A History Timeline Project

11, 12
Keywords & Concepts: 

To develop a basic understanding about the role of philanthropy in the history of the United States

PrintUp to 50 minutes (depending on class size)

Students will develop an understanding of philanthropy in the United States


Enough computers (with Internet capability) for the number of students; a projector or enough flipchart/butcher block paper for all students.

Teacher Preparation 
  1. Develop a list of people and events from philanthropic history that you want your students to research. The following resources would be useful to help you develop your list: A History of Modern Philanthropy Timeline (National Philanthropic Trust); Timeline of American Philanthropy and American History’s Great Philanthropists (Philanthropy Roundtable); Philanthropy in America Timeline (Learning to Give) and Key Dates and Events in American Philanthropic History 1815 to Present (Learning to Give). 
  2. Create slips of paper that show one person or event and the matching year on one side and fold the slips so the print is hidden.
  3. Set up an online timeline using HSTRY (or another timeline creation website or software) OR write the span of years that will be researched for the timeline on the white board and purchase butcher paper so each student can document their findings on their section of paper.

Philanthropy, Research


We will refer to the timeline throughout the course so it is important that it is easily accessible.


Educational Technology and Mobile Learning (2014, January 28). “15 Great Timeline Creation Web Tools and iPad Apps For Teachers and Students.” 


  1. Have students draw (or pass out) slips of paper with the year and person/event he/she will research.

  2. Ask the students to research the person or event and year. Ask them to decide on five interesting facts they will share and to be ready to explain the impact of their topic or how it changed society.

  3. Ask the students to go into the assigned timeline app account and enter the five facts and include a picture. If using butcher block, ask the students to draw a picture that corresponds with the event or person and to place it on the timeline at the corresponding year; students will reference their pictures when presenting their facts.

  4. Each student will stand and share the information that they learned about his/her person or event and year.

  5. Add more detail, where needed, to the discussion about the people and events to bring deeper understanding to how philanthropy has grown and changed over the years.