Teaching with Primary Sources can be a great challenge in our social media world. Students are exceptionally challenged with knowing the difference between primary and secondary sources, but are also confronted with online resources that are often modified or adapted to fit modern goals or to state current perspectives. This places the burden on teachers to find quality primary sources for teaching in the modern classroom.
Top 10 Websites for Teaching with Primary Sources in the Secondary Classroom
- EyeWitness to History has to be my top pick for primary sources. This website has compiles eye witness accounts, incredible images, and even quality video clips from events throughout time. However, my favorite section of the website is Voices from the Past with sound clips that take you back in time.
- The Library of Congress has always been my go-to resource for primary sources. With images and documents galore, there are so many possibilities lurking around every corner.
- Another incredible American staple for primary sources is the Smithsonian. Smithsonian Education provides digital (and print on request) resources for classroom use, and many are truly a step into the past. Collections also provide classroom suggestions and activity plans for easy implementation. And if you are looking for a more verbal representation of primary sources from the past, visit SmithsonianMagazine online for great stories with verified resources.
- Traveling and history are my passions, so the National Parks are often on my list. In addition to providing amazing natural retreats, the National Parks System also provides incredible primary source teaching packages. Request a Traveling Trunk for tools to take your students back in time and to inspire their next vacation destination!
- OurDocuments.org is the place to go if you are wanting to teach an American History or Government course with primary sources. Take a look at the 100 Milestone Documents link for the turning points in our nation's past.
- For American History research projects with primary sources, the starting place should be The National Archives. When visiting Washington, D.C., this is always a required stop for teachers, and the online site will impress just as much!
- PBS Learning has long been a teacher resource for great lessons about our past. In its updated version, you can find great primary sources and learning tools to engage students in topics of the past and present. Visit Election Central for up-to-date presidential election resources.
- For those wanting to examine the speeches that have carved out America's path through time, take a look at American Rhetoric's Top 100 Speeches. Download files in pdf or mp3 format for a whole different learning experience.
- NewseumEd is another great website for primary sources and artifacts that will bring learning alive for your students. While their teaching resources are still rudimentary, the learning materials are some of the best you will find online.
- While I do love images for teaching about the past, my next favorite resources are newspapers. Newspapers provide the best of both worlds, while also adding a touch of bias for examination! And there are two quality websites for searching the topics of interest to your students. The Library of Congress' Humanities Project provides a great search tool that is easy to use, but the BSGU Newspaper Page has an amazing listing of newspaper resources that go back hundreds of years.