North Carolina Digital History is a “digital textbook” for North Carolina history — or for United States history told largely through a North Carolina lens — designed for middle, secondary, and college students, built by LEARN NC. I conceived the project and served as editor and lead historian during its development from 1997 to 2010 (and also designed and built the content management system on which it’s built).
North Carolina Digital History is available entirely on the web and entirely for free. With some 800 web pages, it’s essentially a digital library that’s customizable for each classroom, with a front end that offers the familiar format of a textbook. Much of that collection is primary sources, which are made central to the learning experience rather than being left for a sidebar. Because it’s on the web, the textbook relies on multimedia whenever possible to supplement or replace text — photographs, maps, illustrations, data tables, diagrams; audio of oral history interviews, music, and speeches; documentaries, newsreels, reenactments, and original film of historic events. Most topics combine background reading with documentary sources and multimedia.
To help students and teachers make use of this wealth of material, each primary source comes with historical background, reading questions, and mouseover commentary on difficult or interesting passages. A built-in glossary provides mouseover access to definitions. We also provide learners’ and educators’ guides for working with various types of primary sources and, of course, lesson plans.