Flower

Posts Tagged ‘United States’

When the U.S. and Russia Played Let’s Make a Deal

Alaska Purchase Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

The discussion of recent U.S.-Russia relations is a good opportunity to share the history of relations between the two countries with your students.  A significant event in this history is the Alaska Purchase which occurred 150 years ago when the relationship between the two countries was perhaps more allied than it is now.  Considered a “folly” by some at the time, the acquisition of Alaska added over 586,000 square miles of new land to the growing United States.

Russia had been a player in the Alaskan territory since the mid-1700s.  By the mid-1800s, Russia was having financial difficulties after its defeat in the Crimean War, and the territory had become a burden.  Russia decided to put the unprofitable and indefensible territory on the market.  The United States seemed the only potential buyer.  In March 1867, armed with instructions to accept no less than $5 million for Alaska, the Russian minister to America, Edouard de Stoeckl, was surprised when Secretary of State William Seward came in with just that for a first offer.  By the time negotiations were over, the U.S. offer was up to $7.2 million.  On March 30, 1867, the United States became the proud owner of a seemingly barren land.

U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

Tsar’s Ratification of the Alaska Purchase [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not everyone was as enthusiastic about the deal as William Seward was.  He was a proponent of territorial expansion and could see the potential in Alaska’s natural resources that skeptics who referred to the deal as Seward’s Folly or Seward’s Icebox could not.  The deal, though, was a good one for the U.S. averaging to less than two cents per acre.  It remains the second-largest land deal ever.  In 1880, Seward’s vision would be vindicated when gold was discovered paving the way for population growth, new towns, and statehood.

Your students can learn more about the Alaska Purchase and the major players by starting with eLibrary.  One excellent resource is the book, The Alaska Purchase.  It covers everything from Alaska’s “discovery” by the Russians to its statehood in 1959.  Consider this lesson from the Library of Congress for your students to dig deeper into using primary sources.

Fun Fact:  While you cannot see Russia from Sarah Palin’s home in Wasilla, you can see it from Little Diomede in the Bering Strait.  The island is 2.5 miles from its Russian counterpart Big Diomede.  You can also see Russian mainland from the top of St. Lawrence Island about 37 miles away as well as some Siberian mountains from Cape Prince of Wales, the westernmost point of the American mainland.

eLibrary’s editor‐created Research Topics give content, context and pathways beginning users need to start researching U.S.-Russia relations and other topics.

Don’t have eLibrary? Free trials are available.

December 7, 1941: Infamy at Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Pearl Harbor Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan.”

With those words, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for a declaration of war against Japan.  Seventy-five years ago tomorrow Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaii Territory.  The surprising assault came in the early hours of a tranquil Sunday morning, and it hastened the United States’ entry into World War II.  Over 2,400 servicemen and civilians lost their lives that day.  For the Greatest Generation, Pearl Harbor was their September 11th.

The attack at Pearl Harbor was a pivotal moment in American history.  Until December 7, 1941, the United States’ policy regarding World War II was one of isolation.  The provocation by the Japanese that day transformed America from the once fourteenth-ranked military power to the world’s leading superpower.  It moved the United States to be more involved on the world stage.

Very few, if any, American military and government leaders thought Pearl Harbor would ever be attacked.  It was believed to be “the strongest fortress in the world” and too far from Japan.  The Philippines was a more likely target.  Two waves of Japanese Zero fighters, more than 350 in total, launched from six aircraft carriers within 300 miles of the Hawaiian islands took aim at Battleship Row and Hickam Airfield where over 300 American warbirds stood tip to tip.  Japan’s goal was to prevent the United States from hindering its military actions in Southeast Asia by neutralizing the U.S. Pacific Fleet.  In just 90 minutes, Japan devastated the American forces at Pearl Harbor.  The attack was a great tactical victory for the Japanese.

The numbers were staggering: 2,403 lives lost, 1,178 wounded, five battleships sunk and almost 200 planes destroyed.  The sight of the sunken USS Arizona remains one of the most iconic images of that day.  To this day, 1,177 men lie at rest in her remains on the harbor floor.

Department of the Navy [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Wreckage of the USS Arizona [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

The numbers of World War II veterans dwindle each day and their personal accounts go with them.  To read their stories and learn more about the attack at Pearl Harbor, search eLibrary and its vast resources of timely newspapers, magazine articles and primary source materials.

Related Research Topics

World War II

Japan in World War II

U.S. Navy

 

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 70 Years Since the Atomic Bomb

August 6, 1945 and August 9, 1945 saw the only times a nuclear weapon has been used during war.  It was on these dates the United States dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively.  The mass destruction killed nearly 138,000 Japanese men, women and children in Hiroshima and 74,000 in Nagasaki, but the death toll would continue to rise in later years as the effects of radiation became known.  Hiroshima and Nagasaki lay in ruins and World War II with Japan effectively ended.

Destruction of Hiroshima After the Dropping of the Atomic Bomb

Hiroshima After the Atomic Bomb [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

A military base and city of 343,000, Hiroshima was the primary atomic bomb target.  The bomb was dropped by the Enola Gay around 8:15 a.m.  What followed was “a blinding flash in the sky, and a great rush of air.”  Within two minutes 60 percent of the city was destroyed.  Radio in Tokyo described the scene as one of ruins and with so many dead there would be no way to count all of them.

Atomic Cloud Over Nagasaki

Atomic Cloud Over Nagasaki [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

Nagasaki was an industrial port city and had a population of approximately 258,000.  It became the second city ravaged by nuclear warfare when the atomic bomb was dropped at 11:00 a.m. on August 9.  The scene was described in colorful terms as a flash of “bluish-green light” and “pillar of purple fire.”  Nearly 74,000 were killed and the same number injured.

The reason for using the bomb, according to President Truman, was to end the war with Japan swiftly and more importantly to save the lives of American service members.  While that argument has been debated, the impact of the bomb did lead to the Japanese surrender on August 15.

United States Research Projects

This is the time of year for class projects. My daughter’s 3rd grade class was assigned a project for social studies. Each student chooses a state in the U.S. and once the project is complete, they present it to the class. There are 38 students in both 3rd grade classes, so they were able to cover most of the states. Some students used poster board with pictures and text (see photo below), some constructed dioramas, and others wrote a report and brought in photos and postcards. The teacher encouraged the students to wear clothes associated with the assigned state, or to bring in foods common in that state. I think this is a great way to learn new information about the United States.

TN state project

Tennessee State Project
Image by Jennifer Oms

Something that helped my daughter while she was doing her research was SIRS Discoverer Country Facts and CultureGrams States Edition. These products offer wonderful information on each state in the U.S.

SIRS Discoverer State Facts includes a statehood timeline, map and flag, state symbol photos, population information, and more! In addition, SIRS Discoverer offers Country Facts and Canada Facts.

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer: Country Facts--Tennessee

ProQuest SIRS Discoverer: Country Facts–Tennessee

 

CultureGrams States Edition includes a detailed map of each state, flag, symbols, interesting facts about each state, population information, history, and more. CultureGrams also offers the Provinces Edition, World Edition, and Kids Edition.

CultureGrams States Edition

ProQuest CultureGrams: States Edition

Both products offer beautiful, full-color, printable PDFs for each state. Next time your students have a class project, turn to SIRS Discoverer and CultureGrams!

How do you approach research of U.S. states in your classroom? Comment below or tweet us at #ProQuest.

CultureGrams State Bird Song Quiz

Cardinal

You probably haven’t ever taken a quiz quite like this one before, unless you are a bird watcher. But below are links to audio files of bird songs of some of the most popular state birds in the United States. For each audio file, we’ll give you a hint. So read the hint, listen to the audio file, and guess the bird that the song belongs to.

  1. This bird song belongs to the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
  2. This bird song belongs to the state bird of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.
  3. This bird song belongs to the state bird of Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, and Wyoming.
  4. This  bird song belongs to the state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio., Virginia, and West Virginia

So how did you do? We’ll put the correct answers in the Comment section below the quiz.

With the CultureGrams States Edition, you can learn to identify the official state bird songs for each state and the District of Columbia. From the landing page for any state, simply click on the category of State Symbols (under Fun Facts & Contacts). When the list of state symbols comes up, find the designated state bird and click on “Listen to the state bird song.” An audio file of the state bird song will play.

March Is Women’s History Month

Rosie the RiveterRosie the Riveter proudly proclaimed, “Yes, we can do it!”  Women in the United States have contributed much to our country and to the world.  March is the annual celebration of the lives and achievements of women in the United States.  In 1857 when women in New York City protested working conditions, thus began observances of Women’s History Month.  Observances became official in 1981 when Congress authorized National Women’s History Week.  The week became a month in 1987.  It coincides with International Women’s Day which is recognized on March 8 each year.

 Women have been instrumental in government and politics, education, the arts, science and public service since the beginnings of the country.  From Deborah Sampson who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Revolutionary War to Sally Ride who became the first woman in space, American women have proved themselves admirably through the years. 

To learn more about many fascinating American women, go to eLibrary.  eLibrary has an abundance of information for research.  Not only are there publications dedicated to women and women’s history and issues, but there are also Research Topics–from historic and contemporary figures and issues like the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act–which provide jumping-off points to learning more about women in America (and around the world).  Search reference books like American Women’s History: A Student Companion and Her Heritage: A Biographical Encyclopedia of Famous American Women for encyclopedic information.  Scholarly journals such as the Journal of Women’s History serve a higher academic level.  No matter what you are looking for, eLibrary offers it and more.