Heritage History offers a free collection of eight "Study Programs" for covering different periods of history in a classical fashion. Each Study Program consists of downloadable files (in either PDF or EPUB format) for books in the public domain: narrative histories, biographies, military histories, mythology, legends, historical fiction, complete literary works, and adapted literary works. Many of the books are among those reprinted and sold widely in the homeschool marketplace. They include works by authors such as Helene Guerber, M. B. Synge, Edward Eggleston, John Haaren, John Lang, Padraic Colum, and Alfred J. Church. Students can read these books online, but they can also download the books so that they are not dependent upon an internet connection. Keep in mind that some of these books might seem old-fashioned since they are not updated for either content or language usage.
In addition to downloadable files for the literary works, the Study Programs provide other resources that help students utilize the books as part of semester-long history courses for sixth grade through high school (the logic and rhetoric levels within classical education). For each Study Program, the Heritage History website identifies the few core books that should be read, with the Guerber history series featured prominently. It also lists many other books from which students should choose additional reading material. The Study Programs sometimes include recommendations for only specific chapters in some books. They also identify "Easy Reading Selections" that might be assigned for some students. Books are arranged by genres and are color-coded to indicate the reading level. Each title links to a paragraph-long description of the book to make it easier for parents and students to select among the many choices.
The eight Heritage History Classical Curriculum Study Programs are:
- Ancient Greece
- Ancient Rome
- British Middle Ages
- British Empire
- Spanish Empire
- Early America
- Christian Europe
- Modern Europe
Studies for Biblical Kingdoms and Eastern Empires are under development.
As you might expect, the genres of literature vary from program to program. For example, mythology is included for the study of ancient Greece, but not for more modern eras, and the categories for American Negroes and American Indians show up in the Study Program for Early America.
The Study Programs include study aids, resources that students can use to create a notebook. The study aids include a brief overview of each era being studied, timeline events that students might enter onto their own timeline or use as a study tool, brief descriptions of major characters, a collection of images from original book illustrations (some in color and some in black and white), descriptions and information about critical battles, and a large collection of maps in both outline and detail formats. The material on the website has been organized in a way that makes it easy for even inexperienced parents or teachers to find what they need.
In addition to the above, the Study Programs for Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, British Middle Ages, British Empire, and Spanish Empire also have review questions in both written and quiz-game formats. Eight printable PDFs for each program have at least 20 questions each. These questions are taken from the History Quest quiz game, which has at least three to four times as many questions—most of them drawn from readings in the Guerber history books. The quiz game is played using a free app. At present, the app is available in the Google Play Store for Android devices or the Microsoft Windows Store for Windows systems. An Apple version is due in 2021.
The questions and quiz game help to evaluate student learning, but parents might want to also require narrations (students telling something about what they have read) or essays to ensure that students are making connections rather than simply memorizing information.
This series of Study Programs does not provide complete coverage of all of history since extensive collections of these types of literary works are not available for all countries and time periods. Also, books on recent history are not yet in the public domain.
Heritage History also has a section of resources labeled Young Readers. It includes a selection of more than 80 books, a subset selected from the larger selection of books used for the Study Programs. These are the easiest books—books that can be read aloud to children as young as nine or ten. They cover a broad range of historical eras and can be used to provide an introduction to the study of western civilization for children not yet ready for the Study Programs.
Some study aids are available for various eras for younger students. There are book descriptions, brief character biographies, summaries of eras, timeline information, and reading assignments for some of the books. However, there are no organized plans of study. Consequently, I expect that most homeschooling parents with young students will use these books alongside other resources rather than try to construct their own curriculum from what is available on the Heritage History website.
The books available through the Heritage History website, both for young readers and for the study programs, might also be used alongside programs like Tapestry of Grace, The Story of the World, and Omnibus—classically oriented approaches that recommend students read books such as those in the Heritage History library.
Heritage History is a very useful, free resource for creating your own customized, living-books history courses. As good as it is at this point, the website's creator considers it a work in progress with lots of additions and enhancements yet to come.