Which US states have state history classes?
April 7, 2010 2:24 PM   Subscribe

In this thread, state history classes were brought up. I've always assumed Texas was the only state that had them, since people I've mentioned them to who were from other states thought the idea was weird. However, apparently Washington, at least, has them as well. Which other states do? Is it a unit of a more general US History class or a whole year-long class like Texas?
posted by DecemberBoy to Education (106 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I had an Arkansas history class in junior high (8th grade, if memory serves). It was at least one semester, possibly a year.
posted by jedicus at 2:25 PM on April 7, 2010

Oklahoma requires (or did when I was there) a semester of Oklahoma history to be taught in high school.
posted by norm at 2:26 PM on April 7, 2010

Alabama History, fourth and ninth grade.
posted by jefficator at 2:26 PM on April 7, 2010

(This would've been in 1995 or so)
posted by jedicus at 2:26 PM on April 7, 2010

Just as a data point, I found a Missouri State History book which looked like a schoolbook. It was rather old.
posted by adipocere at 2:26 PM on April 7, 2010

Just posted. Georgia does require state history as part of its public school curriculum.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 2:27 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

I took a year of New Mexico History in 7th grade.
posted by sugarfish at 2:28 PM on April 7, 2010

North Carolina has state history class. 7th grade, and at some point in elementary school.
posted by hought20 at 2:28 PM on April 7, 2010

In my wife's district, it's part of the fourth grade curriculum, it's also an elective in High School. (Michigan)
posted by HuronBob at 2:28 PM on April 7, 2010

I went to public school in Indiana, and in 4th grade, we covered state and county history. I think we spent the whole year on it, but it wasn't a class as we just had the one teacher for everything.
posted by Feantari at 2:29 PM on April 7, 2010

when you grow up in New England, "Early American History" basically becomes state history.
posted by radiosilents at 2:29 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

Oregon has them. I can remember a section on Washington County history in elementary school too.
posted by chrchr at 2:31 PM on April 7, 2010

In Virginia, fourth graders are taught Virginia Studies, 1607 to the Present*.
posted by peeedro at 2:36 PM on April 7, 2010

northwest arkansas - did state history in elementary school and then at least 6 weeks of it in jr high.
posted by nadawi at 2:36 PM on April 7, 2010

I took Colorado history in 4th grade (and don't remember a word of it). I think it must have been a year-long history class, but I don't remember that far back.

I'm not sure about the details, but I know to be certified to teach history in California you have to take a few California history classes. I assume that's because there's a California history class somewhere in the public schools.
posted by lilac girl at 2:36 PM on April 7, 2010

4th grade in California, also.
posted by ctmf at 2:36 PM on April 7, 2010

We focused on state history (Michigan) for all our social science instruction in 4th grade. Don't think it was a state requirement though.
posted by dagnyscott at 2:37 PM on April 7, 2010

oh, and like radiosilents with early american history up there - the civil war section was way more show & tell like then the rest of our history topics.
posted by nadawi at 2:38 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Louisiana requires it, too.
posted by artychoke at 2:38 PM on April 7, 2010

I had a semester-long Michigan History class in high school, circa 1982. I think it was an elective.
posted by not that girl at 2:38 PM on April 7, 2010

In my New Jersey school in the late 80s, we did a year of New Jersey studies - history, geography, etc. I think it was fourth grade. It was a private school so I don't know if there's any state-mandated program, though. Every so often I wonder whether there might have been some better way to spend that year, since I have no need to recognize all the New Jersey counties by shape, nor could I do so at this point.
posted by Stacey at 2:39 PM on April 7, 2010

North Carolina history, 4th and 8th grades. They mixed it up with a combo of state, national and world history in different years.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:39 PM on April 7, 2010

We had "Michigan Story" as an elective social studies class at my high school. This was in the late 1970s, but my younger brother (class of '84) also took it.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:40 PM on April 7, 2010

4th grade in New Jersey (at least, it was in the mid 80s). I made a papier mache relief map of the state detailing mountains, waterways, and Six Flags: Great Adventure.
posted by decathecting at 2:40 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maryland state history in seventh grade, in the 1970s at least. Since my husband and I grew up in Maryland, and my sons are growing up in Texas which has the same requirement, I imagined that every state did the same.
posted by Ery at 2:42 PM on April 7, 2010

Response by poster: Good Lord, it appears EVERY state has them. I don't know where I got this idea that I'd heard other states don't.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:45 PM on April 7, 2010

4th grade, and throughout middle school - Vermont.
posted by papayaninja at 2:47 PM on April 7, 2010

California history was so much fun because we got to make our choice of Missions out of sugar cubes! Also, those colorful 49ers made for a pretty exciting segment on the Gold Rush beginning with Sutter's Mill and ending with us eating sourdough bread. California History was one big jumble of Spanish Haciendas, Covered Wagon Pioneers, peaceful Indians, Cowboys, and Franciscan Fathers.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:48 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Arizona had them, at least in the early 80's; I don't remember whether it was a semester or a full year, but it was taken in 7th grade. We had some in 3rd grade social studies, too.
posted by magicbus at 2:49 PM on April 7, 2010

Yep, can absolutely confirm the Georgia State History requirement. I remember it very clearly from the 8th grade. It was actually sort of interesting (in retrospect) - part of the required assignment was the completion of The Notebook, where all sorts of state-related info was collected. The list of items was provided at the beginning of the year, and required the student to write to their representatives, the school board, etc. State symbols and whatnot had to be researched. The geography bit was pretty fun, too.
posted by jquinby at 2:49 PM on April 7, 2010

*raises hand for New York*.
posted by amethysts at 2:50 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am from West Virginia, and we had a mandatory West Virginia History class in the 8th grade.

My teacher (Hi, Mrs. O'Field!) was very into the subject matter, and WV has a rich history, so it was a pretty awesome class.
posted by teatime at 2:50 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had Maryland history in 3rd or 4th grade. Holler at the Calverts!
posted by sallybrown at 2:52 PM on April 7, 2010

In Georgia every 8 th grader takes Georgia History for a semester and in Missouri you have to take Missouri Constitution for graduation.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 2:59 PM on April 7, 2010

All year long throughout 4th Grade we had Missouri History. We got to go on a train trip to the state Capitol, which was really fun.
posted by zsazsa at 3:02 PM on April 7, 2010

I remember take an Illinois State Constitution class and test in HS. Maybe half semester... there was a federal version too. Not so sure about an Illinois state history class. Probably wouldn't remember it even if I did.
posted by sbutler at 3:03 PM on April 7, 2010

I can't recall how much time was spent on NJ in 4th grade, but there is a picture of me pointing to my Bergen County piece of a class-baked state cake.
posted by djb at 3:05 PM on April 7, 2010

Florida definitely has them. For most of the state, it culminates in an all-day trip to historic St. Augustine, but if you grew up and went to school in St. Augustine like I did, then it merely involves a boring 45-minute walk downtown followed by a pizza party and watching The Price is Right when you get back to school.
posted by saladin at 3:05 PM on April 7, 2010

I had to take Louisiana History in 8th grade.
posted by tryniti at 3:05 PM on April 7, 2010

Good Lord, it appears EVERY state has them. I don't know where I got this idea that I'd heard other states don't.

That's because Texans think that they have the only state worth studying. But a few things have happened in other states... j/k.

+1 for Alabama history in a public school.
posted by parkerjackson at 3:06 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

4th grade in KY.
posted by dilettante at 3:11 PM on April 7, 2010

I know more about William Penn then I care to admit, so yeah, count PA in too.

(You know it means "Penn's Woods," right?)
posted by zap rowsdower at 3:11 PM on April 7, 2010

I don't honestly remember how long we spent on it, but I know we covered South Dakota history in school.
posted by graventy at 3:14 PM on April 7, 2010

We also had New Jersey state history in 4th grade (public school). Our textbook was "On the Go in New Jersey!" and we learned the northern most point (High Point), the southern most point (Cape May), the longest river (Raritan) and the largest lake (Hopatcong). Possibly also some stuff about the Blackfeet tribe that originally occupied our little state, and that it was the 3rd state admitted to the Union.

I am flabbergasted at how much of that I have retained.
posted by stennieville at 3:15 PM on April 7, 2010

Minnesota history, checking in.
posted by unixrat at 3:15 PM on April 7, 2010

When I went to college, a friend of mine, who would have graduated 1999, said that sometime, probably in middle school (so early-mid-90s), she had Maryland history class.

I thought that was freaking bizarre. I don't know anyone who had that in Connecticut.

I just asked reptile, whose brother is currently in public high school, and he doesn't think they have it. (We both went to private school and totally didn't have CT history.)
posted by cobaltnine at 3:25 PM on April 7, 2010

There was a system in social studies curriculum, not mandated, but wide spread, that was based on the "expanding world" idea, rather than breaking it down into different topics (history, Geography, maybe Econ and Soc) as had been done previously. I think it started in the sixties.

In kindergarten, you learned about community (down to the classroom level) and neighborhood, then did city, then state, nation, world. Then repeat with more detail. Sixth grade civics (city level); seventh grade, the state (and where history was begun as more than stories.); eighth grade was national history, then world for two years. There was some variation of course, but the pattern was wide spread.
posted by Some1 at 3:31 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

when you grow up in New England, "Early American History" basically becomes state history.

Yeah I'd have to say "I don't know" because I don't know if we got special Massachusetts history or if that was just US History. Looks like Mass has "Massachusetts and its Cities and Towns" in third grade.
posted by jessamyn at 3:35 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ohio in 4th Grade! Go famous Ohioan Character Fair!!! I've been boring people with Ohio trivia ever since :)
posted by rachums at 3:38 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

West Virginia not only mandates these classes, they also give an award (the Golden Horseshoe) to the 8th graders across the state who perform best on a test of it. If you don't know why it's called the Golden Horseshoe, you probably didn't qualify for the award.
posted by arco at 3:40 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

Nebraska history: 3rd or 4th grade, can't remember. Also, it was an elective in high school.

Bottom line: Anyone who thinks they didn't have state history while attending a public elementary school in the U.S. in the past 30 years is misremembering, or a damn dirty liar!!!
posted by dahliachewswell at 3:49 PM on April 7, 2010

We had "Michigan Week" every year in grade school.
posted by 6:1 at 3:57 PM on April 7, 2010

I don't recall taking a specific Virginia history class, but we did a WHOLE lot of colonial history and visited Williamsburg frequently (mostly to go to Busch Gardens).
posted by cyphill at 3:59 PM on April 7, 2010

Hawaii history, pretty much all through elementary school, at least through 4th grade, when we moved. Private school, though, so public schools might be different.
posted by rtha at 4:03 PM on April 7, 2010

I've been boring people with Ohio trivia ever since :)

You can never bore people with Ohio trivia. Some Toledo War anyone? :)
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:06 PM on April 7, 2010

Yep, Maryland in 4th grade, 1986. I remember thinking at the time that being an expert in Maryland history would be a weird thing I'd have for the rest of my life, and that it wasn't all that useful.
posted by jewzilla at 4:13 PM on April 7, 2010

We covered Minnesota history in 6th grade, both public and private school. I think there was a required trip to the capitol for 6th graders. I remember we had to pass a test about crazy details of the capitol building like what kind of marble was in the rotunda and how many rooms there were, etc. We covered a bit of South Dakota history in my South Dakotan high school and did the obligatory trip to that capitol too.
posted by bristolcat at 4:15 PM on April 7, 2010

I had Indiana history for a whole year in 4th grade. I think my class, (2000) was the first to take it in 1991-1992 and up until at least four or five years ago, they were still using the same old textbook. Friends from AZ had AZ history for a year (I think Mrs. Potate said 6th grade). Last year, little brother had a year of Michigan History for 4th grade.

Incidentally, IN history was, up to that point, my favorite class I'd taken. No matter where I'm living, I still celebrate every December 11th, with extra beer if the year ends in a 1 or a 6. 2016 will be an effing bacchanal.
posted by The Potate at 4:17 PM on April 7, 2010

Parent of a high school senior in Tennessee here. She swears she has never ever had any specific course in Tennessee state history.
posted by raisingsand at 4:18 PM on April 7, 2010

Back in the 70's, Ohio history was an 8th grade course. And I think almost every 4th grader living in California has built (or at least visited) a mission, although my son opted to make a ranchero out of homemade adobe instead.
posted by metahawk at 4:29 PM on April 7, 2010

4th Grade in Utah, nothing in Junior High in AZ. I just assumed everyone in AZ was taught in Elementary too.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:31 PM on April 7, 2010

Fourth-graders are expected to learn about our country's five regions, the Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, and West. They should gain an understanding of the physical characteristics (canyons, cliffs, deserts, mountains, lakes, etc.), features, natural resources, history, and climate of these regions.

In addition, students will be expected to learn these regions' cultures, including customs, food, and arts, while exploring how different cultural groups have contributed to the United States. Typical activities include researching a region to create a travel brochure, a PowerPoint presentation, or a student museum.

Children in fourth grade study state history by exploring culture, economics, and geography. They're expected to identify the customs, celebrations, and traditions of various groups of people and to compare the way families lived long ago to the way they live now by surveying jobs, transportation, food, literature, art, values, and celebrations. Classrooms should also include lessons on early settlers and Native Americans.

To learn their state's geography and physical features, students are sometimes asked to build a three-dimensional relief map and label mountain ranges, rivers, and cities. Other projects might include designing a brochure that highlights state history, facts, and points of interest or building a model of a historical building like the state capitol. Fourth-graders are also expected to know state natural resources and study the difference between renewable resources (for example, water and forests) and nonrenewable ones (coal and oil).

posted by water bear at 4:32 PM on April 7, 2010

I took Tennessee history in 7th grade (taught by Mr Hennessee)(!). It was required then, way back in the 80s.
posted by Eumachia L F at 4:33 PM on April 7, 2010

Ohio definitely switched to 4th grade at some point after the 70s. (I cut all the pages of my report into the shape of the state, and colored the seal onto the cover.) There may have been Ohio-specific questions on the proficiency exams, but I don't recall any other extended Ohio-only lessons.
posted by ubersturm at 4:35 PM on April 7, 2010

zap rowsdower says Pennsylvania does. But I went to school in Pennsylvania and never did. But I went to private schools; it's possible that the public schools are different.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:36 PM on April 7, 2010

I, too, had a year of New Mexico history in the 7th grade, as well as various New Mexico history classes during elementary school.
posted by pravit at 4:37 PM on April 7, 2010

Kansas required a state history course for graduation that could have been taken in either middle school or highschool.

I missed the class since I was out of the state during middle school, but I still graduated.

posted by aetg at 4:44 PM on April 7, 2010

Alaska requires a semester of high school Alaska studies for graduation. The course outline looks (more or less) like this. The district I teach in focuses on Alaska stuff in its standard social-studies curriculum for elementary school in grades 2 and 3, but I don't know if that's by state-wide edict or not.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:45 PM on April 7, 2010

In addition to the 4th Grade Virginia History classes mentioned above, some school districts also have a 8th or 9th Grade Virginia History class.

Plus, our history classes are often skewed to ... highlight ... Virginia's contributions.
posted by julen at 4:50 PM on April 7, 2010

Yep, NJ history is 4th grade. We were each assigned one of the 21 counties* to do a project on. Plus, we did a project about the Native American tribe (the Lenni Lenape) of the immediate area in 3rd grade.

And I think talking about Molly Pitcher at the Battle of Monmouth was mandatory every time we did the Revolution. Or drive past her rest area on the Turnpike.

* Yes, I, unlike Lautenberg in that 1994 senatorial debate against Chuck Haytaian, can name all 21 counties of NJ. In alphabetical order. :P
posted by lysimache at 5:04 PM on April 7, 2010

I had a unit of Connecticut history in 4th grade. It was mostly about the various things invented in CT, many of whose provenances are in question. This taught me early on that teachers weren't perfect.
posted by jtron at 5:15 PM on April 7, 2010

Definitely had Maryland history in elementary school (early 2000s). For random reference this was the curriculum in middle school: 6th grade-Mesopotamia/Ancient Civs. 7th grade-Africa, Latin America, and Medieval Europe. 8th grade-American History..
posted by majikstreet at 5:17 PM on April 7, 2010

I work in the U.S. textbook industry. I can tell you, nearly every state has a state history course in 4th grade (occasionally 3rd), and most that don't have some sort of U.S. regions course that makes special mention of their state. Some states teach state history again in middle school. But it looks like I'm a little late to the game in saying this.
posted by ifandonlyif at 5:22 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

I had an Ohio history class in the late 70s, I'm pretty sure it was 8th or 9th grade. It was not in grade school.
posted by matildaben at 5:26 PM on April 7, 2010

I had Texas history in 3rd grade, then moved to Montana, where they had Montana history in 4th grade.
posted by Bruce H. at 5:29 PM on April 7, 2010

ifandonlyif: so what are the exceptions?
posted by idiopath at 5:29 PM on April 7, 2010

In addition to the lessons in fourth grade, Montana History was a required class for high school sophomores at both of the schools I attended. The school located on the Blackfeet Indian reservation also required a semester of Native American history that same year.
posted by nenequesadilla at 5:45 PM on April 7, 2010

Had a third of a year of Montana history in 7th grade.
posted by msbrauer at 5:54 PM on April 7, 2010

Of course Oregon had state history classes. How else were they going to work the Oregon Trail game into the curriculum?
posted by asciident at 6:00 PM on April 7, 2010

At least when I went to school in Kingsport TN, we did have a state history course. This was awhile ago.
posted by josher71 at 6:02 PM on April 7, 2010

4th grade in California. The build-a-mission project is so ubiquitous that Michael's craft stores sell kits. I can't believe the teachers will accept them, but apparently they do.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:04 PM on April 7, 2010

I actually can't think of an exception at the top of my head (either having a straight-out state history course or a U.S. Regions course with some mention of state content). But I've only worked on projects for states of a certain market size. I really don't know much about the smaller states.
posted by ifandonlyif at 6:11 PM on April 7, 2010

We had Michigan history in 4th grade.
posted by mittenbex at 6:15 PM on April 7, 2010

I don't know if it was a whole class, but we definitely did at least a unit on New York State history in elementary school (early 1990s), and may have focused on it later on in middle school. According to the NYS Social Studies curriculum, "History of the United States and New York " is one of the 5 content areas.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 6:15 PM on April 7, 2010

As mentioned above, in Illinois, the Illinois State Constitution is incorporated into the state Constitution test (the test on both the Constitution and the IL Const). We did a brief foray into Illinois and Chicago history in grade school, but nothing in high school. That said, I went to Catholic school, and while we had to uphold state standards like the state Constitution test, we didn't have to follow the curriculum.
posted by quadrilaterals at 6:18 PM on April 7, 2010

Yah, like in Mass, Virginia's history mixes and merges with generally the history of America starting at Jamestown.
posted by Atreides at 6:20 PM on April 7, 2010

We had a year of South Carolina history in 8th grade.
posted by chiababe at 6:36 PM on April 7, 2010

Seconding rtha, although I was in a public school. Hawaii makes it mandatory... I think I had Hawaiian history in some shape or form all the way through 7th grade (with maaaaybe one year off in that whole bunch).
posted by the NATURAL at 6:37 PM on April 7, 2010

I had a semester of South Dakota history in 4th grade. It culminated in a project to make an A-Z book for the state, every one ending in Ziolkowski, Korczak.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 6:37 PM on April 7, 2010

We had Mississippi history. Mississippi white guy history.
posted by thebrokedown at 6:47 PM on April 7, 2010

I don't remember learning about New Jersey, except that in I think 4th grade in art class we made wooden puzzles of the state (each county was a puzzle piece). Looking bad, I am kind of surprised that anyone let 4th graders use jigsaws.
posted by amro at 6:51 PM on April 7, 2010

States we have not heard from:

New Hampshire
North Dakota
Rhode Island
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:00 PM on April 7, 2010

Ditto Louisiana history, 8th grade.
posted by J-Train at 7:05 PM on April 7, 2010

One year of North Dakota history.
posted by nathan_teske at 7:15 PM on April 7, 2010

Graduated from high school in 2001. In ninth grade we were required to take a semester of Washington State History (hi Mr. Albert!) and that was all the history we took freshman year. (The other semester? Keyboarding.) It was a pretty great class, actually. Wish it had lasted all year.
posted by Neofelis at 7:17 PM on April 7, 2010

Iowa requires all students take one semester of Iowa state history sometime in junior high. I took mine in the 5th grade and we had a special Iowa state history textbook.

Alaska now requires Alaska state history. I believe that it is addressed throughout a child's schooling. It is a new mandate so things aren't so settled.
posted by Foam Pants at 7:43 PM on April 7, 2010

States we have not heard from:


Maine here.
Yes, required: Maine Learning Results Reqirements. In addition to the things you'd expect, students are also mandated to learn about the four indigenous tribes native to the area now called Maine. Its not a year-long thing, like Texas, though. There are different requirements for different grade levels, so you get a little bit every year or so.

There is also a corny song (sung to the Yankee Doodle tune) that every kid in Maine learns in Elementary school. Its a mnemonic for the county names.
posted by anastasiav at 8:03 PM on April 7, 2010


7th Grade.
posted by bach at 9:22 PM on April 7, 2010

I see a couple people claiming Ohio history in the 4th grade, but at my school we covered it in 7th grade. I come from a pretty backwards small town though, so who knows if we were an outlier.
posted by imabanana at 11:12 PM on April 7, 2010

Washington State graduation requirements include US and Washington state history.

I remember having a Pacific Northwest History course in 4th grade, and again for a quarter in 7th. In my school district (North Thurston) we could use the 7th grade class to fill the state graduation requirement. If you failed the class in middle school, or moved from a different state after 7th grade, you had to take PNW in high school.
posted by emmling at 5:41 AM on April 8, 2010

One semester of North Dakota history in 8th grade, early '80s.
posted by SomePerlGeek at 5:45 AM on April 8, 2010

Not a state but a colony/commonwealth here: Puerto Rico has official serious history classes during junior or senior year although it also happens in less serious terms all the way through schooling.
posted by lizarrd at 11:40 AM on April 8, 2010

Adding to the chorus of Californian sugarcube mission anecdotes.

At my school at least we spent a lot of additional time on San Francisco history itself (the Great Quake/Fire, field trips to the US Mint, Alcatraz, Fort Point etc) and a special segment dedicated to the Gold Rush. The highlight of the year was spending half an hour searching in a rocky field for little rocks that the teachers had spraypainted gold.
posted by geckoinpdx at 3:50 PM on April 8, 2010

I can't actually remember taking an Indiana state history class but I do remember taking an Evansville city history at some point fairly early on. I also seem to remember particular emphasis on the French and Indian wars
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:59 PM on April 8, 2010

Wow, so the other Californians here only had state history one year in elementary school?

I went to a very good public elementary school in one of the poorest districts in CA, and ALL our history was about California -- we never made it to the US as a whole. So, in third grade, we focused on pioneers and Californian topography (created a topographical map of the state from sawdust! and we drew in fault lines with toothpicks! that was awesome!). In fourth grade, we focused on native communities (and each had to focus on a different one, and write reports throughout the year, and if, our parents were able and the tribe had an existing home, visit the reservation or community). In fifth grade, on the colonial Spanish presence. And sixth grade, back to American Indians, with -- how random! -- a side of square-dancing lessons.

Thinking back on all this, I'm suddenly extremely puzzled, and also abruptly enlightened about why anecdotal tidbits about east coast history, and the American Revolution, continually come as surprises to me.
posted by artemisia at 12:28 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wisconsin - I remember taking a state history class in 6th grade.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:48 PM on May 21, 2010

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