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Sweet Land of Liberty – Memorable Moments in American History – The 20th Century DVD Review by Holly Johnson

Marshall Publishing & Promotions, Inc.
1075 Bradford Court
Elgin, IL 60120

Our family loves history!  If there’s a subject that the kids don’t want to study, I look for a way to couch it within a framework of history.  Sometimes, though, it’s difficult to get a clear picture of the events that shaped our nation’s background.  It’s times like that when we turn toward audio-visual materials, such as this DVD, the Sweet Land of Liberty – Memorable Moments in American History.  The 20th Century DVD is part of a set, but we only used this one as our current historical era of study is The Modern World.

This 70-minute long DVD includes narration, video and audio clips, primary sources, animation, and images.  It’s a collection of history all gathered in one place for easy access as a supplement.  Topics covered include: Civil Rights in America, the Great Depression & Recovery, The Atomic Solution, Suburbia & Levittown, The Space Race, and The Cold War.  Some of the material covered is general knowledge that you’d find in any history class, while other material is more obscure and will keep the history buffs interested.  In some cases, it seemed like the DVD was focusing solely on the negatives from an era, while other times it was very well balanced.  I would have liked to have seen more coverage for 1900-1930 and anything beyond 1970 (though the falling of the Berlin Wall is included).  It seems to focus primarily on 1930-1970, which is a good portion of history, yet fails cover the entire century.  That said, however, it is still an excellent resource.

There are two other DVDs in the series: the 18th Century and the 19th Century.  Each is available for purchase on their website for $19.95.  They include over an hour’s worth of primary documents and commentary, which considerably aid any history class.  They are appropriate for all grade levels, elementary through high school.

We watched this DVD as a family. The first time, we watched the movie in its entirety (which I do not recommend), noting the changes in film quality of primary resources as the years progressed.  However, although watching it as a full-length film was interesting, it didn’t provide the supplemental education that would come from using it as film clips.  Ergo, when we specifically were studying the Cold War the following week, we went back and watched that specific film clip.  The kids were able to visualize what we had just been discussing and reading about, and that visualization sparked off further discussion.  I recommend using this DVD as supplemental film clips.

My kids enjoyed the DVD, and we will probably check out the other two DVDs in the series when we wrap back around to those historical eras.  They are a fascinating compilation of period video and documents that bring history to life.  All of the primary sources are brought together in one location and the publisher has made it very easy to skip right to the section that you are currently learning about, thus using it as a fantastic visual supplement.

-Product review by Holly Johnson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February, 2018