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Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

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Dear Educator:

We hope you and your students have had an opportunity to visit "A Brush with History: Paintings from the National Portrait Gallery." This teacher resource guide is a counterpart to the exhibition and provides an in-depth exploration of selected historical figures and their contributions to the history of the United States. We hope you will find that the educational value of the exhibition is enhanced by using the resource guide in your classroom. The questions and activities found here are designed to promote the national standards for United States history and can be adapted for grades five through twelve.

The guide is organized into the following three thematic units:

  • From Revolution to Constitution

  • Those Inventive Americans!

  • Abolition and the Civil War

Each unit contains background information about the individuals and their portraits, related questions and activities, a bibliography, and a reproduction of each portrait. The activities focus on historical thinking skills as outlined in the national standards for United States history, but also include reading, writing, geography, math, and art skills as appropriate.

Please feel free to make copies of the "Brush with History" teacher resource guide as needed. We appreciate your taking a few moments to complete the included evaluation form, and we welcome submission of your own ideas or lesson plans based on the exhibition.

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