The History of American Protest

This course, led by Dr. John Stauffer of Harvard University, explores the rich history of progressive protest literature in American history from the American Revolution to contemporary music. Through an eclectic range of primary sources, students will examine the enduring legacies of three strands of protest: civil rights (starting with the antislavery movement), women’s rights, and workers’ rights.

Read the course outline here and listen to a history teacher introduce the course below.


Please create a free K–12 student account. Note: Only K–12 logged-in students will be able to access the registration form.


  • Thirty-four video sessions led by Professor John Stauffer
  • A certificate of completion for 12 hours of course time

Readings: Recommended readings related to the course are listed in the “Resources” link on the course page. You are not required to read or purchase any print materials. Quizzes are based on the content of the recordings rather than the readings.

Course Access: After registering, you may access your course by logging in and visiting your “My Courses” link.


John Stauffer is the Sumner R. and Marshall S. Kates Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Professor Stauffer is a leading authority on antislavery, the Civil War era, social protest movements, and photography. His nineteen books include The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (2002), Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln (2008), and The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song that Marches On (2013).

The views expressed in this course are those of Dr. John Stauffer.