When Did Schools Begin Teaching American History?

American history is a fascinating subject that has been taught in schools for centuries. But when did schools begin teaching American history? Let’s explore the history of teaching this important subject and how it has evolved over time.

Early Years of American Education

In the early years of American education, there were no formal requirements for teaching American history. Schools focused mainly on reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, some schools did offer courses in history and geography as part of their curriculum.

The Rise of Public Education

The rise of public education in the 19th century brought about a renewed focus on teaching American history. Schools began to adopt a standardized curriculum that included courses in history, geography, and civics. These courses were designed to instill a sense of patriotism and pride in American students.

The Civil War Era

During the Civil War era, there was a significant push to teach American history as a way to promote national unity. The war had divided the country, and educators believed that teaching students about America’s past could help heal those divisions.

The Progressive Era

In the early 20th century, the Progressive movement brought about significant changes in American education. One of these changes was a renewed emphasis on social studies and history. Educators believed that teaching students about America’s past could help prepare them for the future.

The 20th Century

Throughout the 20th century, American schools continued to teach American history as part of their curriculum. However, there were significant shifts in how this subject was taught. For example, during World War II, schools began to focus more on teaching students about America’s role in global affairs.

  • In the 1950s and 60s, schools began to incorporate more diverse perspectives into their history curriculum.
  • In the 1970s and 80s, there was a renewed focus on teaching about the Civil Rights Movement and other social justice issues.
  • Today, American history is taught in many different ways, with an emphasis on critical thinking and analysis.

The Future of American History Education

As we look to the future, it’s clear that American history education will continue to evolve. With advances in technology and changes in the political landscape, educators will need to find new ways to engage students with this important subject.


In conclusion, schools have been teaching American history for centuries. From the early years of American education to the present day, this subject has been a crucial part of our curriculum. As we move forward, it’s important to continue exploring new ways to teach this subject and ensure that future generations have a deep understanding of America’s past.