Preserving American Freedom

The Evolution of American Liberties in Fifty Documents



"Come and Join Us, Brothers," lithograph for Camp William Penn, 1854

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The digital history project Preserving American Freedom presents a selection of 50 treasured documents that illustrate the exercise and denial of freedom throughout our nation’s history. Each of these primary sources is tied in some way to the theme of freedom. Freedom as an overarching theme allows teachers of grades K-12 great leeway in incorporating these documents into the curriculums of United States History, World History, and several other academic fields.

The concept of freedom provides teachers with an engaging topic that can be traced from the 15th century to the current day. Freedom can serve as a central theme for students in a year-long discussion on the evolving meaning and interpretation of this concept within the history of the United States. To guide teachers through this odyssey of historical inquiry, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) provides lesson plans and assignments for teachers to use within the framework of their school standards or curriculums.

The educators' component of the Preserving American Freedom project is intended to suit the needs of all teachers, from the novice to master and to develop several traditional and non-traditional lessons, projects, and assignments. For teachers new to using primary sources in the classroom, the lesson plans and guides may serve as an introduction to teaching with primary sources. These teachers are encouraged to use the plans and all the accompanying material on the website. All of the documents can be incorporated as a companion piece to a district-issued textbook. The more experienced teacher may want to edit or alter the provided lesson plans to fit his/her class or individual plans.

Preserving American Freedom ultimately is designed to benefit teachers, students, historians, and citizens. The educational possibilities are endless given the significance of the documents and the authors and organizations that wrote and published these works. Please take the time to search this section for lesson plans, recommendations, and guides to better serve you in the classroom. Hopefully, all of your students will participate and enjoy the experience of Preserving American Freedom.