Primary sources are materials that come directly from the person or event of record. Such sources could include journals, documents, letter, diaries, memoirs or artifacts. Teaching is made easier with primary sources because students are able to relate to the topic through original visual and audio cues. Primary sources are used to teach virtually any subject from history to science, and even mathematics. It is simple to find and use primary sources online. Many universities, museums and government agencies have digital databases that can be accessed for educational purposes.
• Library of Congress: Primary Sources Guide This lesson guide presents ideas pertaining to the use of primary sources for teaching. Includes various source types and a guide showing how to use them.
• Teaching History Using Primary Sources This teaching guide focuses on using KWL charts with primary sources for increased learning comprehension.
• Primary Resources Online The Reference and User Services Association gives a thorough overview of using the web for primary source research and learning.
Historical Government Documents
Simple talk of government documents is apt to leave many adolescents yawning. When these documents are presented directly in front of their eyes, they are likely to brighten up and retain more of the lesson. Having a tangible source of information is more interesting that reading about it only in text. Giving children and teens the opportunity to explore these historical documents as they were originally written allows a greater level of interaction, which will help keep them interested.
• 100 documents in U.S. History These documents were chosen by the National Archives and Records Administration because of their comprehensive influence over the history of the United States from 1776 to 1965. Major historical milestones are among this grouping.
• Collection of Historical Documents, Pre-Colonial through Present Times This grouping of historical documents features some of the most important papers of our country’s past.
• The Charters of Freedom A primary source available through the National Archives with information pertaining to The Declaration, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights and other important historical documents.
• Governmental Documents A searchable database of primary sources of documented historical events.
• Primary Source for Bills, Acts and Famous Supreme Court Decisions A wide variety of historically relevant information presented in the form of America’s defining documents. .
• Native American Documents Laws and constitution of Native American tribes made available by the tribes themselves and the U.S. Government.
• Documenting History Primary source transcripts and documents from pre-1400 to present times.
• The National Security Archive Original documents relating to issues of National security.
• Government Printing Office Primary source for both current and historical government documents.