Wisconsin's 20 special observance days are part of state statutes governing general school operations. Observance days can be part of a rich social studies curriculum that gives these individuals and events proper emphasis, both in the context of Wisconsin and U.S. history and in relation to their effect on or improvement of our political, economic, and social institutions. This Surf Report provides links for each observance day to help your students learn about the people and events we celebrate on these days.
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September 16: Mildred Fish Harnack DayHonoring Mildred Fish Harnack from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Library Archives provides an interactive timeline of Harnack's life and accomplishments.
Mildred Fish-Harnack: Back to Berlin from Channel 3000 features articles, slideshows and a video about Harnack.
Mildred Harnack features information and photographs about Harnack's life. The Web site presents stories of people from the Mdwest and Germany or Austria during World War II.
The Ploetzensee Memorial Center features a brief biography of Harnack.
September 16: POW-MIA Recognition DayThe U.S. Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) provides information on National POW/MIA Recognition Day, including a downloadable color poster. Among other features are the texts of speeches and the history of the National League of POW/MIA Families' POW/MIA Flag.
The Library of Congress provides a Vietnam-Era Prisoner of War/ Missing in Action Database. Users may search using a name, country, or other key word or view summary reports showing the number of Americans still unaccounted for in Asia.
The MIA Issue, from PBS's Vietnam Online, provides background for some of the issues and controversy concerning soldiers who may still be missing in action in Southeast Asia.
Return with Honor is a PBS American Experience program about American prisoners of war during the Vietnam war. The companion Web site includes primary source documents such as the POW's code of conduct and the Geneva Conventions, a map and descriptions of prisons around Hanoi, drawings by a POW, and a description of the tap code prisoners used to communicate. Also included are a timeline and a teacher's guide with activities for history, economics, geography, and civics.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a long, black granite wall etched with the names of over 57,000 men and women who died or were missing in the Vietnam War. This site from the National Park Service provides information about the memorial and its legacy.
The Virtual Wall, from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, allows users to view the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall or search for names on the wall.
September 17: U.S. Constitution DayBen's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids from the U.S. Government Printing Office provides information about the Constitution and the formation of the U.S. government tailored for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12.
The Charters of Freedom from the National Archives and Records Administration provides information about the Constitution and the delegates to the Constitutional Convention, as well as images of the original document.
Argument Wars is a game that teaches students about landmark Supreme Court cases by clarifying key constitutional rights. Students play a lawyer and argue one side or the other of a specific issue.
Teaching With Documents: Observing Constitution Day from the Library of Congress features lessons and links to primary source documents.
EDSITEment from the National Endowment for the Humanities offers lesson plans and resources for Constitution Day. Additional Constitution Day lessons from other Thinkfinity partner sites can be found on Today in History: September 17.
September 21: Wisconsin DayOur own Wisconsin Surf Reports provide hundreds of links on Wisconsin's history, government and culture.
Wednesday of the 4th week in September: Bullying Awareness DayVisit our Bullying Surf Report provides links to many bullying awareness and prevention resources.
September 28: Francis Willard DayFrances E. Willard from the Wisconsin Electronic Reader features historical photographs and an account of Willard's life. The History of the Women's Christian Temperance Union provides information on Willard and the movement she founded.
Temperance and Prohibition from the Library of Congress "Today in History" archive includes some information about Willard and links to a photograph and texts of some of her speeches.
Frances E. Willard from the Ohio State University History Department provides a biography, photograph and transcript of an interview with Willard.
October 9: Leif Ericson DayVikings Discovery and Landing from Canada's Digital Collections includes the story of Viking discoveries and the Saga of Eric the Red and his son Leif Erikson.
The Viking Age from the Government of Norway provides a history of Viking culture and exploration written by a Norwegian history professor. The Explorers provides additional information.
Leif Ericsson from the Mariners Museum Exploration Through the Ages website provides materials for teachers and students of grades 5 to 12. The site includes a map and timeline of the Age of Exploration.
October 12: Christopher Columbus DayColumbus Day from the Library of Congress "Today in History" archive presents the history of the holiday, with many links to historic documents and photographs.
An Ongoing Voyage is an electronic exhibit from the Library of Congress, which examines effects of Columbus' voyage and the resulting contacts between American people and Europeans from 1492 to 1600. The site includes many historical maps and illustrations.
The Columbus Navigation Homepage, from amateur historian Keith Pickering, gives a comprehensive explanation of how Columbus navigated, as well as information about his ships, his crew and his four voyages.
The Columbus Letter from the Osher Map Library at the University of Maine features a reproduction of Columbus's letter announcing the success of his voyage to the "islands of the India Sea." The site also includes a transcription, background information, interactive maps and more.
Extracts from the Journal of Christopher Columbus from Fordham University's Medieval Sourcebook provides translated text of some of Columbus' writings.
November 1: Veterans Day
Today in History: November 11 from the Library of Congress presents the history of the holiday, with many links to historic documents and photographs (scroll down for Veteran's Day information).
Veterans Day from the U.S. Army presents a history of the holiday and a message from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Official Site of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States a teacher resource guide to Veterans Day, as well as VA Kids' site.
Peace and War is a previous Surf Report that supplies many links useful for Veteran's Day activities.
January 15: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President's national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. Visit this site to find or register a service project with your class.
Martin Luther King from the Seattle Times offers information about King and his legacy, including a history of the holiday, timelines, audio clips of King’s speeches, an interactive quiz, and a study guide.
Today in History: January 15 from the Library of Congress presents information about the holiday and links to historic documents and photographs about King and the civil rights movement.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project from Stanford University includes numerous primary and secondary source documents on King.
We Shall Overcome: Historic Places from the Civil Rights Movement comes from the National Park Service and takes visitors on an electronic tour of places across the country that were important to the civil rights movement
The King Center Web site provides biographies of Dr. and Mrs. King, as well as information about the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.
Black History Month is a Surf Report with links to numerous Internet resources about the civil rights movement and African-American history and culture.
February 12: Abraham Lincoln DayAbraham Lincoln from the Library of Congress features information about Lincoln written for younger students.
The Lincoln Home National Historic Site Web site from the National Park Service offers a virtual tour of the Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois, information about Lincoln and his family, and selections from his writings about slavery.
The History Place Presents Abraham Lincoln chronicles Lincoln’s life using an interactive timeline, photos, and text of Lincoln’s writings and speeches, including the Gettysburg Address.
Emancipation Proclamation from the Library of Congress Web site displays the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation in Lincoln’s own handwriting.
Mr. Lincoln’s Virtual Library highlights two collections at the Library of Congress that illuminate the life of Abraham Lincoln. The Abraham Lincoln Papers features correspondence and other papers, and The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana includes sheet-music compositions that represent Lincoln and the Civil War, as well as books, pamphlets, cartoons, maps, and other memorabilia.
The Gettysburg Address from the Library of Congress features original documents and photographs concerning this famous Lincoln speech.
Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies from the Library of Congress gives access to historic prints and photographs.
February 15: Susan B. Anthony DayThis Web site for the PBS documentary Not for Ourselves Alone takes a multimedia look at the roles Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony played in the U.S. women’s suffrage movement. It also includes lesson plans, biographies, and primary source documents, as well as a version for younger students.
The Susan B. Anthony House Web site includes a biography and timeline of Anthony's life, as well as a virtual tour of the house where she lived from 1866 until her death in 1906.
The Library of Congress’s Today in History: March 8 online archive supplies information about Anthony with many links to historic documents and photographs.
The Stanton and Anthony Papers Project provides three versions of the remarks Anthony made to the judge at her famous trial for illegal voting.
Votes for Women Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920 features historical photographs and a timeline of the events that led to suffrage.
Susan B. Anthony, Defendant from the Library of Congress exhibits Anthony's personal copy of the account of her trial for voting illegally.
The lesson plan for Susan B. Anthony Day from Utah State University is designed for students in grades 3 and 4.
February 22: George Washington Day
The Today in History: February 22 online archive from the Library of Congress supplies information about Washington with many links to historic documents and photographs.
George Washington's World for Kids is an online game from the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. Students can explore a 3D Mount Vernon in search of artifacts, meet the people who lived and worked on Washington's estate, and serve as gun captain at the siege of Yorktown.
George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens provides detailed biographical information, an image gallery, an online quiz about Washington, virtual tours of the Mount Vernon house and grounds, as well as a multimedia look at Washington’s lesser-known role as a “pioneer farmer.”
George Washington from the Library of Congress is an account of George Washington’s life designed for younger students.
George Washington: A National Treasure from the Smithsonian Insitution presents the life and times of the first president. It includes a timeline of his life, a teacher guide, and kids' section with an interactive activity involving Washington's portrait.
The George Washington Papers, 1741-1799 from the Library of Congress includes about 65,000 documents, such as correspondence, commonplace books, diaries, financial account books, and military records. This site also provides a timeline and an account of Washington’s life.
This Washington Monument Home Page from the National Park Service offers information about the newly restored monument and the man whom the structure memorializes.
The Biography of George Washington from the White House gives a brief biography of our nation’s first president.
Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies, 1789-Present are available online from the Library of Congress.
March 4: Casimir Pulaski DayCasimir Pulaski from the National Park Service recounts the life of the soldier for whom the Fort Pulaski National Monument was named.
Casimir Pulaski Day features a biography from Eastern Illinois University.
Casimir Pulaski: Lessons and Activities for Grades K – 4 from the Chicago Public Schools provides a downloadable packet of information and activities concerning Pulaski.
The George Washington Papers from the Library of Congress contains copies of correspondence between Washington and Pulaski. Click on “search” and enter “Pulaski.”
March 17: "The Great Hunger" in IrelandViews of the Famine from Vassar College features primary source documents including articles and illustrations from newspapers of the times such as the Illustrated London News, Cork Examiner, Pictorial Times and Punch. While the text is more appropriate for high school students, the "Master Picture Index" provides easy access to many drawings that can give younger students a picture of the famine and life in Ireland in the 1840's.
Learn about the Irish Potato Famine by clicking on buildings in an interactive Irish village.
A succinct history of the Irish Potato Famine is provided by the Digital History Project.
The Great Irish Famine Curriculum is a high school unit plan developed by the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education.
April 9: Prisoners of War Remembrance DayBataan Rescue from the PBS American Experience Web site, provides many resources including a map of the march route, survivor interviews, letters home and historic film footage.
The Fight in the Philippines, another American Experience program, tells the story of the Bataan Death March and POW camps in the Philippines for U.S. soldiers during World War II.
The National Memorial Day Concert from PBS is a website featuring the annual concert hosted by actor and World War II veteran Ossie Davis. The concert pays tribute to those who died serving their country, and is broadcast live on PBS - coming directly from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
World War II: American POWs and MIAs is part of the Revelations from the Russian Archives exhibit from the Library of Congress. It presents a list of American POW's and describes how the opening of some Soviet-era archives to inspection by U.S. officials may lead to more discoveries.
The Andersonville National Historic Site serves as a memorial to all American prisoners of war throughout the nation's history. The archaeology section presents historical information about the prison and living conditions for prisoners. A lesson plan also is included.
The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System includes records from two Civil War-era prisons, one for Confederate and one for Union soldiers. Users can read about the history of the prisons and search for prisoners by name or state.
April 13: American's Creed DayThe American’s Creed from the Fairfax County (VA) Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution provides a history of the creed and background about its author.
April 19: Patriots DayThe Official Site of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States contains information about the origin of Patriot's Day, as well as a description of how it should be observed.
Teaching 911 provides resources, sample lessons, syllabi and a discussion area for teachers who want to teach about the events and consequences of September 11th. This site from Dickinson College provides links to Web sites on issues such as terrorism, homeland security and diversity and tolerance, as well as lesson plans for grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.
The September 11 Archive from The Internet Archive, the Library of Congress, and webarchivist.org aims to create a digital record of the Web coverage of the events of September 11th. The archive includes sites from languages other than English and from all points of view in order to allow users to analyse and compare for themselves.
April 22: Environmental Awareness DayToday in History: April 22 from Library of Congress offers a history of Earth Day, with many historic photos and documents about the early conservation movement.
April 28: Arbor DayToday in History: April 10 from the Library of Congress’s offers a history of the First Arbor Day, with many historic photos and posters.
The American Forests Web site includes many resources on trees and tree planting. It also supplies a climate change calculator that students can use to calculate how many trees they would need to plant to offset their own impact on the global environment.
A World Community of Old Trees is an interactive ecology art project that teachers might want to participate in for Arbor Day. Students are asked to locate and identify the oldest, largest, or most noteworthy tree in their neighborhood, and then share art and a description of the tree.
June 14: Robert La Follette Sr DayLa Follette and the Progressive Era from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin gives a brief background for La Follette, as well as access to primary source documents such as political cartoons and speeches. Lesson plans for secondary school use are also included.
Robert Marion La Follette from the Wisconsin Electronic Reader features numerous historical photographs of and extensive information about La Follette.
La Follette and his Legacy from the La Follette School of Public Affairs profiles La Follette and his political career, with historical photographs.
Robert La Follette on Women’s Public Role from the Library of Congress provides an excerpt from his autobiography. It also links to the full autobiography from the library’s collection.
Lessons for the Nader Camp: Fighting Bob La Follette in 1924 from the History News Service draws parallels between the presidential elections of 1924 and 2000.
Last updated 11/2011