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Teaching with Archival Materials

Information about using archival materials/primary sources in lesson plans and educational sessions.

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Teaching with Archival Materials

Primary sources, such as those kept in Archives & Special Collections, allow students to have hands-on experience using and researching the products of history. Primary sources can also appeal to a variety of learning styles -- some students may work better with photograph collections, while others find their strengths in analyzing oral histories. In the following video (5:57), I talk about things to keep in mind when you're teaching with primary sources. This video was originally created for Harold Hoyle's Fall 2020 EDUC 289A Social Science Methods course.

Resources for Educators

Confronting Hard History

In the following video (1:02:54), Confronting Hard History: Using Primary Sources to Teach Slavery, Civil Rights, Black Lives Matter, Dr. Hasan Jeffries, Associate Professor of History at Ohio State University, discusses how primary sources can be used to help students think critically about past events and link them to things happening today. He stresses the importance of overcoming the empathy gap that can exist between students of today and people of the past. He also talks about how examining narratives of resistance, either as depicted in sources or "between the lines," can connect students to the humanity of people of the past. Dr. Jeffries' introduction starts at 4:01. If you only have time to watch one video about teaching with archives, I would recommend this one. 

Dr. Jeffries also has a shorter TED Talk (13:10) titled Why we must confront the painful parts of US history that addresses many of the same issues.

Omeka Projects

Omeka is an online exhibit platform that allows users to upload and showcase materials including documents and images. It is commonly used to share digitized archival resources online. The following is a list of Omeka projects that include primary sources and lesson plans and/or learning modules for use with students.

Other Resources

Other podcasts, videos, and websites devoted to teaching with archival materials.

Tools & Strategies For Students

Tools and Strategies to Use with Students

The following links includes tools and strategies that you can integrate into lesson plans for use with students.