Primary Sources on the Net


A Virtual Field Trip for Teachers

Destination: “The Past”








Essential Question:


How can primary source materials help us to learn?




Learning Standards addressed:

MST 2: Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.

ELA 1: Students will read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding.

ELA 3: Students will read, write, listen, and speak for critical analysis and evaluation. 

SS 1: History of the United States and New York

SS 2: World History




Stop #1: Where in the Web Are They?


Activity A: Visit History in the Raw and read why the use of primary sources is beneficial to students. Then explore the resources (list follows) to build a primary source set. Collect three sources that enhance a topic you teach.


Activity B: Pair Up to create instructions/tip sheet on how to browse and effectively search one of the online repositories. Include your insight in finding useful sources, for example, navigation bars, teacher resource area, categories/index, etc.




Ř       The Library of Congress: American Memory Collection
The American Memory historical collections contain documents, motion pictures, photographs, and sound recordings of important events in the history of the United States.


Ř       EyeWitness - First–hand accounts of historic events from the 17th century to the 20th. Once you get to the site use the index at the top of the page, which lists the time periods and the option to find sources based on format (sounds & snapshots.)


Ř       The History place - A timeline of American history from the Colonial period to present-day with access to a rich collection of source documents, including the written word, audio clips, and visual images.


Ř       US National Archives & Records AdministrationA searchable databases of documents from the National Archives. Click on the Exhibit Hall for a collection of documents by topic. Then click the Digital Classroom to look at teaching resources.


Ř       History Online - History Resources and Virtual Visits, Ancient Civilizations, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Medieval Times, Exploration and Discovery, Colonial America, American Revolution etc.




Stop #2: Primary Sources in Action!


Activity: Look at example activities and lessons that use primary source materials. Then create a short activity for each primary source collected in activity 1. You may modify any activities you came across online.



Historical Treasure Chests
A SS and Language Arts Activity Using Primary Sources


Understanding Primary Sources: Reading a Historical Photograph
Students learn how use photograph to gather information and draw conclusions. This lesson plan also provides a printable worksheet and related links


Primary Source Worksheets
Students learn about primary and secondary resources through online or printable activities.


Using primary sources in the social studies curriculum for elementary school teachers in grades K-6


Teacher Resources - Using Primary Sources in the Classroom




Final Activity

Option A:

Construct a PowerPoint presentation to be used for class instruction. Incorporate your primary source set.

Possibilities: (examine a historical event, or How to analyze a primary document).

Option B:

Use Microsoft Word to write a lesson plan that incorporates your primary source set. (Use the NYS learning experience format.) The lesson should include an Essential Question and Higher Order Thinking Skills.


Share your Final Activity with your peers.



Web Authoring for Teachers