The primary resources embedded in One World Student Resources are sponsored in part by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Region Program, coordinated by Waynesburg University.
To help you introduce your students to primary sources, One World provides:
- A Lesson Plan to use with students.
- A Video of a One World staff member modeling how to search for sources on the Library of Congress site.
- A Teacher Report on classroom results using primary sources.
Teaching with Primary Sources FAQs
Why is One World Education embedding Library of Congress primary sources into our student resources?
At their best, primary sources can fascinate students because they are real and they are personal; history and their arguments are humanized through them.
We believe that One World students can learn to use primary sources to consider historical perspectives and evidence about their topics to strengthen their arguments on contemporary social justice topics.
What are primary sources?
Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects that were created at the time under study.
Why teach with primary sources?
Teaching primary sources builds students’ knowledge, engagement, and critical thinking skills. Bringing young people into close contact with unique, often profoundly personal, documents and objects can give them a sense of what it was like to be alive during the period they are studying. Helping students analyze primary sources can also prompt curiosity and improve critical thinking and analysis skills about their topics. We want students to think with history in mind as they form their claims, build their warrants, develop counterclaims and collect the evidence for their arguments. The problems they’re studying didn’t emerge from a vacuum. They were crystallized in the cauldron of history.
Teaching and using primary sources exposes students to multiple perspectives on significant issues of the past and present. In analyzing primary sources, students move from concrete observations and facts to asking questions, evaluating information, making inferences, and developing reasoned explanations and interpretations of events and issues.
How to engage students with primary sources?
Each primary source represents a mystery. Students can only explore them further by asking questions and challenging themselves. Ask students to observe each primary source and consider:
- Where does your eye go first?
- What do you see that you didn’t expect?
- What powerful words and ideas are expressed?
- Who wrote or made it?
- When, how, and why was it written or made?
Encourage students to think about their response to the source.
- What feelings and thoughts does the primary source trigger in you?
- What questions does it raise?
- How does evidence from this source fit into my current understanding of my topic?
We want to transform students into skilled essay writers who consider historical perspectives in their arguments. Rather than passively receiving information from a teacher or textbook, students need to engage in the activities of historians — making sense of the photographs, stories, events, and videos—-media from the past, with their own critical thinking.
Where can students find primary sources from the Library of Congress on their own?
- Go to loc.gov and use the search function at the top of the site.
- Go to www.google.com and do an advanced search: type your subject then a space and then site:loc.gov – “subject(space)site:loc.gov” to filter your results to be just from the Library of Congress.
Topics In One World’s Student Resources Featuring Library of Congress Sources
Coronavirus and School Response
Leaving the Paris Climate Agreement
Racial Equality in Employment
Racism in Schools
Response to Coronavirus
Women in STEM
Women’s Reproductive Rights