Part 1

Chapter Contents

Part 3

[Introduction] [Projects] [Interpersonal] [Informational] [Pedagogical]
[Research] [Professional] [Navigational] [Conclusion]


The FDR Collection Database

Students from Nishayama High School working in conjunction with the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York, have created a stunning archive of American history. As part of an ongoing project, students from both history and computer classes have scanned and catalogued a vast collection of political cartoons from the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. The 'FDR Cartoon Collection Database' affords visitors a glimpse into the turbulent years of the Great Depression and WW II at the same time allowing students to work with primary documents in preparation for their AP history exams. Their database provides a tool for research and analysis in the classroom and from their Web site teachers are invited to download the project data for use with their own database applications.

Explorers of the West Sketchbook Project

Another exciting initiative comes from a retired teacher from Alberta, Canada. Bruce Haig has for many years collected photographs, reminiscences and other raw material on the exploration of western North America which he and his students turned into audio-visual productions. Referring to an earlier project, Mr Haig describes the motivating effect such primary sources can have for students of history.

As the community discovered we were recording and preserving its past, interest and support for the project grew. {...} We found ourselves going further and further afield as we discovered new links to the past. Before the programs disappeared in the early 1980's we had researched and retraced the route followed by Mounties when they brought law and order to the west. We had floated down the Missouri River and followed in the footsteps of the first explorers across the Rockies. It was a very exciting time.

Thanks to the Web, Mr Haig is now able to share some of his historical materials with other teachers and students. He has developed an online project 'Explorers of the West Sketchbook Series' and invites classes to submit sketches based on historical journals and other source materials which he has made available from his homepages in Canada. To date the project has resulted in the publication of several sketchbooks from a number of participating schools.

The Library of Congress Learning Pages

The Learning Page from the Library of Congress offers a range of projects using primary sources (based on their online collections). Project ideas are arranged by broad instructional categories many of which can be used across disciplines and grade levels. Catagories include architecture, creative writing, critical thinking, historical evidence, local history and research methods. The site affords an opportunity for students to acquire a number of research strategies for working with other online sources.

The Zimmerman Telegram

In a project from the US National Archives The Zimmerman Telegram students develop a U.S. response to submarine warfare during the early years of World War I following the decipher of the Zimmerman Telegram. This activty uses primary documents from the archives to familiarize students with the basic skiils of information problem solving.

Such initiatives model new and creative uses for primary sources on the Internet as well as providing an inspiration for others to launch similar projects in their own communities.


The Electric Library is a valuable resource for any library or classroom. Using this modestly priced service ($9.95 per month) it is possilble to gain access to full-text articles from 150 newspapers and nearly 800 magazines, two newswires, more than a thousand classic books, maps, photographs as well as works of literature and art. The search facilities are easy to use and there is a free two week trial subscription which makes it possible to preview the material before subscribing. Having taken full advantage of the trial subscription, we would recommend this service to any teacher of history and/or social studies. It is a comprehensive general reference site and one well worth exploring.


'History in the Raw' , published by the US National Archives, offers a rationale for teaching with primary source documents. In his essay 'Pedagogy of History' Rob Cole, a student at Columbia University, examines the potential impact that widespread access to such primary sources could have on the study of history.

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