State history, sometimes called “state studies,” is a course that is taught in various capacities in all 50 states. Some states have a full course devoted to the subject, usually in grades 3-8. Other states have standards focused on state history in all history courses grades K-12. Though taught in every state, these courses are under researched and often ignored in the social studies literature.
In most states, state history is not simply a U.S. history course with some discussion about the state, but it is an independent history course focusing primarily on the people and events that shaped the state. While major events in U.S. and world history are often included, the emphasis is usually on the impact individuals from the state had on these events or how the events affected the state directly. State history is unique in many ways and is also the only history course whose very purpose is often questioned (Moore, 1969; Isner, 1990; Roberts, 2009, 2011; Roberts & Butler, 2012). If taught correctly, state history can be a useful course as it allows teachers to discuss important concepts of history and incorporate the 10 NCSS themes at a local level. This local connection can help students gain a better link to the people and events of the past. However, if taught the wrong way, state history courses can easily provide students with an inaccurate and “ethnocentric belief in the superiority of the state’s culture and disparagement of ‘outside’ contributions” (Moore, 1969, p. 267).
This site has been created for three purposes. First, to my knowledge, there is no complete listing of the states that teach state history courses, the grade level(s) they are taught, and links to the state history standards. This website provides this information and will continually be updated as states change their social studies standards. Second, I have provided a full bibliography of scholarly articles, curriculum guides, books, websites, newspaper articles, and blogs that have been written about state history and state history instruction. Finally, I would like for those who teach state history throughout the United States to provide comments, share ideas and lessons, correct errors, and ask questions about the best practices for teaching this important subject. Please email these to me and I will post them to this site.
Scott L. Roberts, Ph.D.