History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

Who benefitted most from the Homestead and Pacific Railway Acts?

Start by re-capping some of the key content from the first key question of the American West unit using the nifty worksheet below.


This enquiry (the first relating to key question 2 of the unit) asks your students to make sense of an historian’s interpretation, and then test its accuracy.

The interpretation relates to the impact of two pivotal government acts of 1862, the Homestead and Pacific Railroad Acts. Both facilitated increased migration west during the 1860s.

The enquiry develops students’ ability to make sense of interpretations and to substantiate or challenge them with evidence. 

The enquiry then moves on to consider the impact of the Acts on Plains Indians, and students match up aspects of the 1862 Acts with explanations of their impact on Plains Indian life. Finally, students write a response to the historian, explaining how far they agree with her interpretation.  

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  • Lesson presentation: PowerPoint
  • Lesson write-up:PDF
  • Worksheet 1-3: PDF

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