Digital Vaults

Website review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Digital Vaults Website Poster Image
Interactive tools, great graphics bring U.S. history alive.

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The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Positive Messages

Sends the message that the study of American history can be visual, creative, engaging, and fun.


Historical references to war, slavery, and other violent acts of history.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a 21st century-style site for old-school report research, offering a modern twist to the treasure trove of documents stored at the National Archives in Washington D.C. Tween and teen students can search the site for images of historic documents, photos, and more on the site by keywords. They can also play a sophisticated history matching game and create their own online collections of documents, posters or even make their own movie with the images found here.

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Is it any good?

DIGITAL VAULTS provides modern-day tools to find old information, which makes researching history and American studies easy and visual -- a teen must in this digital age. Most students will likely go to this site specifically for the purposes of finding information or images for a school assignment. But if your tween or teen can withstand wading through the somewhat overwhelming number of visuals on the site, he or she might enjoy trying the Pathways Challenge matching game, making a movie or a poster, or finding out more about an image that intrigues them -- just for fun.

Online interaction: Users who are registered on the site can create their own version of the Pathways Challenge for other players to try and then rate in comparison to others.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role of technology in your kid's education. Consider hosting a workshop at your school about raising kids in a digital age.

  • Discuss the role of the National Archives. Each of the 10 billion records housed there tells a story often hundreds of years old because it was written down or put on film. Related to that, each of the "records" (photos, documents, tweets) your teen places on the Internet tells their story and is recorded for a very long time. (This comparison may help them be more judicious about what they post on Facebook or MySpace). Read more about the importance of digital citizenship.

Website details

  • Genre: Educational
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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