History as It Happened


Welcome, students!

Below, you’ll discover articles and reporting taken from the pages of The Nation magazine—history reported as it happened. You will be able to explore primary and secondary sources on key historical events. The material is organized into eight modules, each covering a critical period in the story of US race relations and civil rights.

Each module includes an introduction to the time period; a short list of vocabulary words—phrases you will need to know; and numerous brief excerpts from original Nation articles. Under “As You Read,” you’ll also find questions about the excerpts that can help develop your analytical skills.

The short excerpts for each time period are presented in a DBQ (document-based question) format that resembles the DBQ requirement on AP US History exams. Working with your teacher, in class groups, or on your own, you can practice the skills necessary for the DBQ section of the AP US History test.

To get started, choose a module and begin exploring that time period.


  1. 1865–77: The Post–Civil War Era and Realities of Reconstruction
  2. 1877–99: The Reemergence of White Supremacy
  3. 1900–18: Bleakness and Progress
  4. 1919–29: Return From World War I, Jim Crow, Harlem Renaissance
  5. 1930–45: Depression, War and Bright Spots
  6. 1945–65: Civil Rights, Civil Strife: Landmark Movement Moments
  7. 1966–90: Black Power, the Long Hot Summer and ‘Trickle-Down Economics’
  8. 1991–Present: From Mass Incarceration to Black Lives Matter

You can also access a contemporary collection of Nation articles covering race relations, white supremacy and civil rights—here.

As you read original articles in this archive, you will come across phrases that may sound unfamiliar, archaic, even offensive. Words such as “Negro” and “colored person” were commonly used to describe African-Americans during The Nation’s first 100-plus years. Other terms, including now-discredited terms, appear occasionally, especially in reported pieces. We have retained these terms in the interests of historical accuracy, and we hope that readers will understand their usage as part of the complex record of the way that language has been used over the course of American history.