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Classroom Activities

National History Day 2007–2008
Conflict & Compromise

National History Day Logo


Photograph by Roy deCarava

Use primary sources from the Smithsonian American Art Museum to research U.S. history!

The Smithsonian American Art Museum holds 40,000 works in its collection. These artworks often depict the people, places, and ideas that have shaped American history.

Using our collection, teachers and students can see George Washington at Valley Forge or meet a civil rights marcher in Washington, D.C. (shown here). You can travel from Old North Church to the Deep South, from East Broadway to the Wild West (shown below) and places in between.

This guide will help visitors find artworks to enrich their study of American history. The National History Day theme—Conflict and Compromise—provides a springboard to explore our Web site and our collections, though other historical topics will also yield rich results.

Painting by Emil Armin

The first two sections provide tips for using two online search functions—one to find relevant artworks and another to find related text on the Web site. The last section provides information about visual communication. Teachers can use this material to incorporate artworks and visual analysis into lesson plans, while students can use principles of visual communication in presenting their National History Day project.

Pictured top: Roy DeCarava, Mississippi Freedom Marcher, Washington, D.C., 1963/printed 1982, gelatin silver print, 10 7/8 x 13 7/8 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by Henry L. Milmore

Pictured bottom: Emil Armin, Wild West, 1929, oil, 18 1/8 x 21 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Hilda D. Armin