Whether you’re looking to read up on this topic before joining the conversation, or want some further reading afterward, here’s our recommended reading.
- The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History page What are the Rights and
Responsibilities of Citizens? provides access to valuable resources on citizenship.
- The US Citizen and Immigration Services The Citizen's Almanac: Fundamental Documents, Symbols, and Anthems of the United States contains access to fundamental documents, symbols, and anthems of the United States in addition to a section on rights and responsibilities.
Sources from Colonial Williamsburg's Trend & Tradition Magazine
- “An Uncivil Tongue,” published in Winter 2016
- “An Exercise in Revisionism: How Would You Change the Constitution?” published in Summer2019
- “Sphere of Influence: American Constitutionalism’s Global Impact,” published in Autumn 2020
Colonial Williamsburg's Education Resource Library
The Resource Library provides access to numerous resources that explore relevant themes such as citizenship, civics, and government using video, lessons, and interactive web activities
- A More Perfect Union explores the conflict and compromises that accompanied the ratification of
the U.S. Constitution. Join young eighteenth-century observers, unseen by convention delegates, as they
travel from state to state tallying the vote. Learn about the ratification process and Americans’
growing interests in their fledgling nation’s new government.
- The Bill of Rights protects individual freedoms, but what if the government had too much power
and there was no such thing as the Bill of Rights? Explore an alternate reality in which individual
rights are limited and life is very different.
- The Balance of Power Presidents, members of Congress, and Supreme Court justices from the past
two centuries compete in a baseball game unlike any you've ever seen. Discover how the rules laid out in
the U.S. Constitution preserve the balance of power between the three branches of the U.S. government:
the executive, legislative, and judicial.
- The Will of the People The presidential campaign of 1800 was perhaps the most bitter in U.S.
history. Thomas Jefferson explains to modern students how negative campaigning, partisan politics, and
contested elections have been part of our political system since the republic’s earliest days.
- A Publick Education A free, public education for all Americans was not always the standard. Trace
the methods of education from the colonial period to the one-room schoolhouses of the 1840s for the
purpose of universal education.
- Influenced by None “Freedom of the press” is a principle that Americans take for granted.
18th-century printers, though, were not free to express an independent point of view. Explore the world
of Clementina Rind, printer of the Virginia Gazette in pre–Revolutionary War America.
- Jim Crow carries you from the post-Civil War promise of citizenship and equality for African Americans to the harsh realities of the system of legal segregation known as "Jim Crow."
- We Hold These Truths to be Self Evident shares the story of Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, as told by Paul Aron in his book We Hold These Truths...and Other Words that Made America.
- Civics for a Democratic Society covers the basic concepts of American citizenship and
- Founding Documents analyzes primary documents from different time periods in our history,
compares and contrasts the role of the government and the role of the individual as described within in
each document, and make connections between the documents and The Idea of America value tensions.
- Exploring the Right to a Trial by Jury explores the importance of fair trials and the
difficulties inherent in maintaining impartiality in a trial by jury system.
- How Has Voting Changed? compares and contrasts voting eligibility in the eighteenth century and
today and demonstrates and reflects on eighteenth century and twenty-first century voting
- The Right to Vote The road to “justice for all” has not been a short and easy journey, but one
fought with determination by individuals and groups over time. Voting is an important part of being a
citizen in America and is a responsibility open to all.
- Order in the Court: An 18th-Century Trial investigates the role of law in eighteenth-century Virginia by translating and interpreting primary and secondary sources. They then recreate an eighteenth-century trial and employ critical thinking skills to make and defend inferences about Virginia’s court system.
- The Idea of America: Our Values, Our Legacy, Our Future. By John O. Wilson. Williamsburg, VA:
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2017.
- My America: An Owner's Guide. By William E. White. Williamsburg, Virginia: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2017. (Children's book)