Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience.Learn more by visiting the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program and by enrolling in the MCAS TPS online Moodle course.
The Library of Congress offers classroom materials and professional development to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library's vast digital collections in their teaching.Find Library of Congress lesson plans and more that meet Common Core standards, state content standards, and the standards of national organizations.
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Title Subject Area Kindergarten Historians: Primary Sources in an Early Elementary Classroom
This post is co-authored by the Library of Congress Teacher in Residence, Earnestine Sweeting and a Library of Congress 2011 Summer Teacher Institute participant, Teresa St. Angelo. If you’ve ever wondered how early elementary students develop historical thinking skills, check out this lesson with a group of kindergarten historians. The Class of 2025 demonstrated their [...]
The Michigan City Lighthouse
Why is the Michigan City Lighthouse important to thedevelopment of our regional community and how it wasconstructed?(3rd Grade)
Language ArtsThroughout our history, our most honorable heroes practiced the values of hard work and honesty, commitment to excellence and courage, and self-discipline and perseverance. Today, as we work to preserve peace and freedom throughout the world, we are guided by a national character that respects human dignity and values every life.(3rd / 4th grade, High School w/ modifications)Citizenship,CivicsMaps are an important part of history that are often overlooked. Maps are constantly changing with the community. In this lesson, students will look at maps of their community from the past and present to find some changes that have shaped our community. Students will also help add to an updated map of their neighborhood, noting important locations such as their homes and other landmarks which have contributed to the development of their community. This will also make the student feel a connection to their community and want to preserve it for future generations.(3rd Grade)
Social StudiesThroughout history, people have given thanks – sometimes in joyful celebration, often in solemn, even prayerful, ceremony. The United States, over hundreds of years, has come to observe a national holiday for giving thanks.
Additional Files: Teachers's Guide(Grades K-12)
Social StudiesChild Labor - Hidden Secret
This 2 day lesson will be used after students have already been instructed in the structure of persuasive writing. They will gain knowledge on child labor through text and copies of photographs. They will be assigned against or for child labor and write a persuasive paper defending their position.(3rd,4th, and 5th grade)
Back in Time With Benjamin Franklin
This is an introductory lesson to familiarize students with the many contributions/inventions of Benjamin Franklin to engage them for a novel study of the book, Back in Time With Benjamin Franklin: A Qwerty Stevens Adventure.
Additional Files: bifocals, stove, map
(3rd,4th, and 5th grade)
Hardships of Early Colonists
The purpose of this lesson is to show students some of the hardships that the colonists had to face through pictures.
The Civil War through a Child's Eye
The Civil War through a Child's Eyelesson focuses on the use of historical fiction and primary sources to expand students' perceptions of the Civil War era. Literature and photographic images reflect, communicate, and influence human perspectives of historical events. Specifically, the unit helps students to view the Civil War era through a child’s eye, rather than from an adult perspective.Following an introduction to the Civil War using photographic, daguerreotype, and non-fiction sources, students read Paul Fleischman’sBull Runin Readers Theater format. Next, students examine and interpret primary source images of Civil War era children. Then, students reveal their understanding of a child’s perspective in a literary portrait. This lesson integrates reading, writing, and US history standards.
What is the trouble?
Students will compare two pictures of children from the past (primary sources) and decide what the problem is; using the dialogue included with the picture and observation. Students will complete an analysis of primary sources using teacher's guide resource. Students will complete a Venn diagram showing similarities and differences between the two pictures. Once they decide on a common problem they will research possible solutions available at that time in history and create a presentation showing the problem and solution or the problem then and a similar problem now.
Architecture in Michigan City 100 Years Ago
Social StudiesTitleSubject AreaStudents will learn about the Dust Bowl and how extensive farming, without crop rotation, contributed to the severe wind erosion. Students will learn how today's farmers take steps to prevent this from happening again.(6th Grade) Science,
Social StudiesSeveral world architectural styles have been selected. Students will analyze several architectural styles found in their community. They will then be asked to match world architectural styles with their location/culture.(6th and 7th Grade)Social Studies,ArchitectureTeacher and the students will read one story from The Aesop for Children. With student input, the teacher will complete a plot diagram.(6th Grade)
Reading NarrativesStudents will be studying, analyzing, and discussing narratives of two African-Americans during slavery. Students will then write their own narrative and compare and contrast their narratives with the slaves' narratives.(6th Grade)Reading,SlaveryUsing the Library of Congress website, students will research how natural disasters have impacted communities in the early 20th century.(6th, 7th, 8th Grade)Science,DisastersStudents will use the Library of Congress website to research and investigate the print and television advertising history of a familiar product, Coca Cola. They will use their understanding of persuasive techniques, claims, language, and target audience to create their own video or print soft drink advertisement.(7th Grade) Persuasive Elements
Trace steps in the development of written language, including the evolution of Sumerian Cuneiform, Egyptian Hieroglyphics and Chinese Calligraphy.Additional Files: KWL Chart(7th Grade)
Out of the Dust: Visions of Dust Bowl History
Much of history is interpreted from an adult point of view. This unit helps students gain an understanding of Dust Bowl history through the eyes of a child. Using Karen Hesse’s Newbery Award-winning Out of the Dust as an introduction to this aspect of the Great Depression, students have the opportunity to identify with the personal experiences of youth in the 1930s. In addition, students examine primary source materials of the period to correlate the fictional text with actual visual, auditory, and manuscript accounts as found in the American Memory collections.
Jackie Robinson: Remembering Number 42 with Primary Sources
Baseball still holds a special place in the culture of the United
States. As this year’s season opened around the nation’s capital we began to see more and more people wearing baseball caps, shirts and jackets with their team’s favorite logo. Though baseball has been a part of the culture of the United States for many years, not all were allowed to play in the major leagues.
(Middle School and High School)
Subject AreaUsing the Wright Brothers and their airplane as an example, this lesson is designed to use primary source documents (the picture of the Wright Brothers' airplane and their journal) to reinforce how inventors and scientists transform an idea to a working invention. This lesson serves as a simple beginning of the year review of the importance of the scientific method and keeping accurate and detailed notes, as well as an introductory lesson in flight.(9th Grade) Physical Science
Students will work in small groups to analyze photographs, using prior knowledge of history, social studies, and geography, looking for clues to the setting and/or time period of the photograph.(9th, 10th, 11th, 12th Grade)Art,Social StudiesStudents are introduced to the concept that each individual creates and contributes to history.(9th, 10th, 11th, 12th Grade)
Culinary ArtsThis lesson focuses on the drafting of the United States Constitution during the Federal Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia. Students will analyze an unidentified historical document and draw conclusions about what this document was for, who created it, and why. After the document is identified as George Washington’s annotated copy of the Committee of Style’s draft constitution, students will compare its text to that of an earlier draft by the Committee of Detail to understand the evolution of the final document.(9th, 10th, 11th, 12th Grade) Government, Law & PoliticsThe objective of this lesson will offer the learner a wide range of opportunity to learn about the music, political views, fashion, and norms of the hippie counter-culture of the late 1960's.(11th Grade) Social Studies
Common Core State Standards, and many state content standards, emphasize reading informational text. Explore primary sources from the Library of Congress to discover informational text in many formats–including some formats that might surprise you. The more complex the issue, the more varied the perspectives on it, and those perspectives are expressed in sometimes unexpected documents, [...](High School)
This project would be a precursor to reading S.E. Hinton's novel, The Outsiders. Its intention is to introduce students to juvenile delinquency utilizing primary resources of the early 1900's. Causes and effects will be addressed. The juvenile delinquent stereotype of the mid 50's early 60's will be analyzed as well.Additional Files: Photo Analysis Worksheet , Group Oral Presentation Rubric , Analyzing Photographs and Prints(High School)