All SALEM in History activities relate to six core themes, chosen collaboratively by the partners, and intended to encourage participants to see an historical narrative and sequential pattern in American history. The core themes are:
The United States in the World-American Foreign Relations
This theme's focus on American foreign relations allows participants to increase their content knowledge of American diplomatic and military history. By discussing the role of the United States in the world, we are able to better understand issues surrounding expansion and its effects both positive and negative, on the nation's values, institutions and history. This topic includes American foreign relations from the revolutionary period through the age of expansion, the world wars, and the Cold War, and also explores the role of the United States in regional and post- colonial conflicts.
American Political Thought-The Constitution and American Democratic Institutions
This theme incorporates both an overview of American constitutional history and an opportunity to study important developments and events in greater detail. Participants learn about the historical context of the Constitutional Convention and subsequent changes to the Constitution, important court cases, and the Massachusetts reaction to these developments. We will also examine the formation and operation of American political parties by discussing important campaigns, issues and structural changes.
Social Changes and Social Reform
Throughout American history, different groups of people, whether organized by race, class, gender, age, profession, or other criteria, have worked to effect change in the American economy, politics, and society. These movements range from the Pennsylvania farmers in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, to antebellum reformers such as abolitionists and women's rights activists, to the modern civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Through study of this theme, we are able to learn the historic context of these movements, the perspectives of different groups of participants and opponents, and the reasons for success or failure.
Immigration and Migration-Cultural Interaction and the Peopling of America
This theme addresses American diversity by examining internal and external migrations throughout the history of the continent and the nation. Participants will learn about the historical context and causes of these movements of people, from the Paleolithic era to the present, reactions to these movements, and how immigrant and migrant groups have adapted to, changed, and enriched American society and culture.
An Industrious People-American Economic History
American economic history, broadly conceived, is essential to understanding not just the workings of today's economy but the important changes over time in American politics, society, and culture. "An Industrious People" allows participants to discuss the historic context of economic developments, the economic factors involved in different political and social issues, and the ways Americans have reacted, adapted to, or protested these developments.
Salem as Place-Local History in a National Context
There are few, if any, better places in the country to study American history than the North Shore of Boston. Here in Salem we are blessed with an incredible abundance of historical sources, and by studying this theme we will become more able to use these local materials (buildings, documents, paintings, images, literature, ships, archeology, and more) to teach national themes. While we will use local materials when examining the other content themes as well, this theme will allow for a more systematic and detailed examination of Salem's history.
During each cycle participants explore four of the six themes very broadly, for each content session (and its related follow-up session) focuses on a specific topic within a given theme.