Voices of a People's History
Voices of a People's History

TEACHING GUIDE

Teaching Guide – All Chapters in One PDF
Voices of a People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove is a symphony of our nation’s original voices, an embodiment of the power of civil disobedience and dissent wherein lies our nation’s true spirit of defiance and resilience.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 1 – “Columbus and Las Casas”
The first chapter in Voices provides students with a perspective that many have never encountered. By reading the words of Christopher Columbus, Bartolome de Las Casas, and Eduardo Galeano, students experience a wide array of emotions. The ensuing discussions may be painful, yet they are also enlightening.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 2 – “The First Slaves”
One of the problems with telling the history of slavery from the standpoint of the victors is that the stories often paint a benign picture of the “peculiar institution” of slavery. While most of our students are quick to condemn such an interpretation, very few know much about the way enslaved African Americans felt about bondage.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 3 – “Servitude and Rebellion”
Rebellion within the American colonies prior to the Revolutionary War is a topic seldom discussed in American history classes. Yet the fiery rhetoric of freedom and the brave actions of many colonists eventually defeated the military might of the most powerful nation in the Western world.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 4 – “Preparing the Revolution”
In most of our history courses, students learn about brave patriots who prepared for the Revolutionary War by uniting against a tyrannical king and oppressive English laws….
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 5 – “Half a Revolution”
Independence, it seems, did not bring an end to the fighting between various “factions.” … Indeed, a revolution in its entirely would have required an end to class conflict by welcoming American Indians into North American society, outlawing slavery, and granting equal rights to American women—in other words, creating a new society characterized by economic, social, racial, and political e
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 6 – “The Early Women’s Movement”
Students always shake their heads in total disbelief when they are reminded that women have had the right to vote for only just over eighty years. They are even more amazed when they read the fiery words and learn about the brave actions of women who dared to speak out against oppression in the early nineteenth century.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 7 – “Indian Removal”
“Manifest Destiny”: The phrase is evocative of so many things that Euro-Americans call progress: populating the west with hard-working settlers, expanding profitable agriculture and industry, sharing the attributes of democracy and Christianity, and removing the Indians. For the American Indian people, however, such “progress” brought cultural, political, economic, and spiritual genocide.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 8 – “The War on Mexico”
In his book Occupied America, Rodolfo Acuña argues that Anglo-Americans invaded Mexico for the sole purpose of forging an economically profitable North American empire. In justifying their use of conquest and violence to bring about progress, bitterness arose between two people—a bitterness that actually “gave birth to a legacy of hate.”
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 9 – “Slavery and Defiance”
In the PBS documentary Africans in America, historian Margaret Washington says, “In some ways, when you enslave a person, you enslave yourself.” If everyone in pre-Civil War society was victimized by slavery, it should come as no surprise that some Americans, both black and white, resisted the “peculiar institution
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 10 – “Civil War and Class Conflict”
“Class conflict?” many students ask, “What does the Civil War have to do with class conflict?” Indeed, among the thousands of books that dissect the Civil War from almost every angle, most fail to examine what was happening within the divided nations during the four years the two sides waged war upon one another.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 11 – “Strikers and Populists in the Gilded Age”
The ordinary people who lived through the Gilded Age … experienced tremendous hardships and losses. Whether they lived in the rapidly industrializing cities where they had few services and even fewer amenities, or in small rural communities where they were victimized by grueling poverty, their hardships were similar.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 12 – “The Expansion of the Empire”
From the first days of English settlement, the boundaries of the New World were shaped by expansionist policies that pushed out the Indians, drove out the French and the Spanish, and eventually overwhelmed the Mexicans.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 13 – “Socialists and Wobblies”
Today’s generation of young adults have a difficult time imagining the early twentieth century. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a time when there were 100,000 registered Socialists, 1,200 of whom held elected offices.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 14 – “Protesting the First World War”
Evocative primary source documents are especially important to our discussions of World War I. While any analysis of the war “to make the world safe for democracy” demonstrates the downward spiral into militaristic violence that ushered in a century of unparallel destruction, most traditional discussions are devoid of antiwar voices and actions
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 15 – “From the Jazz Age to the Uprisings of the 1930s”
In most of our textbooks, the 1920s and the 1930s are the most mythologized years of the twentieth century. While it is true that 1920s were a “roaring” good time for some people, it is equally true that the decade was bleak for many others.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 16 – “World War II and McCarthyism”
Was World War II the “good war”? In the twenty-first century, young people increasingly wonder if war can ever be “good.”
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 17 – “The Black Upsurge Against Racial Segregation”
In 1950, about two percent of all African Americans in the southern states were registered to vote, black children attended schools with few of the basic amenities needed to create a true learning environment, and all southern blacks were forced to use separate and unequal public facilities. In was in these circumstances that the civil-rights movement began.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 18 – “Vietnam and Beyond: The Historic Resistance”
In the 1960s, while the United States intensified its military intervention in Vietnam, the domestic anti-war movement grew in both size and seriousness. Poor and minority citizens were among the first to recognize that the goals of the United States government in Vietnam were contrary to their own goal of social justice within United States society.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 19 – “Women, Gays, and Other Voices of Resistance”
In most of our classrooms, discussions of movements of the 1960s generally focus on those big endeavors—civil rights and the antiwar efforts—that are discussed in the traditional textbooks. Yet this approach, as Howard Zinn reminds us, omits an essential topic for discussion—the emergence of a counterculture with “radically different ideas about how people should live their lives.”
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 20 – “Losing Control in the 1970s”
Students continue to feel the effects of the 1970s in their everyday lives. The twin catastrophic events early in the decade—the tragic ending of the Vietnam War and the scandals of Watergate—shocked the nation and rocked the foundations of our fundamental belief in government.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 21 – “The Carter–Reagan–Bush Consensus”
Chapter 21 in Voices, “The Carter–Reagan–Bush Consensus,” provides readers with a perspective that allows them to better understand present-day America. Historians often mistakenly dismiss the importance of the recent past as less than history, merely current events.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 22 – “Panama, The 1991 Gulf War, and the War at Home”
The selections in Chapter 22 are a vital tool for showing students the darker side of United States military intervention and the role the media play in keeping it secret. It is a side we won’t see on TV but will hear about from the ordinary soldiers and citizens like those in this book.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 23 – “Challenging Bill Clinton”
The voices in this chapter speak to the opposition that arose to many of the domestic and foreign policies of the Clinton administration. They remind us that in a democracy, it is important that the people be vigilant and vocal when examining the leadership of their sitting presidents.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 24 – “Bush II and the ‘War on Terror’ ”
The voices in this chapter … ask us to listen carefully to the reasons the Bush administration gave for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They ask us to learn from our past mistakes and to question governmental decisions that have lead us into new wars.
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Teaching Guide – Chapter 25 – “War and Injustice: People Speak Out”
The voices in this chapter include an Iraq War veteran, the mother of a son who was killed in Iraq, the brother who lost his sibling who died of “friendly fire” in Afghanistan, and the twelve-year-old daughter of lesbian parents offer clear evidence that to them and their families, injustice still exists in the United States.
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