Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government


Core Documents Curriculum

The greatest threat to American freedom is the failure of our nation’s schools to teach students the story of the American experiment in self-government. Without knowledge of our history students will not understand the fundamental principles of our government, the vital importance of their rights, and the duties they must perform to keep freedom alive.

Therefore, the most important work in America is teaching American history and government.

Preserving our American freedom requires clear-sighted attention to our fundamental principles, and these principles are found in the primary documents of our history. While textbooks offer only an interpretation, while original historical documents put students into direct contact with the facts, and with the ideas, opinions, and emotions of the Americans who struggled to build and preserve this country. By studying the words and deeds of great Americans like Washington, Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass, students come to understand the core ideas that define our history and form of government.

Ashbrook’s Core Documents Curriculum will transform the way American history and government is taught by equipping teacher with the essential documents they need to teach the story of America.

The curriculum, made up of 35 document collections, will cover the full range of topics in American History and U.S. Government. Each collections will contain key documents on its period, theme, or institution, selected by an expert and reviewed by an editorial board. The collections will be indispensable resources that can be used to supplement or even replace textbooks.

Each collection will include the following:

  • Approximately 25 primary source documents
  • Short introductions for each document with information about the author and context
  • Provocative questions to stimulate class discussion on the documents’ key ideas

When complete, the series will be comprehensive, and also authoritative, because it will present America’s story in the words of those who wrote it – America’s presidents, labor leaders, farmers, philosophers, industrialists, politicians, workers, explorers, religious leaders, judges, soldiers; its slaveholders and abolitionists; its expansionists and isolationists; its reformers and standpatters; its strict and broad constructionists; its hard-eyed realists and visionary utopians—all united in their commitment to equality and liberty, yet all also divided often by their different understandings of these most fundamental American ideas.  The documents are about all of this—the still unfinished American experiment with self-government.

There is no better way to understand the story of America than with the documents. Below is a full list of the planned collections. We plan to complete the Core Documents Curriculum over the next several years.

Your support will make this project possible. If you have questions about the project or want to learn more about how you can help to preserve American freedom by equipping teachers with the resources they need to help a generation of young people learn the story of America, please contact Brent Rossman at or 419-289-5243.

American History

The American Mind – Essential American Texts
Education in America
Colonial America
The American Revolution
The American Founding
The Creation of the Constitution
Ratification of the Constitution
The Creation of the Bill of Rights
The First Amendment – Free Speech
Early Republic
Age of Democracy, Age of Jackson
Westward Expansion
Social Reform Movements – 1790 to 1850
Causes of the Civil War
Civil War
Gilded Age
Nationalism and Imperialism
Progressivism and Populism
World War I and the Roaring Twenties
The Great Depression and the New Deal
World War II
Vietnam and Social Change in the 1960s
Cold War America
The First Amendment – Religious Liberty
Race, Gender, Equality, and Civil Rights in America
American Foreign Policy, 1789 -1945

American Government

The American Presidency and the Executive Branch
The Congress
The Judicial Branch
Political Parties, Campaigns, and Elections
Influential Supreme Court Cases
Political Economy
The Commercial Republic