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American Battlefield Trust Launches New Online, Inquiry-Based Curriculum

Free online resources provide K-12 educators across the country with Civil War history lesson plans and teaching tools applicable to both classroom and distance learning

(Washington, D.C.) – The American Battlefield Trust has launched a new Civil War Inquiry Curriculum, an easy-to-use, interdisciplinary and resource-rich guide for middle school and high school educators. The free online lesson plans include slide presentations and downloadable PDFs of primary source packets and worksheets, plus links to the Trust’s myriad digital resources — like animated battle maps and informational videos — all designed to encourage student engagement through investigation into thought-provoking questions. The curriculum was developed by the Trust’s education department in consultation with award-winning history educators over the course of five years, and is based on the national Common Core Standards and those of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS).

“It is crucial that every young American have the opportunity to learn the stories of how our nation was forged,” said Trust President James Lighthizer. “We’re proud to have supported educators with high-quality, free content for more than two decades, but it’s especially gratifying to see how these resources are being implemented remotely in these challenging and uncertain times.”

This latest entry into the curricula produced by the Trust explores a new approach gaining popularity in pedagogical circles.

“Inquiry-based learning turns the student into a historian, and they are exposed to primary documents, historical research methods and critical thinking scenarios,” explained Garry Adelman, the Trust’s chief historian. “More and more teachers are embracing the ways it allows for independent learning, while getting students fully immersed in the subject matter.”

In addition to this new curriculum, the Trust has substantially updated its traditional, lecture-based Civil War curriculum and lesson plans to reflect educator demand and more fully integrate digital content. This curriculum also fully reflects national Common Core Standards and those of the National Council for the Social Studies. The Trust is working to develop additional curricula meeting the same standards that addresses other eras in American history, including the Revolutionary War and the early republic period.

All 47 new lesson plans, designed for grades 3–12, are now available online, with future additions also in the works. For access to this curriculum, visit:

The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 52,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. Learn more at