspectives--(a) describing the past on its own terms, through the eyes and experiences of those who were there, as revealed through their literature, diaries, letters, debates, arts, artifacts, and the like; (b) considering the historical context in which the event unfolded--the values, outlook, options, and contingencies of that time and place; and (c) avoiding “present-mindedness,” judging the past solely in terms of present-day norms and values.

3. Historical Analysis and Interpretation
E. Distinguish between unsupported expressions of opinion and informed hypotheses grounded in historical evidence.
F. Compare competing historical narratives.

4. Historical Research Capabilities
A. Formulate historical questions from encounters with historical documents, eyewitness accounts, letters, diaries, artifacts, photos, historical sites, art, architecture, and other records from the past.
B. Obtain historical data from a variety of sources, including: library and museum collections, historic sites, historical photos, journals, diaries, eyewitness accounts, newspapers, and the like; documentary films, oral testimony from living witnesses, censuses, tax records, city directories, statistical compilations, and economic indicators.

5. Historical Issues—Analysis and Decision-Making
A. Identify issues and problems in the past and analyze the interests, values, perspectives, and points of view of those involved in the situation.

Grades 7-12 History Content Standards

The course and character of the Civil War and its effects on the American people.
Standard 2B
The student understands the social experience of the war on the battlefield and homefront

State Standards

No specific state's standards are referenced.