When Did Schools Teach American History?

American history is an important subject taught in schools across the United States. It covers the rich and complex history of the country, from the arrival of the first Native Americans to the present day.

But when did schools start teaching American history? Let’s take a look.

Early Education in America

In colonial times, education was primarily conducted at home by parents or tutors. Schools were scarce, and those that did exist focused on religious instruction rather than secular subjects like history. It wasn’t until the early 19th century that public schools began to emerge in America.

The Emergence of Public Schools

The first public school in America was founded in Boston in 1635, but it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that public education became more widespread. As public schools grew in number, so did their curriculum. History was included as a subject of study, but it was often limited to local or state history rather than American history as a whole.

American History Becomes a Standard Subject

It wasn’t until the late 1800s and early 1900s that American history became a standard subject in schools across the country. This was due in part to efforts by historians and educators who believed that students needed a strong understanding of their country’s past to be informed citizens.

In 1898, for example, Congress passed a law requiring all public schools receiving federal funding to teach American history. This law helped ensure that American history would be taught consistently across the country.

The Evolution of American History Education

Over time, American history education has evolved and changed along with society itself. In recent decades, there has been more emphasis on teaching diverse perspectives and incorporating new research into our understanding of US history.

Today, most states require students to take at least one course in US history before graduating high school. This course typically covers major events and themes in American history, from the colonial period to the present day.


In conclusion, schools have been teaching American history for well over a century. From its early days as a limited subject to its current status as a standard part of the curriculum, American history education has played an important role in shaping students’ understanding of their country’s past.