Learning American History Through Movies & Free Timeline

Movie Homeschooling

I could not find a chronological list of movies of American History so I made the one below. Join our Homeschool with Movies Facebook Group for more movie suggestions.

First I created a timeline from 1630 to 2000 into 12 eras and listed the most important people and events. (You can download a 8.5×11 printable version below. ) Then I found period movies for each time period listed below (I will continue to add to this list).

NOTE: The timeline is copyrighted. Please use for personal use only. You may share link here but do not post on your blog or Facebook except to link. Thank you. If this list or the printable timeline is helpful to you, please pass it on via Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or your blog.

Then we made a timeline on a white board and used sticky notes to record people and events as we watched movies (the timeline is not just for

movies but to record any American events we learned about during reading or other subjects). This really helped put events in chronological order when we watch science documentaries or series like “How the States Got Their Shapes” which bounce around in time periods.

Where or How to Get the Movies

Try searching your TV for shows to record on TV. Most the movies below are available through Amazon used. Most can be watched online free through h Prime, Hulu, or rented via Netflix.

Download this Timeline at the Bottom of this Post

Are Movies a Lazy Way to Teach?

Is Movie Homeschooling, homeschooling? Don’t fee guilty using movies to teach. We are hardwired for stories. Jesus used stories to teach. You don’t get brownie points for teaching with dry boring textbooks. Use a movie as a jump off place for further research. When your children start asking things like “Is that why J. P. Morgan worked with Edison?” you know they are learning, thinking and remembering.

American History Overview

Pre America Period

  • National Geographic: America Before Columbus
  • Lost Colony(NR)

1630-1763 Colonial Period

1763-1783 Revolutionary America

1783-1815 Young Republic

  • George Washington DVD
  • Centennial (Miniseries 6 DVDs)
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • War of 1812
  • The History Channel Presents The War of 1812
  • Louisiana Purchase
  • National Geographic – Lewis & Clark
  • Sacagawea – Heroine of the Lewis and Clark Journey
  • Lewis and Clark The Journey of the Corps (Ken Burns documentary)
  • The Awaking Land

1815-1860 Westward Expansion

  • Ken Burns The West
  • Thomas Jefferson (Ken Burns documentary)
  • Ken Burns: America
  • Amistad early 1800s and the tensions that were building toward the Civil War.
  • Alamo
  • Red River
  • Davy Crockett
  • Fort Apache (Lesson Plans)
  • High Noon
  • Wild West Tech – Gold Rush Tech (History Channel)
  • Shane
  • Stagecoach
  • Wyatt Earp (PG-13)
  • Tombstone (R)
  • Unforgiven (R)
  • Walt Whitman
  • Into the West

1830-1876 Civil War and Reconstruction

  • Gone with the Wind
  • Roots
  • The Cause 1861
  • We Shall Remain: Trail of Tears
  • North and South (Mini Series Emmy Award, 8 DVD)
  • The Blue and the Gray (Miniseries 3 DVD)
  • Hatfields & McCoys (Mini Series, 3 Emmy Awards, 2 DVD)
  • Gods and Generals
  • Glory
  • Red Badge of Courage
  • Shenandoah
  • Friendly Persuasion
  • Civil War Documentaries
  • The History Channel Presents The Civil War
  • Dances With Wolves
  • Gettysburg (Widescreen Edition)
  • Ken Burns: The Civil War (Commemorative Edition)
  • U.S. Mexican War 1846-1848
  • Amistad
  • Santa Fa Trail
  • Gangs of New York (1840s to 1863)
  • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitmen (100 years from Civil War to Civil Rights)

1871-1914 Industrial Revolution

  • Backstairs at the White House (Taft to Eisenhower)
  • Industry and Empire: The Birth of the Industrial Revolution
  • Ford Motor Company Auto Manufacturing
  • Henry Ford
  • Thomas Edison
  • Railroad
  • The Great Locomotive Chase
  • The Vanderbilts: An American Dynasty
  • American Experience: The Rockefellers
  • The Men Who Built America
  • Far and Away (PG13)
  • Industrial Revolution
  • Instant Expert: Oil
  • Empires of Industry: Black Gold – The Story of Oil
  • Empires of Industry – Andrew Carnegie and the Age of Steel
  • Spanish-American War
  • Seven Wonders of the Industrial World

1880-1920 Political Reform

  • Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Winds of Kitty Hawk
  • Mark Twain
  • Teddy Roosevelt – An American Lion
  • When Giants Roamed: The Golden Age of Steam (The History Channel)
  • Ellis Island
  • Christy Complete Series
  • Anne of Green Gables (Canada)
  • Mark Twain (Ken Burns documentary)
  • The Rise and Fall of Penn Station

1914-1933 WWI / Prosperity/ Depression

  • The Long Gray Line (50 years Westpoint, Amazon Instant Video)
  • Sergeant York (NR, EXCELLENT!)
  • Lawrence of Arabia (Classic)
  • Paths of Glory
  • Wings (Silent)
  • The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Irish war derived from WWI)
  • Lost Battalion
  • Spencer’s Mountain
  • The War: A Ken Burns Film
  • The Aviator
  • The Dawn Patrol
  • Twelve O CLock High
  • Seabiscuit
  • The Color Purple(R)
  • The Roosevelts (Ken Burns documentary)
  • Probation (Ken Burns documentary)
  • War Horse (PG-13)
  • WWI Documentaries
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Biography: Amelia Earhart – Queen of the Air
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • All the King’s Men
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • The Dust Bowl
  • Cinderella Man
  • Annie
  • Wilson
  • Ironweed (R)
  • J Edgar

1933-1945 New Deal / WWII

  • WWII Documentaries
  • Life Is Beautiful (Outstanding!, 1998 for 7 Academy Awards, won 3 Oscars)
  • War and Remembrance (12 disk series)
  • The Bridge On The River Kwai (Classic)
  • The Longest Day
  • In Harms Way
  • The Pacific
  • Tora, Tora, Tora
  • Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Patton
  • Empires of Industry: Victory at Sea: Mass Producing Liberty
  • The Great Raid
  • Flags of Our Fathers
  • Hope and Glory
  • The Great Escape
  • The Hiding Place
  • Anne Frank – The Whole Story
  • Thin Red Line
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • The Pacific
  • From Here to Eternity
  • Saving Private Ryan (R)
  • Hiroshima (get used)
  • The House on 92nd. Street
  • Passage to Marseilles
  • Airforce
  • Watch on the Rhine
  • Atomic Cafe
  • Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes
  • Truman
  • Red Tails
  • Seabiscut
  • Saints and Soliders
  • Hacksaw Ridge (EXCELLENT!)
  • Sarah’s Key (Lesson Plans, American journalist 1942)

1945-1960 Post War/ Civil Rights

  • Korea The Forgotten War
  • A Raisin in the Sun (Lesson Plans)
  • West Side Story
  • The Best Years of Our Lives
  • The Jackie Robinson Story
  • The Kennedys
  • Ethel Kennedy
  • The Right Stuff
  • Freedom Riders
  • Lee Daniel’s The Butler
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Amazon Instant Video)
  • The Help
  • Rosa Parks Story
  • Something the Lord Made
  • Freedom on My Mind
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

1960-1980 Vietnam Era

  • JFK
  • Spaceflight: The Complete Story from Sputnik to Shuttle – And Beyond
  • Vietnam Documentaries
  • Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Mississippi Burning
  • Martin Luther King Jr
  • Bay of Pigs
  • JFK Assassination
  • Civil Rights
  • Nixon
  • Apollo
  • Frost/Nixon
  • When we Left Earth
  • Apollo 13

1980-2000 End of the Century

  • Argo (hostage crisis in Iran in 1980)
  • Ronald Reagan and the Triumph of American Conservatism
  • The Challenger Disaster
  • Fall of the Berlin Wall
  • All the President’s Men
  • Persian Gulf War
  • Black Hawk Down
  • Three Kings (Gulf War, R, Amazon Instant Video)
  • Untold Stories of Columbine
  • Game Over in Littleton
  • Primary Colors

2000- Today

  • World Trade Center (Amazon Instant Video, R)
  • Remembering 9/11
  • Flight 93 (Amazon Instant Video)
  • The Hurt Locker (Amazon Instant Video, R)
  • Last Letters Home
  • Live from Bagdad
  • The Finest Hour
  • The Social Network
  • Supersize Me
  • Inside Hurricane Katrina
  • The Blind Side
  • 2016: America’s Obama (must see! free here)

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Bible-Based Homeschooling

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Download Free American History Timeline

Click on the heart in the image to download (1 page PDF)


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