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Class Year

2019

Abstract

History textbooks provide an interesting perspective into the views and attitudes of their respective time period. The way textbooks portray certain events and groups of people has a profound impact on the way children learn to view those groups and events. That impact then has the potential to trickle down to future generations, fabricating a historical narrative that sometimes avoids telling the whole truth, or uses selective wording to sway opinions on certain topics. This paper analyzes the changes seen in how the Civil War is written about in twelve textbooks dated from 1876 to 2014. Notable topics of discussion include the discussion of slaves and slavery, as well as the recognition, or lack of, the impact of minority groups. Many changes were traced, some for the worse, and quite a few for the better. Despite the efforts to make history textbooks more inclusive and unbiased, there is still much room for improvement, especially in regard to facing race relations and the causes behind the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil.

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