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Today’s post comes from Chelsea Tremblay, former social media intern in our Education and Public Programs division.

Amelia Earhart prior to last takeoff, ca. 1937. Archives Identifier 670861

Amelia Earhart prior to last takeoff, National Archives Identifier 670861

This year’s National History Day theme, Leadership and Legacy in History, opens the door for millions of topics that span world history. Today we shine a spotlight on a legacy that ended too soon, but one with a story that has not yet ended.

In 1937, Amelia Earhart embarked on an aerial adventure around the world. For years she dreamed of this adventure; she even wrote to President Roosevelt asking for help making her dream a reality.

Letter from Earhart to Roosevelt

Page 1 of Letter from Earhart to Roosevelt, National Archives Identifier 6705943

On July 2nd, as her circumnavigation was just beginning, she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific ocean. According to these navy records, Earhart began signaling distress around 11 a.m. after her departure from New Guinea, communicating that “failure of the flight was imminent.”

When searchers finally reached Earhart’s supposed location the next morning, the weather conditions were too poor to see anything, so they were forced to return to their bases. At the bottom of the following document, you can see Lieutenant Harvey’s description of the dismal conditions.

U. S. Navy Report of the Search for Amelia Earhart. Archives Identifier 305240

U. S. Navy Report of the Search for Earhart, National Archives Identifier 305240

Neither a plane nor bodies were found after the sudden disappearance. The two were never seen or heard from again.

Multiple theories have circled over the years: that Earhart’s plane crashed into the Pacific, resulting in her and Noonan’s death; the two traveled safely back to the United States and lived peacefully with secret identities; she was really a spy and was shot down by enemies of the US; and that the two landed on an abandoned island and lived out the rest of their days there.

The last theory is one popularly defended by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR). They believe she and Noonan spent the last of their days on an uninhabited island south of Hawaii called Nikumaroro. According to this Huffington Post article, several items have been found on the island to suggest that Earhart was there, but there’s never been concrete evidence.

Until last October.

On October 25, 2014 TIGHAR published an intensive theory about a seemingly unimportant piece of metal found on Nikumaroro in 1991. According to their research, the metal sheet was used as a makeshift patch over a rear window of Earhart’s plane. If this is true, it would would be the first piece of Earhart’s vanished plane ever found.

This discovery comes at a great time for students who are deciding on National History Day topics. This year’s theme, Leadership and Legacy, has led numerous kids to think more about Amelia Earhart and her impact on society. She was an inspirational, powerful female figure and even once said to FDR, “Like previous flights, I am undertaking this one solely because I want to, and because I feel that women now and then have to do things to show what women can do.”

Those researching her can look through the report mentioned above, and even trace the military’s search pathway to see if they agree with TIGHAR’s Nikumaroro theory.

Find more resources for National History Day on our website!

100 Leaders in World History

by on January 20, 2015

Our partner National History Day (NHD) invites students and people of all ages to think about the idea of leadership through their 100 Leaders in World History project at

NHD 100 Leaders Image 1

Vote — and involve your students in voting — for your favorite leaders. Or, if you think a leader is missing, add to the list!

NHD developed the 100 Leaders in World History project in conjunction with this year’s NHD annual contest theme, Leadership and Legacy in History, to help future leaders better understand leadership.

You can use our special DocsTeach NHD page to get your students thinking about leadership and legacy in our history, through online activities and primary sources. Or use our main online catalog to locate primary sources related to specific leaders such as Eleanor RooseveltMao ZedongNelson MandelaFidel CastroAlbert EinsteinThurgood Marshall, or Thomas Jefferson.

NHD 100 Leaders Image 2

The 100 Leaders in World History project looks at past leaders who have made a significant impact on the world and examines how studying their experiences can help the next generation of leaders think about the role of leadership today and the type of legacy they want to leave behind. Through the project, NHD encourages students to identify those leaders whom they should emulate and those they should revile.

History is filled with leaders from around the world who have made a significant impact on the present. “We need leaders,” said NHD Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “More specifically, we need moral and dedicated leaders who will wisely guide the next generation of world leaders.”

NHD 100 Leaders Image 3

For this project, 20 teachers, historians, and students met, debated, and agreed upon a list of 100 Leaders in World History. The list is not inclusive of every leader in history, but contains people whose actions impacted the world.

See the full Leader Gallery, vote, check out “Who’s Trending Now?,” and find classroom resources at

And find even more NHD resources from the National Archives on our website at

Images from the NHD 100 Leaders in World History site depict Napoleon Bonaparte, Aung San Suu Kyi, Joan of Arc, Sitting Bull, Leonardo da Vinci, Rachel Carson, Hammurabi, Nelson Mandela, and Christopher Columbus.

Congress Creates the Bill of Rights, our new mobile app for iPads, is an interactive learning tool that allows students to explore the proposals, debates, and revisions that shaped the Bill of Rights. In addition to the app, we’ve also created a series of activities to analyze the app in your classroom.

Close-up on Compromise

By using our app and accompanying activities, students will study the featured document, Senate Revisions to the House Proposed Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and go inside the First Congress as Madison and the leaders of rival political factions worked in the House and Senate to formulate amendments to change the recently ratified Constitution.

Unlocking the App, Activity 1

Divide the class into small groups. Each group will analyze the featured document using the app or facsimile, Worksheet 1, and Worksheet 2. After the members of each group have completed the worksheets, each group will discuss the following questions:

  • What was the purpose the featured document?
  • What is the historical significance of the featured document?
  • What insight does it lend into the time in which it was created?

When each group has finished sharing and discussing, each group will select a spokesperson to share the group’s results with the class.

Unlocking the App, Activity 2

Divide the class into small groups. Use Worksheet 3 to analyze one issue from the Issues and Positions feature of the app.

Unlocking the App, Activity 3

Divide the class into small groups or have them work individually. Use Worksheet 4 to analyze the First Amendment (House Proposed Articles Three and Four) at each step of its revision in Congress as detailed in the Close Up on Compromise feature of the app. When the students complete the worksheet direct the class to compare and contrast the versions of the proposed amendment at each date reflected.

  • At which date was the proposed amendment the most different from the final text of the First Amendment?
  • Which additional changes in wording (if any) would make the First Amendment a better match for today’s world?

Unlocking the App, Activity 4

Divide the class into small groups or have them work individually. Assign each group an amendment as detailed in the Amendments in Process feature of the app. Use Worksheet 5 to analyze each assigned amendment. Use Worksheet 6 to detail whether the proposed idea changed or stayed the same at each step of its progress. (Attach additional pages as needed.) Use Worksheet 7 to reflect on how Congress changed the amendment from its proposal to its final condition.


These questions provide an opportunity to reflect on four important historical issues about the First Congress and the Bill of Rights. They can be considered before or after exploring the app, and they can be addressed individually or in a group discussion.

Many feel that without James Madison’s leadership there would have been no Bill of Rights. At the same time, the Bill of Rights that was created was not exactly what Madison had originally proposed.

  • Taking stock of Madison’s leadership and achievement in proposing amendments, how successful was he as a leader in the creation of the Bill of Rights?
  • If Madison had not provided leadership on amendments, and if the First Congress had not started the process of creating the Bill of Rights, how might the history of the early republic have been different?

Anti-Federalist leader Aedanus Burke (SC) dismissed James Madison’s proposed amendments as “little better than whip syllabub, frothy, full of wind, formed only to please the palate.”

  • Why might an Anti-Federalist have expressed this opinion?
  • Did his assessment have some validity?

Following the suggestion of Roger Sherman, Congress decided to attach the Bill of Rights to the end of the Constitution rather than accepting James Madison’s approach to change the text of the document itself.

  • How might the Constitution and Bill of Rights have been affected by following Madison’s approach instead of Sherman’s?

Creating the Bill of Rights was one of the early accomplishments that demonstrated that the First Congress could serve as a forum to resolve important national issues.

  • How did the legislative process by which each amendment was considered bring different points of view to bear upon the amendments and allow different voices to shape each of them?

See this lesson online for more information on using it in your classroom.

Today’s post comes from Chelsea Tremblay, former social media intern in our Education and Public Programs division.

On November 13, we hosted our first Educators’ Open House. Educators from various grade levels came to learn what the National Archives has to offer. Snacks were served, laughs were had, and resources were shared!

Here are just some of our programs that we featured:

Distance Learning

Videoconferences and webinars are a great way to utilize our resources without having to travel. Educators' Open House

We offer both videoconferences for students and professional development webinars for educators. Visit our website to learn more and request programs.

The Constitution-In-Action Learning Lab

This fun, hands-on activity available for student field trips takes place in our replica “stacks” (where documents are stored) and research rooms. Groups of 12-36 participants can sign up for this simulation with an in-depth focus on the U.S. Constitution.

Educators' Open House

Student groups focus on different parts of the Constitution while helping the president’s “press secretary” organize a mock Constitution-in-Action campaign. As “archivists” and “researchers,” they must demonstrate why the Constitution is important and how it has been influential throughout history.

The lab is free but a reservation is required. Visit our website for more information.

Bill of Rights eBook and iPad App

The Center for Legislative Archives, part of the National Archives, launched a free mobile app and eBook called Congress Creates the Bill of Rights, in honor of the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights’ proposal, on Constitution Day (September 17). Both describe the tedious process of writing and agreeing upon the first 10 Constitutional Amendments, and why they were necessary.

Educators at Open HouseThe eBook and app are available for free at the iTunes store and the webpage of the Center for Legislative Archives.

Online Resources

DocsTeach — Our online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives offers tools for building online activities using digitized primary sources. An entire section of this website is dedicated to National History Day. Other special DocsTeach Pages can be found on our website.Founders Online

Founders Online — Our searchable archive of the correspondence and other writings of six of the Founding Fathers.

Our main online catalog — Our database provides the most expansive access to our millions of digitized primary sources.


During the Open House, we extended our museum’s exhibit hours so that visitors could see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights and our permanent and temporary exhibits. You can visit them yourself seven days a week, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. (except Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Day).

Check out images from our Open House on Flickr and keep your eyes peeled for our fall 2015 Educators’ Open House!


The Educators’ Open House was made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the support of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Today’s post comes from Kris Jarosik, education specialist at the National Archives at Chicago.

When funds for field trips are sparse or non-existent, turn to the next best thing – combining primary sources and geography using technology.Historypin app screenshot

During a recent teacher workshop, we partnered with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and used a website and app called Historypin to help teachers learn about the origins of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal program, and the lasting impact in our community.

Historypin brings you out into a community and allows you to see changes in the landscape with primary sources, such as photographs, overlaid or “pinned” on Google maps.

You can do the same for your students, whether it’s creating your own Historypin tour or collection, or using pre-existing samples.

Chicago CCC Workshop ParticipantsIn the case of our workshop, we decided on a local topic that would benefit from a visual treatment to help students learn about change over time and cause and effect. The remnants of the McDowell Grove CCC camp offered lessons not only about the scope of this New Deal program, but also about changing values in natural resource management (the conservation movement and today’s environmentalists).

With these objectives in mind, we identified historical photographs from the National Archives, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, and other local repositories. Scanning these images, uploading to Historypin, and crafting captions came next.  Historypin has created a downloadable guide and a set of “how to” video clips on YouTube to help.  We used a Historypin collection for our McDowell Grove exploration since most of the camp remains are not currently available on Google Street View.

Taking a tour and viewing historic photographs on-site with mobile devices and the Historypin app can allow you to see something like in these screenshots captured by one of the teachers who participated in our workshop.

But if on-site, smartphone traversing is not feasible, head to the Historypin web site and have your students explore inside.  The tour option works exceptionally well for a computer experience.  For example, have students learn about the tumultuous 1960s with the National Archives’ 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago tour.

Thousands of cultural institutions and individuals around the world, including the National Archives and the Forest Preserve District of Du Page County, have Historypin profiles with tours and collections.  Have fun and help your students connect with history by using primary sources and geography to travel back to the past.