Resources for Columbus Day

Design drawing for stained glass window of Christopher Columbus, LoC
Sun 2 2011

How do you prepare for Columbus Day (October 10)? Is it a day off for your students, just another school day, or a teachable moment? You may be tempted to leave the holiday alone in the classroom. It can bring up issues related to colonization and colonialism, global contact, the definition of heroism, and the purpose of holidays—and that's just scratching the surface.

But it also presents an opportunity to discuss and explore these issues, and to ask what we know about history. How do we know about Columbus's voyages? About the man himself? About the lands and peoples he encountered? What primary sources passed this information down to the present day, and who created them? What information and viewpoints are missing? How have views of Columbus and his voyage changed over time? What materials record those changing views? When was Columbus Day first celebrated as a holiday?

Detail, spotlight page

We've gathered all of our resources on Columbus, Columbus Day, and his voyages in one Columbus Day Spotlight page to help you and your students answer these questions and more. Take a look at Learning Resources for primary and secondary sources, Teaching Resources for strategies from other teachers, and Quizzes to test your knowledge!

(And remember, the 9/11 and Constitution Day spotlights are still available. We'll continue to add new resources to all of our spotlights throughout the year, so bookmark them and check back frequently. Keep your eye out for new spotlights on Veterans Day and Thanksgiving next month!)

About the Author

Lara Harmon is a Senior Research Associate for She received her BA from George Mason University.