Lesson Plans & Classroom
Ways to Use Primary Sources from the Library of Congress
in the Classroom
The following linked pages offer a wide range of teaching strategies and
learning activities for K-12 classes in American and world history, civics,
politics, the visual arts and literature. Activities and lesson plans contain
a wealth of primary source materials and are also designed to teach students
the skills and techniques that folklorists, historians, anthropologists,
and librarians use in the course of conducting research, interpreting their
findings, and presenting the results of their research to the public.
Along with AFC-specific products and guides, we have highlighted some
of the Library's many educational activities and lesson plans that focus
on our collections. The online presentations, produced by the Library's
Learning Page, indicate some of the ways in which educators can adapt and
integrate the digital collections of the Library in their teaching.
A colorful presentation that encourages students
to research their own community heritage. Complete with project suggestions
and tips for beginners. Especially for middle and high school students.
and Fieldwork: A Layman's Introducton to Field Techniques
View and print out this comprehensive guide
(also available in .pdf format) to conducting field and archival research,
step-by-step instructions from preparation to publication.
the Invisible: Folklore in Sense of Place
"From place names to local legends, traditional
music and crafts to religious practices and foodways, every place may
be experienced through
all our senses...Folklore opens
windows into other times as well as today, making history come alive and
connecting students to community and to the past. In this workshop, we
explore Sense of Place through the folklife
and traditions of participants' own lives and regions as well as the American
Memory collections. "
Cultural Rituals: Nanci Douglas & Mary Ruddy
"Using photos, documents, and music from American
Memory and other resources, students in a communications skills class investigate
rituals and customs of various cultures."
Grapes of Wrath - Scrapbooks and Artifacts
"Students will show how cultural artifacts
from The Grapes of Wrath support one of the book's many themes. The
objectives for this project are:
- To create
museum exhibits of literary symbols
- To show how cultural artifacts act
as literary symbols
use the ethnographic research process as tool for literary analysis"
Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties
"During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the
Work Projects Administration (WPA) was created by the U.S. Government to
provide jobs of all kinds including work for artists and historians. The
WPA California Folk Music Project was organized by Sidney Robertson Cowell,
and California Gold covers several topics for historical exploration including
the Works Project Administration, the immigrant experience, and the methodology
used to gather folkways."
Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip
"In 1939, John and Ruby Lomax traveled the
southern United States, recording nearly 700 examples of folk music and
oratory which, along with photographs and fieldnotes, comprise the online
collection, Southern Mosaic. Together, these materials portray life in
the rural South from the late nineteenth century through the 1930s. For
folk songs, transmitted orally, are communally created and re-created through
time and generations and thus reflect multiple time periods."
from the Dust Bowl: the Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker
"The ethnographic materials in Voices from
the Dust Bowl, 1940-1941 can launch studies into U.S. social, agricultural,
labor, and economic history. The songs, notes, clippings, and photographs
of the collection add a human face to investigations of migration, farm
labor, and social welfare programs during the Great Depression and the
World War I eras."
and Quiltmaking in America, 1978-1996
"Using excerpts from the collection, students
study social history topics through interviews that recount the lives of
ordinary Americans. Based on these excerpts and further research in the
collections, students develop their own research questions. They then plan
and conduct oral history interviews with members of their communities."
About Immigration Through Oral History
"Students engage in visual and information
literacy exercises to gain an understanding of how to identify and interpret
primary historical sources. We identified immigrants in our community who
reflect the ethnic diversity of our student body, enabling students to
compare and contrast the stories of these contemporary immigrants with
those researched in the thirties reflected in American Life Histories,
1936-1940 and other American Memory collections."
"This lesson presents social history content
and topics through the voices of ordinary people. It draws on primary
sources from the American Memory Collection, American Life Histories, 1936-1940."
Primary Sources in the Classroom
"Educators ... throughout the country know that
history comes alive for students who
are plugged into primary sources.
These suggestions for student activities can help you enhance your social
studies curriculum using authentic artifacts, documents, photographs, and
manuscripts from the Library of Congress Historical Collections and other
American Memory Learning Page