Primary Sources

By October 28, 2013 One Comment

Authentic instruction is key to any real learning.  The students have to be involved and engaged, and for that to happen, they have to see the learning as relevant to their lives (right now, not sometime in the unforeseen future).  My fifth-grader asked me a couple of weeks ago why she had to learn how to divide decimals.  She said she’d never use this skill.  I laughed, and explained to her why that particular skill actually is quite useful.  Now, when she asks me the same thing while reading Julius Caesar in high school, I might not have such a good answer.  But that is for another post…

Today’s blog is going to center on primary source documents.  These can help make historical people, places and events relevant to today’s learner by connecting the past to the present.

Links to relevant websites:

  • World Digital Library The World Digital LIbrary hosts over 9,000 primary documents and images from collections around the world. It is sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The WDL can be searched by place, time, institution, topic, and type of resource.  WDL includes a large amount of historical maps and images. 
  • The National Archives This website is easy to navigate and includes a variety of teacher resources. They feature a daily historical document relating to an event from that day in history. The online catalog can be searched using keywords, and 100 “milestone” documents are identified as significant to American history.  It also includes research tips and strategies that could be helpful to both teachers and students.
  • Docs Teach Docs Teach is run by The National Archives, and has links to a variety of instructional activities and documents.  It’s easy to use and provides audio, video, charts, graphs, maps and more.
  •  Spartacus Educational This would be a great site to use to begin research on historical figures.  Each biographical article links to other biographies and primary source documents.
  • The Avalon Project This is a Yale University site and has documents broken into time periods, and then listed alphabetically.  It is very easy to find globally historic sources here.
  • Life Magazine photo documents contains millions of images.  You can search by keywords, decade (1860s through 1970s), or significant people, places, events or sports topics.

Links to relevant apps:

Referenced from

One Comment

  • jabinb says:

    Check out “Wallace Online is the first complete edition of the writings of naturalist and co-founder of the theory of evolution Alfred Russel Wallace. Including a comprehensive compilation of his specimens” Very cool stuff!