Heritage Classical Curriculum

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The Heritage Classical Curriculum is a versatile, reading based program that offers an "old-fashioned" approach to World History. Our curriculum combines the best student histories of the past with convenient modern technologies, and a timeless "living books" learning philosophy.

A 'Traditional' History Curriculum

The Heritage Classical Curriculum is unique among World History courses. We promote it as a "traditional" history program, not because it is our idea of what an old-fashioned history course might look like, but because it is based entirely on student histories that were widely read in the early 20th century. Our books have all of the virtues of traditional, patriotic, story-based histories and the imperfections of their own age rather than the errors of ours.

The quality of introductory histories written for American students has declined significantly over the last few generations. Modern universites have surrendered to cultural Marxism, public high schools promote 'social studies' rather than history, and most textbooks present a dull and politicized view of world events. If there is going to be a resurgence of interest in popular history it will need to come from outside official channels.

Fortunately, previous generations have left us an invaluable legacy of student histories that can still engage modern students. We need only go back to our grandparents time to find a wealth of popular introdutory histories. It is this resource; the knowledge and insights of previous generations, that the Heritage Classical Curriculum draws upon. Our curriculum was essentially written by a group of favorite children's history authors of the past. Heritage History defines historical eras, makes reading recommendations, creates timelines, and develops study questions, but the essential content is not our own.

The Heritage Classical Curriculum provide a wealth resources for motivated students who seek to explore their historical heritage without having to confront 20th century distortions. Our courses are suitable for adults as well as young people and for amatuers as well as serious scholars. Advanced students who explore the full range of our offerings will benefit the most from the Heritage Curriculum, but even elementary students can many of our easy-to-read selections.

Study Programs

The Heritage Curriculum is composed of nine courses of study that focus on historical periods most relevant to Western Civilization. These programs are organized as follows:

Ancient Greece

Heroic Age to Alexander
800 to 150 B.C.

Ancient Rome

Kingdom to Fall of West
750 B.C. to 470 A.D.

British Middle Ages

Roman Era to James II
50 to 1688

Christian Europe

Franks to Reformation
450 to 1650


Colonies to Civil War
1500 to 1900


William III to Great War
1688 to 1914

Modern Europe

Revolution to Great War
1650 to 1900


Visigoths to Mexico
450 to 1900

Young Readers

Easy-to-read histories,
legends, biographies.

Most programs are intended for secondary school students and older. They can be studied in any order, but we recommend starting with Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, British Middle Ages, and Early America. Students who are too young for comprehensive history studies may benefit from the Young Readers program. It is composed of short books covering American and World history that are appropriate for grammar school students.

Two additional programs will eventually fill out our World History series, but for now they exist as only book lists.

Overview—Each Heritage Study Program focuses on a particular nation-state or empire and includes a selection of books and study aids. Programs are subdivided into about eight historical periods and reading assignments are suggested for each division. Study aids and review questeions are also organized by historical divions so students working in a supervised study environment can progress through the material in a timely manner.

Books—The most important part of each Study Program is the selection of books associated with it. The 'core' reading suggestions are generally assigned from a few introductory level histories, but there are dozens of other books in each collection as well. These additional volumes include biographies, folklore, adapted literature, military history, historical fiction, and other genres. Some are short and written in a manner that is appealing to elementary students, while others are intended for high schoolers and young adults.

It is this broad range of engaging history stories that allow motivated students to fully explore the subject matter and gain historical perspective. Students who complete only core reading assignments will have a good working knowledge of the essentials but those that go beyond the basics will be the historians and great thinkers of tomorrow.

Historical Divisions—Each Study Program is divided into approximately eight units. These divisions are usually chronological but sometimes they are dedicated to special topics. For example, six units of the British Middle Ages program are chronological, but two units are dedicated specifically to Scottish and Irish history.

Specific chapters are assigned for each unit, as are timelines, character lists and other study aids. The organization of the History Quest Quiz game matches that of the Heritage Curriculum Study Programs and most review questions are based on the 'core' reading assignments. Students using History Quest can earn 'Knowledge Medals' for each division they have completed and the entire quiz game was designed to make reviewing history facts easy and enjoyable.

Study Aids—Most of the Study Aids associated with the Heritage Classical Curriulum are also organized along the same lines as the Study Programs. Timelines, character lists, era summaries, maps, study questions, and battle dictionaries have been created for most programs. These resources were develped to help students recall important details after they have completed their reading assignments. Narrative histories are are often written in a way that engages student interest, but it can be difficult to remember details over long periods or in the context of complicated conflicts. Study aids such as timelines and character lists are therefore intended as a review of, rather than a replacement for the assigned reading.

Other study aids were provided to enhance learning in other ways. Historical and outline maps help students visualize the regions in which historical incidents occurred. The Wars and Battles summaries provided by Heritage History are based on a well known Battle Dictionary published in the early 20th century. It provides information of particular interest to young men interested in military history. Finally, the selection of study questions associated with each historical division are intended to help students review for knowledge based multiple choice quizzes, such as those offered by the History Quest quiz program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Heritage Classical Curriculum FAQs

Aren't the older histories used for the Heritage Curriculum outdated?

Most of the books used in the Heritage Clasical Curriculum were written in the late 19th and early 20th century, so obviously we do not cover recent times. However, histories written about any period before the 1920's are at least as accurate, and often more informative than more recently published versions.

When modern scholars dismiss traditional histories as "old-fashioned" they usually mean they are not up-to-date with current political fashions and biases. But unless one's priority is keeping up with the ever-changing demands of political-correctness, traditional histories have many advantages over more current versions. Two essays that ennumerate these advantages in more detail are: Advantages of Traditional History and Learning History from Grandfather's Bookshelf.

What grade level is the Heritage Curriulcum intended for?

Most of the Heritage Study Programs are intended for secondary students ranging from about sixth grade to college prep high school. The "core" reading assignments are usually given at an intermediate level so the basic material is accessible to all students. But there are many are many supplemental suggestions for advanced students that may even be appealing to college students and adults.

Most Heritage study programs can be completed in one semester. There is no specific order in which they need to be studied, but we recommend students have a good knowledge of Greek, Roman, British Middle Ages, and Early American history before tackling Modern European history.

For elementary school students, the Young Readers collection is a multi-year World History course appropriate for the lower grades. It includes nearly a hundred easy-to-read histories, short biographies and legends that can be read in any order. The Young Readers collection covers common stories from Ancient and Medieval history, but has a particularly strong emphasis on American history that is suitable for grammar school students.

Are there more detailed lesson plans for the Heritage Curriculum?

The Heritage Curriculum was designed to be flexible so that it could be useful to students with a wide range of interests and abilities. It also emphasizes reading and interactive review over written review. Therefore, there are no 'daily' lesson plans, and limited written work. Instead each program is divided into approximately eight units. Specific reading assignments, timelines, Q/A, and and other resources are provided for each unit. Students who are working on a semester basis typically omplete a 'unit' every two to three weeks. If students are using the History Quest quiz game to augment their studies, they can prove competency by earning at least six knowledge medals in each unit. Alternatively they can earn a certain number of extra-credit 'points' by completing supplemental reading assignments selected by a parent or teacher.

Can the History Quest Quiz Game be used with the Heritage Curriculum?

The History Quest Quiz program was developed to be used with the Heritage Curriculum. Its historical divisions are identical with those of the Heritage curriculum, and over 90% of the questions are derived from the assigned reading. Most of the Heritage Curriculum study aids are included in the History Quest program to aid with review.

Since all books refereced by the Heritage curriculum are available in digital form, students using the History Quest program should be able to do all their studies, including reading, review, and Q/A on a laptop or tablet. Once students have earned knowledge medals in each assigned unit, the the History Quest 'Progress Report' program can provide a permanent record of their achievement. See the History Quest page for more information.

Why doesn't Heritage History sell Curriculum CD's?

Between 2011 and 2015 Heritage History sold Curriculum CD's and attended a few homeschooling conferences, mostly in the West. However, we have always been interested in history as a 'hobby' rather than a money-making enterprise and our entire library has always been available for free. Once we stopped traveling to conferences and paying for online advertising we had no need to charge for our curriculum. You can learn more about how the Heritage History website has evolved over the years and what to expect in the future on the Heritage History Past and Future page.

Does the Heritage Curriculum meet High School requirements for American or World History?

If your student is homeschooled, it is easy to adapt most Heritage Study Programs for high school credit. The assigned reading covers the essentials of most historical periods and some additional selections can be assigned for advanced students.

So the Heritage Curriculum can be used for High School credit, but with one important exception:— the Heritage Curriculum does not cover 20th century history. This means we offer an Early American unit that covers American history through the Progressive era, adequate for a single semester of American history, but nothing more recent. Likewise, our European history coverage is extensive, but it only covers events up to the First World War.

Also, the Heritage Curriculum is not a particularly useful way to study for most Advanced Placement Tests. The College Board is constantly revising its guidelines and only recommends specific, recently published textbooks. Their approach to history tends to emphasizes interpretation rather than fundamental facts, and students who are studying for their tests are assured that historical details are secondary to analysis. The following is a quote from the AP World History test instructions:

Students are expected to know . . . "The importance of European exploration, but not individual explorers, "Characteristics of European absolution, but not individual rulers, and "Causes of the World Wars, but not battles in the wars." This empahsis on 'underlying causes' rather than fundamental facts is precisely the opposite of the Heritage History approach.

Why don't you cover 20th century history?

The primary reason we don't cover 20th century history is that we depend entirely on books and other resources that are in the public domain. Almost everything written before 1923 can be reproduced by anyone for no cost, while most contemporary history texts are copyright protected.

There are some excellent books that do a good job of covering many important points of modern history that are online and in the public domain. However, they are generally not written for the introductory reader. We are currently looking at including some of this material, but that project is several years off.

>When will the History Quest App be ready for release?

The History Quest App is a work in progress. A pre-release version can already be downloaded from the Google Play Store that includes Greek, Roman, and British History. It is unlikely that an Apple version will be released before 2020. We will likely have American and Spanish Empire units available in early 2020.