Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government


Core Documents Curriculum

The greatest threat to 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 unique history, the next generation of Americans 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.

The most important work in America is teaching American history and government.

Building on the success of 50 Core Documents, the Ashbrook Center’s Core Documents Curriculum will transform the way American history and government is taught by equipping teachers with the original historical documents that tell the dramatic story of our nation’s rise. Textbooks offer only an interpretation, but original historical documents put students into direct contact with the facts, and with the ideas, opinions, and emotions of the men and women who struggled to build and preserve this country. Great Americans like Washington, Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass are far better equipped than a textbook to help our students learn the core ideas that define our history and form of government.

Each of the document volumes in the curriculum 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 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; slaveholders and abolitionists; expansionists and isolationists; reformers and standpatters; strict and broad constructionists; hard-eyed realists and visionary utopians—all united in their commitment to equality and liberty, yet all also often divided by their different understandings of these most fundamental American ideas. The documents are about all of this—the still unfinished American experiment in self-government.

Below is a full list of completed and planned collections. We plan to complete the Core Documents Curriculum over the next several years, but with your help can complete it sooner. Each completed collection is available in PDF for free, as an eBook on iTunes and Kindle for $0.99, and in paperback for $10.

Completed Volumes

Documents and Debates in American History and Government: Vol. 1, 1493-1865
Documents and Debates in American History and Government: Vol. 2, 1865-2009
The American Founding
The American Revolution
The Constitutional Convention
Bill of Rights
Causes of the Civil War
The Great Depression and the New Deal 
World War II
Cold War
The American Presidency

Full List

American History

Documents and Debates in American History and Government: Vol. 1, 1493-1865
Documents and Debates in American History and Government: Vol. 2, 1865-2009
The American Mind – Essential American Texts
Education in America
Colonial America
The American Revolution
The American Founding
The Constitutional Convention
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

Please contact Brent Rossman if you would like to order paperback copies or would like more information about how you can help young Americans learn the good and true story of America.