What Teachers and Students Are Saying January 20, 2011

Updated 11/2017

Here are just a few of the hundreds of comments we have received from teachers about the impact of Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, and the Zinn Education Project lessons on themselves and their classrooms. Send us your quotes and stories to add to this page: zep@zinnedproject.org.

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Howard Zinn’s Impact on Students | Media, Press and Endorsements


Zinn Education Project


The Zinn Education Project is my compass in a sea of corporate textbooks,
packaged common core curriculum,
and standardized testing.

My entire curriculum is based on lessons that can be found on the Zinn Education Project. Chris Buehler, High School Social Studies Teacher, Portland, Oregon

regina_belle-battle_2pics Thank you so much for the Zinn Education Project website. I discovered it while writing a paper for my Africana Studies college class and I’ve spent hours just being amazed at what I thought I knew about history.

Thanks for caring to illuminate minds!

History is one of the ways that enabled and empowered me to find myself early in junior high school. I had a history teacher who made one of the greatest impressions on me ever by throwing our history books in the garbage. Then she told us that she was going to teach us about us! She changed my life. Regina Belle-Battle, Grammy award-winning performer


I am grateful to the Zinn Education Project
for keeping the idea of agency alive.

My students are Alaskan Natives, and, unfortunately, are familiar with being on the margins
of history textbooks. They become more interested when other groups that share similar struggles
are brought to the forefront in lessons.

—Karen Beranek, Bering Straight School District, Alaska, 8th grade U.S. History Teacher


I’m definitely going to use the Zinn Education Project teacher guide with preservice teachers as an example of excellent pedagogy and as an approach to teaching difficult historical material.
Brian Gibbs, Pasadena, California, High School Teacher

Kris Beck’s students reading their copies of “A Young People’s History of the United States.”

I have been familiar with A People’s History of the United States for ages, but it was only this year that I discovered the Zinn Education Project. I cannot imagine being a teacher without the project.

—Kris Beck, Chicago, Illinois, 5th Grade Teacher

I’ve followed Dr. Zinn’s work ever since I first learned that the funny feeling in my stomach about Columbus was nausea. As a Women’s Studies minor in college and an MSW student, it’s often been to the many brilliant, inspiring women that Howard wrote about in A People’s History of the United States to which I’ve turned to inspire students that I work with to find their own voices. I first learned about the Zinn Education Project in one of these fact-finding searches where I was hoping (and excited to find) that someone had adapted the important lessons for the classroom.
—Jared Kant, Boston, Massachusetts, Middle School Social Worker
I’ve used everything that I have downloaded from the Zinn Education Project. The most notable successes I had with students were the Columbus materials and the “Singing Strike.” The students understood the lesson objectives by role-playing each of those situations. I am a firm believer that the best history education practices are reflected in lessons like these because the students have the opportunity to actually “live” history. I want to thank you and all those who make contributions to the project to make it possible for teachers like to access those valuable materials. I have been teaching social studies for over forty years and been an admirer for Howard Zinn for most of those years. My copy of his People’s History is dogeared and falling apart.
—William G. Vassar, St. Charles, Missouri, Adjunct Professor of Education, Lindenwood University

Canada loves you folks!

—Aaron Harris, St. Thomas, ON, Canada

Great site! I use it weekly and recommend it to every Social Studies teacher in my school. Thanks for all you at the Zinn Education Project do for us teachers.
Neil Shanks, Waco, Texas, High School U.S. History Teacher

Chris Lewis and his students display their classroom set of “A People’s History.”

The creation of the Zinn Education Project website has allowed me to find lesson plans and activities that help my students interact with challenging information. . . . What impressed me most about the [Mexican-American War] lesson was the engagement required by students. Not only did they have to understand their own character, but they also had to interact at a high level of critical thinking.
—Chris Lewis, El Monte, California, 11th-Grade U.S. History Teacher

U.S. Mexico War: “We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God” Teaching Activity PDF available as free download.

Unlike my previous units, student engagement was very high throughout U.S. Mexico War Tea Party: “We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God.” The talk back journal activity for the reading assignment also had very positive results. —Cynthia Irene Garcia, Los Angeles, California, 8th-Grade U.S. History Teacher

Esmeralda Tello and her students display their classroom sets of people’s history titles.

The last two days of the unit culminated in a role playing activity from the zinnedproject.org website titled The Cherokee/Seminole Removal Role Play. I love this website… In the previous paragraphs I explained the reaction that the reading passages had on my students and their genuine interest in Zinn’s text. The role playing activity from the website took the learning to a new level. The discussions during the “Congressional Hearing” were lively to say the least… My reward was seeing my students engaged in their own learning throughout the unit thanks to the readings from A People’s History of the United States and the zinnedproject.org website. I knew I achieved nirvana not only when my principal acknowledged the great job I did, but also when Chuck, the colleague next door who had presented me with Zinn’s book early in the year, came into my classroom to shake my hand and said to me: “Congratulations, you have taught a great lesson. Your students came into my classroom and couldn’t stop speaking about their roles. They were still arguing against each other and finally I had to say, ‘Enough social studies already!’ You did a great job.” I was beaming and I think I still am. —Esmeralda Tello, Mastic Beach, New York, 7th-Grade American History Teacher

Sarah Treworgy and her students display their people’s history books.

I received the Zinn Education Project materials and I immediately flipped through the book and taught the U.S.-Mexico War Tea Party lesson.

It was so wonderful to see a group of usually unmotivated students engaged that I called in another teacher to see this group of students actively involved.

—Sarah Treworgy, Lynnwood, Washington, Middle School Social Studies Teacher

My history is not in the textbooks. I did not find out my true history until I had to pay for it at a local university. I failed to learn it because my teachers taught only from textbooks that spoke of a one-sided version of history. . . . This is why I began to first use the concepts of the Zinn Education Project in October of 2009.
—Elaine M. Perez, San Antonio, Texas, 9th-Grade Spanish Educator
I thank the Zinn Education Project for keeping Howard Zinn’s work and legacy alive, and helping teachers understand the importance of this work, as well as giving us practical ways of making this book accessible to students of all ages.
—Matthew King, Amherst, Massachusetts, Middle School Social Studies Teacher
I needed an engaging way to teach history with manageable reading for my middle school special education students. The role plays I found on the Zinn Education Project website were the perfect. We started off with People vs. Columbus and at the end of the year students were still talking about it. The short role play descriptions and chance to debate the issue from many perspectives gave my students an accessible way to understand a complex and nuanced history and critique the standard story. Elizabeth Kenyon, Washington, D.C., Middle School Special Education Teacher
I always begin my U.S. history course with the People vs. Columbus, et al Trial. It is amazing how engaged students become to not only learn the truth but also be able to defend themselves using the evidence provided. Students love creativity and this case allows students to come to their own conclusions. — Miroslaba “Lili” Velo, Hayward, California, High School U.S. and World History Teacher
The Zinn Education Project resources are an asset for ESOL teachers. We are always looking for ways to offer students a critical perspective. The unsung heroes unit is outstanding! I have tailored it to meet the needs of my 2nd graders when we study American biographies. — Meaghan Martin, Manassas, Virginia, Elementary School Teacher

The Zinn Education Project materials encourage and push my creativity.

—Mariella Arredondo, Bloomington, Indiana

Howard_Partricia_students_700pxwI like how connections are made between the past and the present.

If I am struggling teaching a certain topic that is controversial or just plain struggling, the Zinn Education Project always has suggestions and ideas.
—Patricia Howard, Forest Park, Illinois, High School History Teacher


The Zinn Education Project lessons help me conceptualize teaching the whole story.

I know what material I both want and need to cover and, sometimes, how I want to expose students to it, but in the midst of daily teaching it feels overwhelming to have to come up with brand new ideas by myself…why reinvent the wheel?
—Lindy Settevendemie, Atlanta Public Schools, Georgia, 8th Grade Humanities Teacher


The Zinn Education Project lessons provide an alternative perspective that broadens the students’ thinking about a topic. They also provide a way for the students to engage with the material in a tangible way.
—Daniela Hall, Shoreline, Washington, Middle School Social Studies Teacher


I love that these lessons offer an alternative to eurocentric textbooks. I love the handouts and how easily I can change the lesson to fit my needs. I struggle coming up with my own experientials and as a first year teacher this website really helps me in multiple ways. I get to cater to different students learning needs and it makes history interactive!
Aniela Lopez Arceo, South Central Los Angeles, California, 9th Grade Geography Teacher

I read A People’s History of the United States when I was in grad school and feel like a fire was ignited in my brain. It totally shifted the way I viewed history (and society in general) and of course has been the foundation of the way I teach history today. I came to the Zinn Education Project website in search of new ways to light a similar fire in my students.” —Tristan McCoy, San Diego, California, U.S. History Teacher and Head Football Coach

Students get to actively re-live history and begin to develop historical empathy.

“I use Zinn Education Project lessons because they are high quality, get students to do critical thinking, and allow them to examine history from multiple perspectives. Having my students engage in ‘Rethinking the Constitutional Convention’ is always a highlight for them, as students get to actively re-live history and begin to develop historical empathy.

Through using the Zinn Education Project lessons, my students are beginning to see and understand how the inequities of the past were constructed and then they are able to start making the connections to today’s inequities in society.  It is from this understanding that we continue to work to try and figure out how to change our current world, based on our knowledge of the past.”  —Benjie Achtenberg, Oakland, California, 7th/8th Grade English and History

Our 50,000th and 50,001 registrants: Aitor Luna Olivares

The website and the project’s texts offer great, thought-provoking teaching tools.

“I signed up because I want my students to hear the voices and perspectives missing from traditional historical narratives and textbooks, and to develop a critical understanding and engagement that empowers them to change their world.

The website and the project’s texts offer great, thought-provoking teaching tools to explore a fuller, richer history, and make history classes more engaging, more relevant.” —Aitor Luna Olivares, Madison, Wisconsin, Bilingual History and Social Studies Teacher, and Zinn Education Project’s 50,000th registrant


I was COMPLETELY amazed by all of the neat information.

After searching online, and quite honestly, with not a lot of historical background, I came across your website and was COMPLETELY amazed by all of the neat information!! The lesson plans were specific and to the point, for any teacher to easily understand and share with students. —Amber Crotts, Winston Salem, North Carolina, 7th Grade English Language Arts Teacher

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Howard Zinn’s Impact on Teachers


“Howard Zinn’s books have made more sense than any history I’ve read about the Americas!”

—Robin Brennan-Perez, Fort Wayne, Indiana, High School ESL/Bilingual Teacher

I remember first reading A People’s History of the United States while on a train going to work. After reading about how the Tainos had their hands cut off when they didn’t bring back enough gold, I had to put the book down. I felt betrayed by our education system. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of this before, especially as a man in his mid-twenties. From that point forward I decided that if I ever had the opportunity to teach, I would use this book as the classroom textbook. A People’s History of the United States allows citizens to confront the most unpleasant acts of the past in order to gain strength to move on into the future. As a teacher, the Zinn Education Project website is invaluable because it provides activities that directly relate to A People’s History. Last week we did the People vs. Columbus, which places all the parties involved in the arrival of Columbus on trial for the murder of the Tainos. The activity was so interactive that teachers from other classrooms had to ask us to quiet down. Students were able to better understand the motives and consequences behind the arrival. Even though A People’s History can be a bit difficult for some students, the activities on the Zinn Education Project website makes the content accessible regardless of their reading level. —Julian Hipkins III, Washington, D.C., High School U.S. History Teacher
Because of this book, I understood early in my college career the importance of the true, unfiltered words of the actual actors in a historical event. As a result, I was drawn further into the study of history and, eventually, into my career as a history teacher. What A People’s History brought to my attention is that American history is much more interesting than that. Our history is an exciting, sometimes appalling, struggle for power and that makes us just like every other country that has ever existed. . . . A long list of “good guys” with no one to struggle with is neither a true story nor a good story. It doesn’t resonate because it leads the student to believe that we are all waiting for the next exceptional leader, instead of becoming a force for change in our own communities. A People’s History helped me recognize this as a student of history and inspires my attempt to bring true stories to young people, weary of the inaccessible lists that history teaching has become.
—Reynolds Bodenhamer, Gulfport, Mississippi, 11th-Grade U.S. History Teacher
After reading all the quotes [below] from people who were inspired by Howard Zinn, I started to feel bad about not spending enough time today [1/27/2011] to honor the great historian who inspired me in so many ways. Then, I thought back to the work that I taught this week in my classes. We talked about everyday people being a part of history. We spoke about the role of citizens in a democracy to remain ever vigilant. We discussed examples of activists finding interesting and unique ways to challenge authority. Then, I realized that everything that I taught today was inspired by Howard Zinn (the book we use, On the Lower Frequencies: A Secret History of the City, even had a blurb by Zinn). Without even thinking about it, Howard Zinn was practically in my classroom today. I miss him terribly, but it’s hard to say that he’s gone. Howard Zinn is with me every time I step in front of the class. —Christopher Scott Satterwhite, Pensacola, Florida, Language Arts Instructor, University of West Florida
I was introduced to Howard Zinn by accident. I turned on C-Span Book TV and after a few minutes I found myself standing up, turning around, cursing, laughing, and just acting like a complete fool. I thought: “Who is this guy? Why is he not the president? Why have I never heard of this person?” I immediately went out and bought his book and my life as a teacher, as an American, and as a human was changed forever. —John Mistilis, Oxford, Mississippi, Social Studies Teacher
I teach Zinn because of how I felt when I first read A People’s History of the United States. I want others to experience that relief of liberation—that is, the freedom to critique, and because of that critique, the freedom to be a better citizen. —Troy Grant, Prince George’s County, Maryland, U.S. History High School Teacher

Howard Zinn made me want to teach.
I owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude. We all do.

—Ty J. Hathorn, Mobile, Alabama, 10th-Grade U.S. History Teacher

Words are inadequate to describe how Howard Zinn has influenced my teaching — or for that matter the kind of human I try to be. I first read A People’s History in my 20s. I haven’t been the same since.
—Josephine Rincon, Tucson, Arizona

My synchronicity with Mr. Zinn’s legacy astounds me. I used “Elegy for Peter Norman” from the Zinn Education Project website in a lesson for my charter school students. Coincidentally, fairly shortly after Mr. Zinn passed I was asked (along with a host of far more talented people) to fill in for Mr. Zinn at date he’d booked with City Arts and Lectures in SF. I read a poem written by Alice Walker in his honor. I’m amazed by how many times I’ve been influenced by the life and impact of Howard’s work. He’s such a presence in my life. In word and action, even as he became a most honored ancestor.” — Chinaka Hodge, poet, educator, playwright and screenwriter
Howard Zinn has made me a better teacher not because he persuaded me to replace one historical narrative with another, but rather because he inspired me to add new stories to the curriculum that had been previously ignored. These stories do not replace, but rather complement the more traditional histories of our nation’s founding and development. Because of Zinn, I think my students get a fuller, more accurate understanding of what it means to be an American. —Kyle Yamada, Eugene, Oregon, High School Social Studies Teacher
A People’s History of the United States had such an impact on my learning that shortly thereafter I changed my major from business administration to history. —Michael Presser, Perris, California, 11th-Grade U.S. History Teacher

jason_merelI read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States in college and, for lack of a better means of describing the effect, it blew my mind. For many years I simply accepted the history I learned in school as fact; never challenged, never controversial. After reading this book I realized there were many left out of these stories and, most significantly, what I thought I learned in school was only one specific point of view. Zinn wrote to share multiple perspectives on events that shaped the world and to give the “losers” of history a voice. It is this voice that I want my students to hear, some for the very first time. If my job is to create lifelong learners and better citizens of the world then I owe them a more complete picture of the past. Viewing history with a wider lens is most appropriate today more than ever.

As I embark on my twelfth year in the classroom I’m still trying to change the common perception of history classes by moving away from the traditional approach to history and on to debate, controversy, and critical thinking skills my students will need as they reach the upper echelons of academia. I’m channeling Zinn every day we hit critical events and I sure hope I’m doing him proud. —Jason Merel, Chicago, Ill., Middle School Social Studies Teacher

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Howard Zinn’s Impact on Teaching



“I use Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, A Young People’s History of the United States, and A People’s History of American Empire in my high school social studies classes because it offers a new and different perspective without the feel of a traditional textbook, which helps my students hone their evaluation skills and learn to synthesize information while discussing and interacting with the content. Zinn’s resources are very accessible both to teachers and students, and the Zinn Education Project has worked diligently to make high quality teacher resources to supplement these texts making them user-friendly. Most importantly, I use Zinn in the classroom because I want to give a voice to those that have been silenced and marginalized in traditional history textbooks; those are the voices that my students identify with the most. Identifying with history helps my students remember, learn from, and engage with it.” —Shannon White, Indiana Public Schools, High School Government and Economics Teacher


I teach people’s history because it provides my students with buried but important perspectives on the history they assume they already know.

It is vitally important that young people discover that history is not the sole province of rich, famous, White, straight men (like Mitch Daniels). Instead, we can all contribute to the development of our country. And, indeed, we all have! —Franklin D. Oliver, Indianapolis, Indiana, Social Studies Teacher, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School

I have been teaching history in Boston for 16 years, and I strive to teach my students that they have voice and the power to take action. No text helps me do that more than Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and the supplementary materials provided through the Zinn Education Project. I find your materials to be well crafted. For example, the role playing activity where students take on the identity of people impacted by the Mexican-American war generates excellent discussion each time I use it.I use thought provoking statements from Zinn’s text in a mini-debate activities such as a spectrum line. For example, I will ask students to stand along a line ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree in reaction to one of Zinn’s statements. By simply standing, they express opinion. Student volunteers will then share out why they have taken that particular stand.One of my favorite moments using A People’s History came this year when we read about the beginning of differentiation between indentured servants and slaves after Bacon’s Rebellion. A student said, “If racism was purposefully created, it means that people can un-create it.” I couldn’t hope for a better realization, and it is for moments like these I am excited to continue to use materials from the Zinn Education project in my classroom. —Amy Piacitelli, Boston, Massachusetts, High School Social Studies Teacher
The reason I have come to rely on Zinn’s work is simple: It sets the record straight. Rather than being outraged and saddened by the means we have adopted in the pursuit of our happiness — and horrified by the extreme disparities between the few whose pursuits have borne fruit and the many whose have not — we as Americans cling to these pernicious myths and delusions. And the real tragedy is that these myths and delusions perpetuate the very causes and consequences that have denied, and continue to deny, so many of us, at home and abroad, the dignity, and decency that we once imagined were our unalienable birthrights.
—Matthew Wohl, Housatonic, Massachusetts
I have also thoroughly appreciated the range of material offered through the Zinn Project, as well as Teaching for Change, History Matters, and Rethinking Schools. These organizations and projects are helping me establish a curriculum centered on social justice that as a first year teacher would have been so much more difficult to do without.”
—Jennifer Spensieri, Flagstaff, Arizona, Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy

I use Zinn’s work every single day that I stand in front of my classroom.

—Robert Caughey, San Diego, California, English Language and Composition Teacher

[By not including Zinn] I would not only be doing them a disservice, but also the people Zinn wrote about — the people who deserved to have their voices heard. He also brought life to history and told the kind of stories that teenagers would listen to — relevant and sometimes even juicy stories of government corruption, betrayal, protests, and triumphs of the human spirit. Some of my most rewarding lessons as a teacher have revolved around A People’s History. —Laura Bennett, New York, New York, 9th-Grade Social Studies Teacher

Zach Serrano and his class display their classroom set of “A People’s History.”

  I have been teaching for 14 years and have always used A People’s History in my regular U.S. History class for juniors. The students see the text as challenging, but such a breath of fresh air from the traditional texts that go along with U.S. history. The Zinn Education Project has been so helpful to access thought-provoking resources, simulations, and role plays that I can use in my classroom to reinforce the text, but also teach social justice and citizenship. Its easy for some to lose track of why we teach these days and instead focus on what we are teaching (multiple choice test, teacher pay being linked to standardized tests, etc.) Keep the Facebook posts coming — its such an easy form of communication to see a quick blurb each day that can help my teaching.” —Lindsey DiTomasso, Elmhurst, Illinois, High School Social Studies Teacher
By providing excerpts or reading selections from my own copy of A People’s History of the United States, it’s been possible to move beyond this focus on individuals, instead looking at the overall historical movements and groups of people who participated together to change the way America works… ways that everyday people have survived, thrived, and questioned the norms and limitations set by society. —Ryan McCarty, Bronx, New York, 7th-, 8th-, and 9th-Grade English/Language Arts Teacher

Two of Sara Quezada’s students working with their copy of “A People’s History.”

I used excerpts from the chapter “A Kind of Revolution,” along with the textbook, and the Bill of Rights to teach my students about their rights and their role as agents of change. I never would have imagined how well my students internalized this knowledge. It was 1992 and the Los Angeles Uprising immediately following the court decision in the Rodney King case was in full swing. I took the day off to attend one of the protests. The substitute called the assistant principal when my students refused to stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance. The assistant principal ordered them to rise to recite the pledge. Then one of my students protested, and invoking his First Amendment right — quoting it verbatim — politely explained that there was no “liberty and justice” for Rodney King, and that neither he nor anyone else in the class should repeat meaningless things. The entire class refused to recite the pledge and the leader was to be suspended. I had my hands full the next day. My student was on the verge of suspension and so was I. The principal and assistant principal double-teamed me trying to intimidate me. I refused to acquiesce to their demands compelling me to force my students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I called the ACLU and the union lawyers and they immediately called my administrators. My student was not suspended and I thankfully kept my job. My students learned the importance of standing united and challenging authority. Thank you Howard Zinn. [Zinn] is the antidote to the toxically boring textbook public schools purchase. —Sara Quezada, South El Monte, California, 10th- and 11th-Grade World History and U.S. History Teacher

Our official textbook was Liberty, Equality, and Power, and although we needed to cover the material in that book, reading it became a chore we must do in order to “get to Zinn.”

—Mark Harrington, Dallas, Texas, U.S. History Teacher

One of Dawn Fontaine’s students engaged with his copy of “A People’s History.”

In my first year of teaching, 15 years ago, I was browsing local bookstores for resources that could supplement the textbook that I resented. I became a history teacher to help students make history a living part of their lives and the textbook seemed to have the opposite effect… I grabbed A People’s History of the United States and have yet to put it down… The way in which Howard Zinn makes history compelling for students is undeniable and a resource that I have decided I — and my students — cannot be without…Many students who find themselves in alternative programs will often say that teachers never made school interesting. Zinn’s work gave me the resource I needed to capture the internal sense of justice so many urban students have… As an educator, I am filled with excitement that although I opened the window, with the help of Howard Zinn, they have made the effort to examine what is outside. —Dawn Fontaine, Springfield, Massachusetts, 10th- and 11th-Grade U.S. History Teacher

A People’s History inspired me to change the focus of my teaching from a traditional government — and hero — centered focus to the very place where change ultimately originates: with the people. It’s not that the other history is ignored but is instead further contextualized by what ordinary people were doing and experiencing at the same time. After all, my students are by and large the ordinary people of today. If society is going to progress, Howard teaches all of us, it’s going to come from the people and not the select few. I have used Howard’s book to, well, complicate matters. —Michael J. Swogger, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 10th- and 11th-Grade American History Teacher

I’m really excited to start planning thought-provoking lessons for my future students with help from the Zinn Education Project!

—Grace Mason, Brighton, Michigan, Middle School Social Studies Education Student

I will never forget, as a brand new social studies teacher in Brooklyn, being told of Howard Zinn’s A Peoples’ History of the United States by veteran teacher Jack Urlich at Sarah J. Hale High School back in 1986. Jack emphasized that this was the seminal work and could easily be used in the classroom. My students always found the readings refreshing compared to the stale textbooks. I continue to use A People’s History in my classroom today. More.— John Elfrank-Dana, New York City, New York, High School U.S. History Teacher

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Zinn’s Impact on Students

If we want to know more about our history, we need to educate ourselves. I feel Howard Zinn is the best place to start in our real history lesson. By educating ourselves we can change the history children learn through us. That can be another way to make them feel welcome in a classroom. The more I learn, the more I want to know — not just about my history, but everyone’s.
—Maria Renteria-Rodriguez, Toppenish, Washington, Education Student at Heritage University
As one of my 8th graders put it a few years back:

“History isn’t so much about what happened in the past. It’s about how to change the future.”

I could not state any better why I use A People’s History in my classroom.
—Bryan Hoang, Irvine, California, 10th-Grade U.S. History Teacher
I constantly tell my students that you cannot believe everything that you read, not because it is false but because it is often slanted. —Tony Marino, Turners Falls, Massachusetts, High School Social Studies Teacher


A People’s History of the United States is one book that makes my students think. They are shocked by it, moved by it, question it, challenge it and are motivated to find out more of our history because of it.”
—Ralph J. Coffey, South Bronx, New York, U.S. A.P. history teacher, Cardinal Hayes High School
The Zinn Education Project is rich in primary sources that help me supplement my lessons. —Jennice McCafferty Wright, Columbia, Missouri, 8th-Grade Early American History

The students love the “forgotten” side of history that Zinn so lucidly portrays.

—Peter Anderson, Utica, New York, 11th-Grade U.S. History and Government Teacher

Reading text from the front lines of strikes, the innards of factory life, the embattled marches of the women’s suffrage movement, and the fields of the tenant farmer put a human face on what can seem a faceless “movement.”—Scott Camillo, Washington, D.C., 9th-Grade World Cultures and 10th-Grade AP U.S. History Teacher


Back in high school, I was lucky enough to have a dynamic, outside the box teacher. Instead of the usual textbooks for our American history class, this teacher gave us a snippet of Howard Zinn. Thanks to that introduction, A People’s History of the United States became one of the defining books of my young education.

That book opened my eyes to new perspectives, concepts, and historical figures that directly impacted my life.

Thanks to that early exposure, I got involved in social justice and human rights work, and now get to help inspire similar awakenings in students today through my work with the Speak Truth To Power education curriculum! —Andrew Graber, Program Coordinator, Speak Truth To Power, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights

Now, whenever I pull out the textbook, they groan. And if we do happen to read a textbook account of something, they always want to know what other historians have said or found about the event. —Josh Weissberg, New York, New York, 7th-Grade Social Studies Teacher
After reading Zinn, my students are required to write commentaries comparing him with their textbook and commenting on his historical approach. Their comments are revealing. One student wrote: “Our textbook is a series of facts. Zinn explains them to me in human terms.” Another student wrote: “Thousands of people die and our textbook mentions it as an afterthought. A People’s History evokes the real impact of events on the people of the past.”
—Anonymous*, Santa Cruz, California


I went to a high school where a teacher had us read Chapter 1 of A People’s History of the United States the first week of 10th grade. I was never the same.

—Peter Hart, activism director, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

It seemed as though three pages of A People’s History of the United States had shattered, had destroyed a decade of accepted truth. Students were intrigued, upset, confused and everywhere in between . . . but they were all thinking.
—William Heuisler, Los Angeles, California, 11th-Grade U.S. History
My students thoroughly enjoyed the excerpts and lessons that were supplemented with A People’s History of the United States. I found differentiating these lessons for various skill levels to be relatively easy and A People’s History lent itself well to developing higher order thinking skills. At-risk and alternative school students are too often relegated to simplistic hierarchies of learning: They are told to define, memorize, review, and simply regurgitate. A People’s History facilitates higher order thinking skills including interpretation, evaluation, analysis, and choice because my students find that the content, presentation, and perspective evoke interest because of relevance. —Anonymous*, St. Louis, Missouri
The students said that reading A People’s History of the United States got them ready for college-level discussions. They thanked me for teaching them the book, despite its rigor. One student wrote: “Zinn taught me that people make history. I can, too.” —Mark Isero, San Francisco, California, 11th-Grade U.S. History Teacher


*A few teachers asked that we not publish their names.

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Comments on Specific Lessons

Joshua Watne's students discussing the lesson | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Reconstructing the South


Teaching about Columbus

And more.

Media, Press and Endorsements

“You will love this website”

If you are a teacher who has enjoyed using excerpts from Zinn’s books in class, you will love the Zinn Education Project website, with lots of free teaching materials on history that will be engaging and accessible to students.

CollectEdNY, resources for NY State educators preparing adult students for high school equivalency and beyond

“Yes! recommends the brilliant
Zinn Education Project…”

YES! Magazine, May 2010 Education Connection


The Zinn Education Project offers “resources designed to help students gain complex understandings of U.S. history and to develop a sense of agency around social issues.”
—Jesse Gainer, Language Arts, September 2010


The Zinn Education Project is an extraordinary and much-needed resource for teachers. Students who learn this history will be better thinkers and better citizens. They will understand the importance of working for justice and develop the skills to do it effectively.”

“If we don’t learn that it was people just like us, then we won’t know we can do it again.”

By focusing only on a few “special” people like Dr. King and Rosa Parks — rather than highlighting, as Howard Zinn did, the stories of “ordinary” heroines and heroes — we fail to understand that most activists in the movement didn’t consider themselves “special” at all. They were simply people who chose to change things — chose to risk their lives, their livelihoods and possibly their personal dreams for the future to right the wrongs they could no longer ignore.Also important to students: many of those who were at the cutting edge of this change were young people. It is through the vanguard of the young activists of the 1960s that students will, hopefully, see themselves as the activists of today. If we don’t learn that it was people just like us — our mothers, our uncles, our classmates, our clergy — who made and sustained the modern Civil Rights Movement, then we won’t know we can do it again. And then the other side wins — even before we ever begin the fight.”

“What a splendid way to make the past come alive.”

This is a wonderful website, giving teachers of students from middle-school up terrific resources for engaging the next generation. What a splendid way to make the past come alive.
—William H. Chafe is the Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History at Duke University, and past president of the Organization of American Historians

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