Thursday, July 24, 2008

Links to History: Free Lesson Plans and Back to School Savings

This edition of Links to history has some great incentives for teachers... Free stuff...and some stuff that's closer to free than it was before...


Savings at PBS Online Store:

Here are the latest promotions for ShopPBS - remember, your purchases support PBS programming.

Save 25% on The War: A Ken Burns Film -- Only $74.99 at when you shop through this link. Offer ends August 31, 2008

20% off NOW on PBS Best Sellers at - Shop July 22 - August 4 2008


Free K-12 Lesson Plan Resource from American Heritage:

The American Heritage Education Foundation (AHEF) is pleased to make available at no cost to educators and interested citizens a history/civic K-12 lesson plan resource CD of $150.00 value, "America's Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty."

Endorsed by former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, and collaboratively developed by professional educators and community service organizations, "America's Heritage" assists teachers in educating young people about America's factual, philosophical heritage based on themes of freedom, unity, progress, and responsibility.

Available in CD and binder format, the resource includes Elementary, Elementary Spanish (ESL), Middle, and High School volumes. It correlates with NCSS and Core Knowledge national social studies standards.

Through independent testing, "America's Heritage" has proven to increase student performance in history objectives in schools compared with schools that did not use the resource. It has been made available successfully to Teaching American History schools/districts in support of American History education.

Topics include:

The Mayflower Compact
Colonial America & the American Revolution
History of Thanksgiving
Founding Fathers
Presidents The National Motto
U.S. Flag The Great Seal
Declaration of Independence
U.S. Constitution
Bill of Rights
Gettysburg Address
Federalist Papers
Statue of Liberty
The Pledge of Allegiance
The American's Creed
National Anthem
Religious Expression in Public Schools

To request a review copy, make a free bulk order, or get more information, go to AHEF at, email AHEF at

PS - I know I mentioned a teacher's guide to the Antiques Road show... i'll get to that next...


Sunday, July 20, 2008

The History of: "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"

baseball's most popular songIt's been said that it's the third most frequently sung song in America... I'm sure Happy Birthday and The Star-Spangled Banner win the gold and silver.

Every night, during the 7th inning stretch in every major and minor league baseball game, thousands upon thousands of people rise to their feet and sing the song as one.

We all know the chorus by heart... and we sing it loud and proud... it's almost un-American not to. It's as American as baseball... in fact it IS baseball. What would baseball be like without it?

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is celebrating it's 100th year as THE baseball song. The irony of the song is that the author had never been to a baseball game.

The story goes that Jack Norworth, a song writer and vaudeville performer, was inspired to write the song when he saw an sign promoting a game at the Polo Grounds, while riding a New York city subway. Norworth's inspiration began by writing a song about a girl named Katie Casey who's boyfriend called to see if she'd like to go to a show... but instead, Katie asked her boyfriend to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". And in knowing the lyric you can imagine a girl asking her boyfriend to "buy her some peanuts and cracker-jack".

The song was a huge hit... (yep, pun intended, but that was an easy one...) The song was a top 10 hit for three artists in 1908. And it wasn't until the 1934 World Series, when the song was performed at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis.

For the next several decades, baseball fans would spontaneously sing the song during ball games. Often times between innings or during pitching changes when the organist would play the tune.

What made the song even more popular was its inclusion in the 7th inning stretch of Chicago Cubs games. But this didn't happen until much later and really wasn't planned.

(See a history of the 7th inning stretch here...) Thanks to the robust President Taft, we have a 7th inning stretch...which also was not planned.

The story goes that legendary Cubs play-by-play announcer Harry Caray would privately sing the song during commercial breaks. (Back then he was broadcasting for the other Chicago baseball team...) In 1976, White Sox owner Bill Veeck, known for his wacky promotions and stunts, tricked Caray into leading the White Sox faithful in singing the song at Comiskey Park, by hiding a microphone in the broadcast booth, and allowing all the fans to hear him and sing along. The tradition was started...

Caray carried the tradition to the other side of Chicago when he became the Cubs' announcer in 1982. And because the Cubs were broadcast on Cable television, the entire country got to hear Caray's rendition, and other teams began adopting the tradition. And the rest, as they say... is history. Even after Caray's transition to baseball heaven in 1998 the Cubs continue the tradition by having celebrities sing the song during the 7th inning stretch.

But of course each team would substitute the lyrics to customize the song for their favorite team... in my case it goes "root, root, root for the Phillies..."

For more history of the song, and many other baseball songs you can read Baseball's Greatest Hit: The Story of Take Me Out to the Ball Game . The book comes with a CD of rare and classic recordings of the song including Harry Caray.

The Baseball-Almanac, which is an excellent site for baseball enthusiasts, has the complete version of both lyrics, as well as several you can listen to..

To celebrate the song's 100th anniversary Major League Baseball and Baby Ruth teamed up to create a contest where the winner would sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" at this year's All-Star game... Here's the link: (Tab around this micro-site for more information about the song...)

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1908 original version)
words by - Jack Norworth
music by - Albert VonTilzer

Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad.
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou Katie blew.
On a Saturday her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go
To see a show, but Miss Kate said
"No, I'll tell you what you can do:"

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes,
you're out, At the old ball game.

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names.
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along,Good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Roll Call: Who's Reading this Blog?

Mostly for my own curiosity, but also to help see where this blog endeavor could go, I'd like to take a quick roll call of who my regular readers are.

I know for a fact that there are anywhere between 43 and 53 people who subscribe to my RSS feed... I thank you for that. I'm very flattered. What started as a site to help my students respond easily to reading assignments (in their own element so to speak) has turned into something I really enjoy doing... writing about and sharing knowledge about US History.

All I ask is for some of you, to kind of chime in with a quick note in the comments section of this post and let me know who you are... you can sign in anonymously and give me an occupation and an age, or anything you feel comfortable revealing.

Thanks for reading... and thanks for posting...


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Links to History: and The Civil Rights Digital Library

As a history blogger with a decent sized audience (and surprisingly good search engine rankings), I'm often contacted to promote local events, websites, publications, etc...

Most of those that contact me do have relevant information that my readers would enjoy, but too often I don't find time to post their requests. This will change.

From now on I'll post these findings every so often as... "Links to History".

This is the first of such postings... enjoy. - BackStoryRadio is a call-in radio show that brings a historical perspective to every day happenings. U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh discuss current events. Check it out.

------------------------ - The Civil Rights Digital Library is one of the most comprehensive digital archives of the civil rights movement recently unveiled by The University of Georgia.

The Library aggregates and digitizes never-before-seen video news clips, audio files, images, FBI files, court documents and more from more than 75 institutions from across the nation. You can view some of the best here:

Also, there is a special part of the site just for teachers.... Freedom on Film, which features lesson plans, worksheets and resources to facilitate learning the civil rights material. (

next... the updates to the Antiques Roadshow website... they're going Web 2.0!!!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.