Teaching Materials
Ask a Master Teacher
Lesson Plan Gateway
Lesson Plan Reviews
State Standards
Teaching Guides
Digital Classroom
Ask a Digital Historian
Tech for Teachers
Beyond the Chalkboard
History Content
Ask a Historian
Beyond the Textbook
History Content Gateway
History in Multimedia
Museums and Historic Sites
National Resources
Website Reviews
Issues and Research
Report on the State of History Education
Research Briefs
Best Practices
Examples of Historical Thinking
Teaching in Action
Teaching with Textbooks
Using Primary Sources
TAH Projects
Lessons Learned
Project Directors Conference
Project Spotlight
TAH Projects
Technical Working Group
Research Advisors
Teacher Representatives
Quiz Rules
Teaching History.org logo and contact info

Central Intelligence Agency

CIA seal

President Harry S. Truman created the CIA in 1947 when he signed the National Security Act. Today, the agency performs worldwide reconnaissance, advises the President and key national decision makers based on the intelligence acquired, and operates additional covert missions as directed in order to protect U.S. interests.

The CIA website offers a wealth of information, particularly in the form of web-based articles, on the history of intelligence operations within the United States. These text-based features discuss intelligence during the Revolutionary War and Civil War, the Office of Strategic Services, the Corona project and space reconnaissance, and heroin use worldwide. The Revolutionary War and Civil War articles include suggested reading lists, and the former also offers a letter by George Washington.

If you are interested in historical comparison, the CIA's web publications are of note. The World Factbook includes information on the geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, and transnational issues of the countries of the world. Or perhaps you would like your students to compare historical governments, domestic or international, to their modern counterparts? In that case, the CIA's listing of current world leaders may come in handy. If you just cannot find the information you are looking for, consider the site's suggested reading list.

The CIA also maintains a website for children. The K-5 section holds a short description of the CIA seal, an introduction to K-9 helpers, and a brief history of pigeons as aerial photographers; while the 6-12 section includes brief histories of intelligence and the CIA, as well as biographies of notable individuals, written in the first person. Teachers can also utilize suggested lesson plans.

Finally, the site offers a CIA virtual museum tour which introduces key intelligence artifacts, such as the Enigma Machine. Flash is required for a visual tour, although a text option is available.