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Keeping It Current Newsletter

This Month in History: August

Extend your social studies instruction with informative and inspiring content from HMH®, HISTORY®, Google® Field Trips, and the Center for Civic Education. Each month we bring you videos, articles, and current events designed to build cultural awareness, media literacy, and a deeper understanding of significant historical figures and events.

Resources for August

  • Videos, articles, lessons, and more from our partners at HISTORY and the Center for Civic Education
  • 100th Anniversary of the Passage of the 19th Amendment
  • National Navajo Code Talkers Day
  • V-J Day
  • Election 2020
  • Google Field Trips
  • News articles for elementary and secondary classrooms

Use the tabs on the left to explore this month's resources.

Classroom Resources from HMH

100th Anniversary of the Passage of the 19th Amendment 
August 18, 2020

When the founding fathers drafted the Constitution after the American Revolution, they gave states the power to determine who could vote. At first states only gave the vote to men who owned property or paid taxes. By the early nineteenth century most states had extended voting rights to all adult men. After the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, White and Black men were entitled to vote (in theory if not in practice). But all women, even women who owned property and paid taxes, were excluded from voting.

Women started campaigning for the right to vote in the 1840s and 1850s. They worked with abolitionist leaders, seeking the vote for former slaves and for women. But the leaders of the women’s movement felt betrayed when the Fifteenth Amendment was passed without any reference to a vote for women. Women formed two groups to fight for their right to vote. The National Woman Suffrage Association sought to enact a federal law guaranteeing women the vote. The National American Woman Suffrage Association worked to secure the vote for women gradually, state by state. The two groups merged in 1890.

Wyoming, a territory at the time, gave women the right to vote in 1869. By 1919, about 30 states had granted women voting rights of some kind. Some states allowed women to vote in municipal (city) elections and for presidential electors, but did not allow women to vote in elections for state or federal government. Others gave women the right to vote in all elections. On August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution ensured women the right to vote in all elections. It stated, in the same language as the Fifteenth Amendment, "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States on account of sex."

National Navajo Code Talkers Day 
August 14

Encryption machines were not a practical tool in the jungles of the Pacific theater during World War II. Still, encoded messages needed to move from the battle lines to artillery positions, air bases, and ships. The solution to this dilemma was Native Americans who spoke the Navajo language.

"Navajo code talkers", as they became known, would use English code words translated into their language to relay messages. This method of encrypted communication was never cracked by the Japanese military. The code talkers risked their lives in some of the fiercest battles of the Pacific theater. They were never allowed to discuss the code and their jobs were classified information. The code talkers' role in World War II would not become public knowledge until much later.

For their bravery and service, President Ronald Reagan declared August 14 as National Navajo Code Talkers Day.

Related Links

  • The Navajo Code (external link)
    A detailed history of the training and success of the Navajo Code Talkers. Includes some examples of the codes used during World War II.
  • Navajo Code Talkers (external link)
    See the true historical accounts and hear the actual Navajo Code Talkers tell their stories.

Election Connection 2020
Explore Now

Election Connection LogoInspire your students to become active and informed citizens with HMH Election Connection!

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt® brings you a dynamic new online resource to engage and inform your social studies students. HMH Election Connection provides you with a comprehensive, one-stop information hub so that you can

  • Provide current, balanced coverage of the 2020 election and responsible content appropriate for Grades 6–12
  • Engage students with innovative digital resources including HISTORY videos, WebQuests, study guides, readers, and comprehensive primary source selections
  • Extend instruction with quality resources available through HMH partnerships with HISTORY and the Center for Civic Education

Monthly Shaped Blog Activities

Monthly Civil Rights Blog with Activities
Examine the history of women's suffrage and download a sample chapter of the new book Finish the Fight with an accompanying Educator's Guide.

Teaching Civil Rights: Women's Suffrage

Monthly Elections Blog with Activities
Use the downloadable infographic and analysis questions to enhance instruction about elections with your students.

Teaching Elections: History of Political Parties

Free Classroom Resources from HISTORY


V-J Day

On August 14, 1945, it was announced that Japan had surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, effectively ending World War II. Since then, both August 14 and August 15 have been known as "Victory over Japan Day," or simply "V-J Day." The term has also been used for September 2, 1945, when Japan's formal surrender took place aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay. Coming several months after the surrender of Nazi Germany, Japan's capitulation in the Pacific brought six years of hostilities to a final and highly anticipated close.

HMH Field Trips Powered by Google Expeditions

Add a Whole New Dimension to Social Studies!

Explore Women's Suffrage. Bring experiential learning into your social studies lessons without ever leaving the classroom. Download the Teacher's Guide to learn more!

Center for Civic Education

Students Take Action from the Center for Civic Education

The Students Take Action service-learning feature relates stories of students who have participated in the Center for Civic Education's Project Citizen program, which encourages students to take part in state or local government and learn how to monitor and influence public policy. Help your students become active and engaged citizens in their own communities with these resources.

Center for Civic Education

HMH In the News and Current Events

Hmhinthenews.com is a great resource for elementary classrooms with fun articles about what's going on in the news. This website delivers age-appropriate current events stories about people, communities, the United States, and the world every month. Come back often for new stories, spotlight features, and polls.

Hmhcurrentevents.com enriches your secondary classroom with subject-specific information from world history, world geography, American history, economics, psychology, sociology, civics, government, and African American history. It also spotlights today's headlines with activities, web links, and the HMH Election Connection.

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