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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.

The New Immigrants: NYC 1880-1924

Over thirty National Archives documents are part of a free educational app for the iPad called the New Immigrants: NYC 1880-1924. Created by the New York City Department of Education (via app developer Vanguard Direct), the app includes photographs, written documents, graphs and charts from the National Archives related to the topic of New York City immigration near the turn of the 20th century.

In addition to the 100+ images from National Archives, the app brings together primary sources from the Museum of the City of New York, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage—a Living Memorial to the Holocaust.     Each partner provided about 25 documents from their collections that they felt would help students and teachers at all levels (Elementary, Middle, and High School) engage in the study of immigration.  Educators from these institutions then met with teachers and staff from across the five boroughs of New York City for 2 days at the National Archives to begin the process of analyzing, sorting, and creating questions for these primary sources.

In New York City public schools, immigration is taught during 4th grade, 8th grade and 11th grade units of US History.  While the New Immigrant’s intended audience are those specific classrooms, the diverse collection of primary sources provides teachers, students, and history buffs in general with resources that could help foster a deeper understanding of this complex topic. The app could be used by teachers to engage students in a dynamic class discussion, by students to create their own collections or respond to an assignment, or by the general public to intrigue them to learn more about some of the stories behind these images.

The New Immigrants: NYC 1880-1924 Themes

Documents are organized into topic areas that touch on important themes in teaching immigration–including the Migration Process, Tenement Life, and Nativism.

The New Immigrants: NYC 1880-1924 The Migration Process

A quick swipe of a finger allows the user to browse thumbnails of related documents.  For example, in the section titled “Earning a Living,” photographs of children working in tenements, an article from the Brooklyn Standard Union about the role of immigrants in certain industries, and a protest following the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire are available.

The New Immigrants: NYC 1880-1924 Earning a Living

Click on any of these documents thumbnails, and a document detail page loads providing background information about the document.  On this page, users can also zoom in and crop the document, find text-based questions for a variety of grade levels and even add the document to their own collections.  The document detail page also provides Tags that link to other related documents. For example, the Passenger arrival manifest of the SS Nevada, the first ship processed at Ellis Island on January 1, 1892, is tagged with terms such as Arrival, Ellis Island, and Push-Pull Factors.

New Immigrants Document Detail

For teachers using the app, each document has several text-dependent questions that require students to analyze and look deep within the document for answers.  With the photograph of demonstration protesting and mourning the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, questions tiered for all grades are provided.

Photo Oct 27, 4 52 31 PMJust a quick tap on the plus sign on the document details page allows teachers and students to create their own collections of related documents.  These collections can then be explored by within the app itself or shared via email with others (including non-iPad users) as a downloadable PDF.  For example, users could create and share a collection of just the National Archives documents included within the app to have their students gain a better sense of the changing Federal role in immigration during this time period.

The New Immigrants Collections

For teachers that want their students to explore the topic of immigration through a deeper Document Based Question (DBQ), several are provided for each grade level that focus on a specific theme in the study of immigration.  For each of these DBQs, related historical thinking skill standards and Common Core State Standards strands are provided.  In the performance task designed for 8th graders titled “The Immigrant Experience on New York’s Lower East Side”, students are given 10 documents from the collection and are tasked to write a newspaper article that cites specific evidence from at least four of these documents to explain the opportunities and challenges of the immigrant experience.

The New Immigrants: Teaching ImmigationEach activity also includes a short “Ken Burns” style documentary narrated by Historian Edward T. O’Donnell to provide some historical context and educational scaffolding to the primary source documents.

The New Immigrants: Teaching Immigration


Reviews and comments in iTunes for the app have been overwhelmingly positive with 23 five star reviews.  User nwonderful resource for teachers, students and history buffs. It’s amazing to have all of these primary documents literally at your fingertips.”  And Missbiss1980 called it an “inspiring teacher resource” that led her to develop a new project for her students to analyze primary sources and create documentaries using iMovie.

Download it today!: The New Immigrants: NYC 1880-1924 on the App Store on iTunes.