Matthew Connelly Presents Digital Lessons on the History of Government Secrecy

Historians in the News
tags: military history, freedom of information, classified documents, secrecy


This lesson focuses on the history of U.S. government secrecy and related modern issues. The lesson, which features Columbia University history professor and author of "The Declassification Engine," Matthew Connelly, opens with reflective questions that ask students to consider the purpose of the classification and declassification of government documents. Students then view an introductory video clip in which Connelly talks about recent events related to classified document security. From there, students view and analyze four video clips that detail historical and contemporary problems with the governmental classification system. Next, students view and analyze four video clips that provide an overview of the history of governmental secrecy in the United States. Finally, students view and analyze four video clips that illustrate potential solutions and future steps to fix issues related to governmental secrecy. After the class shares their findings from the video clips, students then respond to a summative writing prompt that asks them to describe what they think will occur related to the issue in the next 20 years.


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