Learn about Texas history, historical sites and preservation, and other history-related content areas through these free, downloadable resources for K-12 students and teachers.
African Americans in Texas: A Lasting Legacy: Discover the important and visible stories of African American history throughout the state. In this travel guide and video series from the Texas Historical Commission, explore freedmen's communities, Rosenwald schools, family cemeteries, civil rights archives, historic neighborhoods and more.
African American Historic Sites: This choice board set of activities explores historic and cultural heritage sites related to African American history in Texas.
Heroes of History: Black Heritage in Texas blog: From wartime service to pursuing civil rights, African Americans have been shaping Texas for hundreds of years. Heritage destinations across the state showcase stories of outstanding bravery, caring for one’s community, and preserving and expanding these narratives. In this THC-sponsored online presentation, representatives from five organizations share the histories of their sites and explain how the public can support their meaningful work to promote Black history.
Transitions of a Freedman Farm Family: Through hard work and perseverance, Ransom and Sarah Williams made their way up from slavery, through the Reconstruction period, into the Jim Crow era and into the twentieth century in an historically significant post-emancipation success story. A 4th-8th grade activity from the Texas Department of Transportation, learners analyze primary source documents to discover how Ransom Williams began the transition to freedom by exercising the right to vote and own property. A 7th-11th grade activity from Texas Beyond History gives learners the opportunity to analyze several of the more than 25,000 artifacts discovered on the historic farmstead. A podcast featuring the archeologists who excavated the farmstead is also available.
Citizenship, Slavery, and the U.S. Constitution: Daina Ramey Berry, Anthony L. Brown, and Keffrelyn D. Brown of The University of Texas at Austin deliver a lecture on race and citizenship in the U.S. founding period in this webinar sponsored by Humanities Texas.
Voices Remembering Slavery: This Library of Congress resource has audio files and pdf transcripts of oral history interviews of formerly enslaved people from Texas talking about their lives and their feelings about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom. Several individuals sing songs, many of which were learned during the time of their enslavement.
Freedom Colonies and Beyond: In this 4th-8th grade activity from Texas Beyond History, learners explore the locations and history of freedom colonies in Texas.
The Rosenwald Schools: When Booker T. Washington met Julius Rosenwald in the early 1900s, the trajectory of education for African American youth changed. This National Trust for Historic Preservation online presentation is an excellent introduction to the history and development of these schools which existed across the south and in 82 Texas communities. A separate lesson plan for grades 5-12 from the National Parks Service Teaching with Historic Places series explores the people and forces that drove this movement.
Struggle and Success: This ebook from the Texas State Historical Association provides history and biographical profiles of African Americans who have shaped and influenced Texas history. Selections are from TSHA's Handbook of African American Texas and feature entries covering politics, civil rights, science, sports, medicine and many more topics.
History Quilt: Juneteenth: On June 19, 1865, Union general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to proclaim freedom for the enslaved people of Texas. In 2012, textile artist Renee Allen created a quilt telling the story of that day. In this activity, learners will analyze how the Juneteenth quilt captures that historic moment. Instructions are included for creating a personal story quilt.
Barbara Jordan: A Voice for Democracy: In July 1974, as the Watergate hearings took place, one voice stood out expressing faith in American ideals. That voice—deep, measured, and unmistakable—belonged to Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Hear audio of her speeches and find many additional resources about this Texas legend on this Humanities Texas webpage.
The Saga of Sam McCulloch: After serving and being wounded as a volunteer soldier in the Texas revolution, Sam, a free Black man, encountered resistance to exercising his rights in the new republic. In this activity from the Texas General Land Office, learners use primary source documents to investigate Sam's challenge in requesting a land grant.
Mission Santa Cruz de San Sabá: Learn about Spanish colonization in Texas through the story of a mission which was destroyed. Using primary and secondary documents, students will investigate what happened at the mission on March 6, 1758, and reflect on current archeological discovers at the site.
Texas Archeology in the Classroom: An educator's guide to teaching archeology with information, resources, and hands-on activities aligned with TEKS for classroom use (grades 3 through 12).
Pinch Pots and Artifacts Activities: In these activities for K-grade 2, 4th grade, and 7th grade, learners are introduced to the field of archeology, experience the process of making a clay pinch pot, and create and analyze artifacts.
Archeology Activities: From exploring the creation of pottery and stone tools to an example neighborhood archeological survey, these projects from the Texas Historical Commission, the University of Texas, the Texas Archeological Society, and the Mesoamerican Center help uncover the depth and richness of our state’s heritage. Content of the activities include archeology adventure, chocolate pots, Native American gorgets, pinch pots, archeology passport, hot chocolate, aerial archeology, and coloring pages for a ceremonial cave, a hunter's pouch, Mission Espiritu Santo, and the Williams Farmstead.
Piecing History Together: Artifacts can help archeologists understand the cultures that created them. In this activity, learners decorate an artifact, break it, and then experience the process of reassembling it.
Texas Shipwrecks: Futtocks and Trunnels: Marine archeologists must understand what they're looking at when ships are exposed along Texas beaches. Learn the names of ship parts by matching them with images.
What Does an Archeologist Do?: What's the difference between an archeologist and a paleontolgist or geologist?
Careers in Archeology: Find out more about careers in archeology.
Texas Archeology Month: Each October, organizations across the state celebrate the spirit of discovery. Find out about archeological activities and learning opportunities.
The Chisholm Trail Scavenger Hunt: In the 19th century, major cattle routes began in Texas and ran hundreds of miles to the stockyards and rail hubs in northern states. The months-long trips were hard on both the cattle and the cowfolk. Would you have made the journey? Using the THC Chisholm Trail brochure and scavenger hunt questions, find out more about the legendary cattle trails before you make your journey decision. An answer key is provided.
Texas Foodways: Pan de Campo: Use this baking activity to make (and eat!) the legendary camp bread of the 19th century cattle trails. This hearty yet simple staple was named the state bread of Texas in 2005.
Chow Bingo: How does a snack of brown gargle and boggy top sound? Cowfolk along the Texas cattle trails knew what those food items were. See how well you can match the cowfolk slang term with the real food item in Chow Bingo 1 and Chow Bingo 2. An answer key is provided.
Texas Trails Pathways of History: This ebook, published by the Texas State Historical Association to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail, includes information and graphics about historic Texas cattle trails, longhorn cattle, and notable cattlemen and women.
Ranching: A Primary Source Adventure: These Texas ranching learning resources, featuring oral histories, lesson plans for 4th and 7th grade students, and additional weblinks, are provided by The Portal to Texas History Resources4Educators.
Campfire Stories: Cattle Folk: At this Bullock Museum website, learn about Texas cattlemen and women, the cattle trail timeline, and what the iconic XIT Ranch had to do with the construction of the Texas state capitol building.
Cemeteries are steeped in the history and the stories of real people. To help students interpret this information, the Cemetery Lesson Plan for Grades 4 and 7 explores typical memorial and physical features found in most cemeteries. By experiencing a gallery walk through Oakwood Cemetery (established in 1839), the oldest cemetery in Austin, Texas, and becoming familiar with cemetery-related vocabulary, students will build a foundation for understanding the history that lives in cemeteries in their own communities.
Learn more about Cemetery Preservation.
Hispanic Heritage in Texas Resources: Explore video mobile tours and print materials (available in Spanish) to discover how Hispanic heritage shaped early Texas and continues to create the Texas of today
Texas Historical Markers Lesson Plan: In these activities, learners explore and analyze Texas historical markers as resources for understanding and preserving local history.
Education in Texas Marker Map: Early Texans cited a lack of public education as a reason for independence from Mexico. The 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas specifically mentioned the need for a public school system. Explore this map of more than 1,000 official Texas historical markers that tell the story of education in Texas, from early German schools to Rosenwald Schools to the first woman’s college.
Koo Hoot Kiwat: Learn about the design and construction of a traditional Caddo grass house built at Caddo Mounds in the summer of 2016. This documentary highlights the experiences of Caddo Elder and Grass House Architect Phil Cross, his apprentice Chad Earles, site staff, and community volunteers during all phases of grass house construction. Videographer Curtis Craven documented the complete house construction process from raw material selection and collection to final thatching. The documentary, Koo Hoot Kiwat: The Caddo Grass House, was aired 305 times between September 2017 and October 2021 with coverage on 45 percent of the PBS stations reaching a potential audience of more than 120 million viewers. In December 2019, the documentary won the prestigious Lone Star Emmy for Texas Heritage.
The Grass Rebuild Series: In a series of six video shorts, viewers can follow along with rebuilding the Caddo Grass house largely through the experiences of the Caddo Build Team and Caddo Citizens Kay O’Neal, Jackie Bullard, Lauren E. Toho Murrow-Haupt, Katelyn De Anne Polly, and Debbie Marie Turner.
Appropriation vs. Appreciation: Caddo Citizen Chase Kahwinhut Earles offers viewers an explanation of the differences between appreciating another culture and appropriating from a culture other than your own.
Kricket Rhoads Connywerdy, Storytelling: In these two videos, Caddo and Kiowa Storyteller Kricket Rhoads Connywerdy shares two Caddo stories, Snake Woman Who Distrubutes the Seeds and the Caddo Creation Story.
Caddo Traditions Teachers' Workshop: Caddo Traditions teachers' workshop sessions have covered Caddo pottery, iconography, dance, stories, food, religion, cane weaving, and more. This playlist includes introductions to some of these Caddo traditions from Caddo Citizen Kricket Rhoads-Connywerdy, Basket Weaver Laura Lee Zanger, Stephen Zanger, Anthropologist Dr. George Sabo, and Paleoethnobotanist Dr. Leslie Bush. This project was sponsored in part by The Summerlee Foundation and Humanities Texas.
A New Lens Teachers' Workshop: This playlist includes short videos by Caddo Citizen Kricket Rhoads-Connywerdy, Anthropologist Dr. George Sabo, Historian Dr. Juliana Barr, and Paleoethnobotanist Dr. Leslie Bush. Topics in this series include Caddo and Kiowa stories, Indian and European encounters from the Native point of view, Caddo agriculture and plant domestication, and “why you can’t teach history without American Indians”. This project was sponsored in part by Humanities Texas.
The Power of History: A Weekend with Snake Woman Teacher’s Workshop: This playlist includes short videos by Caddo Citizens Alaina Tahlate, Kricket Rhoads-Connywerdy, and Yonavea Hawkins, along with Anthropologist Dr. George Sabo, and historical researcher Max Dashu. In this series you will learn about language revitalization, cultural competency, history through story, and about global Snake Woman myths. This project was sponsored in part by Humanities Texas.
Texas Prisoner of War Camps Lesson Plan: In this lesson correlated to 7th grade TEKS, learners analyze the establishment, operation, and economic impact of Texas WWII prisoner of war camps located at Camp Hereford, Camp Huntsville, and Camp Swift.
Prisoners of War in Texas Lesson Plan: In these four lessons correlated to high school U.S. History TEKS, learners analyze the role of the Geneva Convention in the establishment of Texas POW camps during WWII, the treatment of POW camp prisoners, and the economics of POW camps to understand the immediate and continuing legacy of these camps in both Texas and U.S. history.
The Zimmermann Telegram, 1917: This coded message, sent by German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann, helped change American sentiment about entering World War I. In this activity, learners used a code key to figure out the missing words in a text summary of Zimmermann's message. A key is provided. An image and translation of the actual telegram text is also included.
Rationing on the Home Front: In 1942, the United States was in the middle of World War II. That year, the U.S. government implemented rationing programs that limited citizens' personal food and supplies in order to provide adequate provisions and supplies for soldiers abroad. In this grade 7 activity from the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site, learners experience the history of the rationing programs and the challenge of buying food and supplies with ration coupons and a limited budget.
Mr. Sam and World War II: In September of 1840, Sam Rayburn was elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was influential in wartime legislation such as the Lend-Lease Act, Extension of the Selective Service, the G.I. Bill of Rights, and the acquisition of funds for the atomic bomb. In these activities for high school from the Sam Rayburn State Historic Site, learners practice rationing and compare and contrast WWII rationing with today's recycling efforts.
There has never been a better time for capturing oral histories than now. Use the guidelines to discover the process of oral history interviewing. Practice asking good questions and understanding the etiquette and challenges of documenting other people's stories. The family interview activity offers the opportunity to put the practice into action and capture the history of then and now.
Childhood in the Republic: Life in the Republic of Texas (1836-1846) would have been very different from life in the state today, especially for children. In this grade 4 lesson from the Star of the Republic Museum, learners examine readings and photos to learn about the daily chores children performed during this time. Additional activities include comparing and contrasting daily life in the Republic with life today, analyzing items used during this time period to determine what modern versions might still be used today, and writing a first-person narrative describing a Texas Republic childhood.
Dr. Anson Jones: Architect of Annexation: As the last elected president of the Texas Republic, Dr. Anson Jones was instrumental in the process of moving Texas from an independent republic to statehood in the United States. In these activities from the Barrington Plantation State Historic Site, learners investigate the annexation of Texas through primary source transcripts, including speeches from Dr. Jones and U.S. president John Quincy Adams, a map of the Republic boundaries in 1845, a ballot tally, and political cartoons of the period.
A Letter on Texas Annexation: When Texas became an independent republic in 1836, one of the few European countries to recognize that new status was France. Alphonse Isidoré Dubois de Saligny was appointed to serve in Austin as France’s chargé d’affaires, the country’s diplomatic representative in Texas. A few years later, Texas was in the middle of a conflict over annexation to the United States. In this grade 7 lesson from the French Legation State Historic Site, learners analyze primary source translated excerpts from a letter Dubois wrote in 1844 to French Foreign Minister François Guizot describing his conversation with Texas President Sam Houston regarding the issues of Texas’ annexation.
Discovering the Battle of San Jacinto in Primary Sources Grade 4: The Battle of San Jacinto was a pivotal moment in Texas history, but it happened long before anyone alive now was born. How do historians know what happened during the battle? One of the major ways is by studying primary sources, such as letters, journal entries, artifacts, and maps that were created during the time period they discuss or by people who were involved in the events. In this lesson, learners explore the Battle of San Jacinto using three primary sources: General Houston’s Battle Report, “Mexican Account of the Battle of San Jacinto” by Colonel Pedro Delgado, and Yoakum’s map of the battlefield. An introductory video is included.
Discovering the Battle of San Jacinto in Primary Sources Grade 7: The Battle of San Jacinto was a pivotal moment in Texas history, but it happened long before anyone alive now was born. How do historians know what happened during the battle? One of the major ways is by studying primary sources, such as letters, journal entries, artifacts, and maps that were created during the time period they discuss or by people who were involved in the events. In this lesson, learners explore the Battle of San Jacinto using four primary sources: General Houston’s Battle Report, “Mexican Account of the Battle of San Jacinto” by Colonel Pedro Delgado, a biography of Alfonso Steele, and Yoakum’s map of the battlefield. An introductory video is included.
What Is an Empresario?: Part 1 of the Empresario series (grades 4 and 7) from the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site explores various aspects of the system that brought permanent settlers to Texas in the early 19th century. A site video and lesson activities focusing on the experiences of Stephen F. Austin help define the duties and qualities of Texas empresarios.
Why Invite Foreign Colonists?: Part 2 of the Empresario series from the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site investigates how the introduction of colonists from other nations impacted the development of Texas. An introductory site video and learning activities provide opportunities to analyze primary source documents related to the settlement efforts.
How Did Empresarios Attract Colonists?: Part 3 of the Empresario series from the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site explores the strategies Stephen F. Austin used to advertise to potential colonists interested in settling in Texas in the early 19th century. Activities provide opportunities to analyze primary source documents including Austin's letter and colony regulations related to settlement recruitment. An introductory video is included.
Choosing Colonists: Part 4 of the Empresario series from the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site investigates how Stephen F. Austin selected settlers who wanted to move to Texas in the early 19th century. Activities provide learners the opportunity to evaluate potential colonists' suitability based on desirable characteristics. An introductory video and transcriptions of primary source character certificates and historic letters are included.
Where to Begin a Colony?: Part 5 of the Empresario series from the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site provides opportunities to study Stephen F. Austin's 1821 journal entries describing his travels through Mexican Texas in search of good land grants for his new colony. Activities include land feature analysis and reading for information.
Constructing a Capital: Part 6 of the Empresario series from the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site explores the process and requirements of establishing an administrative center for settlements in Mexican Texas. Activities provide opportunities for analyzing primary source documents and plotting an original town. An introductory video is included.
Forming a Colonial Government: Part 7 of the Empresario series from the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site explores the role of empresarios in establishing new governments in their settlements. Activities include reviewing fictional application letters for government position selection and analyzing primary source letters from Stephen F. Austin and Jose Antonio Saucedo. An introductory video is included.
The Importance of the Land Office: Part 8 of the Empresario series from the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site introduces learners to the important functions of a colony’s land office, the center of administration and record-keeping. The activities provide opportunities to analyze and organize information relating to land titles and maps. An introductory video and primary source transcripts of letters and land titles are included.
Establishing Law in the Colony: Part 9 of the Empresario series from the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site examines the process of establishing a legal system in early colonial Texas. Activities explore primary sources that demonstrate empresario and temporary chief legal officer Stephen F. Austin's challenge in establishing civil and criminal regulations that were acceptable to both the colony and the government of Coahuila y Tejas. An introductory video is included.
The Militia in Austin's Colony: Part 10 of the Empresario series from the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site introduces the role of the civic militia in Mexican Texas during the early 19th century. The Constitution of Coahuila and Texas provided that a civic militia be established in all towns of the state. In 1826, militias of Stephen F. Austin and Green DeWitt’s colonies were mustered to defeat the Fredonian Rebellion, an early attempt by Anglo colonists in Texas to declare independence from Mexico. The activities explore the role of the militia and the regulations governing it. A video and primary documents are included.
Was Austin a Successful Empresario?: Part 11 of the Empresario series from the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site considers the empresario system that brought permanent settlers to Mexican Texas during the early 19th century. Activities explore the questions of what happened once an empresario completed a contract, and whether or not Stephen F. Austin can be considered to be an example of a successful empresario. A video and primary source documents are included.
Beyond the Alamo: Discover the Undertold Stories of the Texas Revolution: This edition of the Texas Historical Commission's quarterly magazine, The Medallion, explores the stories of the important people and places of the Texas Revolution that aren't always covered in textbooks.
- Texas Time Travel: This THC site offers maps, brochures, and short videos on Texas history, Heritage Trails, and statewide travel. See the Guides for material that can be downloaded or ordered.
- Texas Travel Guides: Colorful brochures focused on history content as well as Texas heritage travel are available to download or order for classroom use.
- Texas Council for the Social Studies: This state affiliate of the National Council for Social Studies provides an educator blog and lesson plan resources under The Texan tab on the main menu.
- National Council for the Social Studies: This national organization provides numerous resources and information on social studies-related conferences, publications, and classroom practices.
- UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures: The University of Texas at San Antonio's Smithsonian-affiliated site has resources for K-12 students and teachers as well as kids and families. Homeschool resources with downloadable lesson plans are also available.
- Texas State Historical Association Teacher Resources: All resources and lessons are linked to and organized by 4th and 7th grade social studies TEKS.
- Texas History for Teachers: Unit and lesson plans, student activities, video lecture, and primary sources for Texas History educators.
- Texas Archive of the Moving Image: Primary and secondary source films relating to Texas, U.S., and World History, as well as free lesson plans aligned with Texas teaching standards (TEKS) for grades K-12.
- The Handbook of Texas Online: The Handbook of Texas Online is a multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history, geography, and culture sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association.
- Portal to Texas History: The Portal is a gateway to Texas history materials. You may discover anything from an ancestor's picture in a college yearbook to a rare historical map.
- Texas Beyond History: Texas Beyond History is a public education service of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with the Department of Anthropology at Texas State University and 15 other organizations.