History is the study and the documentation of the past. Events before the invention of writing systems are considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term comprising past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of these events.
During the past century, researchers have learned a great deal about the nature and
scope of what Russell Thornton has called the demographic collapse of the Indigenous
population in the Western Hemisphere after 1492. As David Stannard has explained, the almost inconceivable number of deaths caused by the invasion and conquest of these lands by Europeans and their descendants constitute “the worst human holocaust the world had ever witnessed.”
To a significant extent, disagreements about the pervasiveness of genocide in the history of the post-Columbian Western Hemisphere, in general, and U.S. history, in particular, pivot on definitions of genocide. Conservative definitions emphasize intentional actions and policies of governments that result in very large population losses, usually from direct killing. More liberal definitions call for less stringent criteria for intent, focusing more on outcomes.
Despite the long history and enormity of the subject, the number of courses on comparative genocide remains small. It is our belief that educating about genocide not only enhances causal explanation and understanding but will help to create individuals I societies committed to detect and prevent future genocidal atrocities.
This article, written by Norman Solkoff and William Allen, outlines an interdisciplinary university course, which dealt with the Nazi treatment of Jews during World War II. The course examines psychological and socio-historical principles which could result in mass murder.
Between 1846 and 1873, California's Indian population plunged from perhaps 150,000 to 30,000. Benjamin Madley is the first historian to uncover the full extent of the slaughter, the involvement of state and federal officials, the taxpayer dollars that supported the violence, indigenous resistance, who did the killing, and why the killings ended.
Why are some genocides prominently remembered while others are ignored, hidden, or denied? Consider the Turkish campaign denying the Armenian genocide, followed by the Armenian movement to recognize the violence. Similar movements are building to acknowledge other genocides that have long remained out of sight in the media, such as those against the Circassians, Greeks, Assyrians, the indigenous peoples in the Americas and Australia, and the violence that was the precursor to and the aftermath of the Holocaust.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Euro-American citizenry of California carried out mass genocide against the Native population of their state, using the processes and mechanisms of democracy to secure land and resources for themselves and their private interests. The murder, rape, and enslavement of thousands of Native people were legitimized by notions of democracy--in this case mob rule--through a discreetly organized and brutally effective series of petitions, referenda, town hall meetings, and votes at every level of California government.
How do educators use a variety of forms of representation to teach the complexities of genocide? What were the experiences of student-participants and participant-educators engaged in this curriculum? What types of meaning can be gleaned about genocide education by employing a variety of forms of representation? What meanings can students demonstrate about genocide by using a variety of forms of representation?
This lesson from Facing History and Ourselves allows students to learn about the transformation of Germany into a dictatorship in 1933–1934 and draw conclusions, based on this history, about the values and institutions that might serve as a bulwark against dictatorship and make democracy possible.
Our Lesson Plans provide a unique experience for educators to teach about the Holocaust effectively and interactively. Lessons are organized by topics that represent major themes associated with the Holocaust in an order that is roughly chronological; the modular design of the Lessons allows for adaption and customization to specific grade levels and subject areas.
The Genocide Archive of Rwanda was established by the archive and documentation department of the Aegis Trust Rwanda, a non-governmental organization that strives to prevent mass atrocity and genocide through education.
This unit consists of 23 lessons and an assessment designed to lead middle or high school students through an examination of the catastrophic period in the twentieth century when Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews and millions of other civilians, in the midst of the most destructive war in human history.
While not an exhaustive list, this page of the USHMM website provides information on historical cases of genocide and other atrocities, places where mass atrocities are currently underway or populations are under threat, and areas where early warning signs call for concern and preventive action.