Primary and secondary sources

Topics include:

  • Historical maps and speeches
  • General resources

American Memory Project – A collection of documents, sound clips, photographs, interviews, and other primary source materials related to U.S. History.

Ancestry – Free Historical Lesson Plans – Family history projects for K12 students allow them to build powerful inquiry skills while learning from home. The sources and documents found on Ancestry gives students across the nation the opportunity to make connections to their ancestors, historical places, and events throughout time. Their research journey will provide powerful insights into their own family and bring their curriculum to life in relevant and exciting ways. The lesson plans that Ancestry has created target a number of core subjects, with educational topics ranging from the American Revolutionary War to the 1940 U.S. Federal Census. They have been written by teachers according to the History Standards administered by the National Center for History in the Schools at the University of California, Los Angeles under the guidance of the National Council for History Standards. 

Primary Sources (Getting Started and Using the Library of Congress) – A wonderful resource from the Library of Congress! The Library of Congress offers classroom materials and professional development to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library’s vast digital collections in their teaching.

National Archives and Records Administration – Primary source documents and information for the United States.

Primary Sources by State (Library of Congress) – Primary source resources organized by state that are at the Library of Congress.

Read Like a Historian – The Reading Like a Historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry. Each lesson revolves around a central historical question and features a set of primary documents designed for groups of students with a range of reading skills. This curriculum teaches students how to investigate historical questions by employing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading. Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of multiple perspectives on historical issues and learn to make historical claims backed by documentary evidence.

Historical Maps / Speeches:

Civil War – Website related to the Ken Burns film, including maps, biographies, historical documents, images, discussion questions, and lesson plans.

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection – A collection of more than 8,800 online historic maps from the 18th and 19th century.

Early Washington Maps: A Digital Collection – Historical maps of Washington state.

Historic Speech Archives – Playable – Audio files of various historic speeches (including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Franklin D. Roosevelt, and others).

Historical Maps – Historical maps of Washington, searchable by time period or type of map.

Mapping the Pacific Coast – Historic Map Collection – Maps of the Pacific Coast from the earliest period of European Exploration, including 45 maps, books, and illustrations organized into 6 thematic galleries.

Martin Luther King Jr. – Speeches by Martin Luther King Jr., including sound clips and full text.

Rare Maps of Colonial America – A listing of rare maps of Colonial America.

General resources:

19th Century Schoolhouse – A collection of 19th century textbooks and resources.

25 Incredible Photos from History – Very interesting photos with captions.

Africans in America – The history of slavery in America, including background readings about key people and events, historical documents, a teacher’s guide, a youth activity guide, and more.

America’s Historical Documents – Online copies of our historical documents, including teaching documents, and Charters of Freedom.

American Artifacts – Scientific, medical and mechanical antiques and descriptions.

American Civil War Homepage – An extensive listing of Civil War links, including images, documentary records, rosters, and regimental histories.

American Experience: Citizen King – Information about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through eyewitness accounts, personal recollections, diaries, letters, maps, and more.

American Folklife Center Online Collections and Presentations – Includes audio samples of music and stories, digital images of rare letters and photographs, and video clips.

American Presidency Project – Over 75,000 documents related to the study of the presidency, including election data, speeches, video clips, search options, and more.

America’s Library – Limited scope, but good info, including music from various eras, state info and American profiles.

ARC Calendar: Heritage Months, Holidays, and Awareness Days – Primary source materials (including sound clips) organized by month in a calendar. 

ARC Guide for Educators and Students – The guide introduces educators and students to the National Archives’ Archival Research Catalog (ARC) and how to use it.

Authentic History Center – Historical artifacts, sounds, written letters, and diaries.

Biography of America – Video series about America, but has links to primary and secondary source references on the material shown.

Calisphere – A World of Digital Resources – Lessons and primary sources related to various topics, including the Gold Rush, World War II, and the Japanese American Internment.

Children of the Camps: the Japanese American WWII internment camp experience – This documentary captures the experiences of 6 Japanese-Americans who were confined in the internment camps as children. Includes historical documents, a timeline, a viewer’s guide, and more.

Civil War – Website related to the Ken Burns film, including maps, biographies, historical documents, images, discussion questions, and lesson plans.

Digital Collections – Historical photographs and information on the skills needed to analyze a photograph.

DPLA’s Primary Source sets – DPLA Primary Source Sets are designed to help students develop their critical thinking skills by exploring topics in history, literature, and culture through primary sources. Each set includes an overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide. Designed for teachers grades 6-12 and higher education.

From Revolution to Reconstruction: Documents – Documents from pre-1400 to the present, including full-text (Magna Charta, Articles of Confederation, Abraham Lincoln’s last speech, etc.).

George Washington – Unit from the Library of Congress about George Washington, including information about his life, rise to power, and accomplishments. Includes primary source documents.

Harper’s Weekly – A historical newspaper (1857-1912) whose articles have been put online.

HyperWar: World War II on the World Wide Web – Resources and documents, including policies, papers, treaties, the Pacific and European Theater of Operations, etc. of World War II.

Jamestown, Quebec, Santa Fe: Three North American Beginnings – A closer look at some of the Native and European artifacts that have survived from all three North American settlements – founded within a 3-year time period.

Japanese Relocation and Internment – Primary source documents and resources related to the Japanese American internment and relocations.

Jones Photo Historical Collection – Nearly 9,000 photographs of western Washington work and family life.

Library of Congress Education Resources… especially for teachers – Over 7 million historical documents, photographs, maps, films, and audio recordings. Includes lessons, features, activities, and tips and tricks for using these collections in the classroom.

Living Room Candidate – TV campaign ads from 1952 to the present – searchable by year, type of commercial, and political issue. Ads include background along with links to other spots related by subject, year, or candidate.

Looking Into Holidays Past Through Primary Sources – Help students analyze primary sources they see, hear, or read, using seasonal holiday-themed resources from the Library of Congress.

Martin Luther King Jr. – Photo gallery from events involving Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. – Speeches by Martin Luther King Jr., including sound clips and full text.

Mary McLeod Bethune Council House – Resource for “Teaching with historic places”. Visual images, classroom activities, and discussion questions.

Mayflower Compact – A copy of the text from the Mayflower Compact.

Mr. Lincoln’s Virtual Library – Links to information on Abraham Lincoln (including private papers) and the Civil War.

National Register of Historic Places – Travel Itineraries – Historic guides to destinations around the country. Each itinerary highlights different geographic regions or important themes in American history.

Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History – This site provides information, photos and other resources related to Washington State History.

Our Documents – 100 milestone documents of American history.

Pamphlet and Textual Ephemera Collection – Washington state theater, tourism, and urban development pamphlets, books, and theater programs, including the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909.

Parliament and the British Slave Trade 1600-1807 – Six sections that explore some of the issues around the act that abolished the British slave trade.

Primary Source Learning – Inviting Learners to Read, Think, and Use their Knowledge – Primary source materials, activities, and teaching ideas and lesson plans related to using primary resources.

Seattle Municipal Archives – Lots of digital documents and other resources from the City of Seattle.

Slavery and the Making of America – The history of American Slavery, including background information, primary sources, an interactive timeline, lesson plans, and a virtual museum featuring student projects.

Smithsonian Education – Educators – From the Smithsonian Institution, this site includes grade level lesson plans, a resource finder for primary resources, and reasons/connections for various images and artwork.

Star-Spangled Banner – Ideas and materials related to the Star-Spangled Banner, including the War of 1812, the poem that became the song, conservation, the people involved, and the symbolism of the American flag.

Teaching With Historic Places – Features places relevant in the past and in the current time (i.e. Heritage months). Includes lesson plans for teaching about the sites included.

Telling America’s Story – – Current information on elections, American life/culture, videos, multimedia, and more.

US Census Bureau – Facts for Features & Special Editions – Collections of statistics from the Census Bureau’s demographic and economic subject areas to commemorate anniversaries or observances or background information for topics in the news.

US Census Bureau – Tip Sheets – Information on upcoming releases and reports for the Facts for Features section.

War – The story of World War II though the accounts of American men and women who participated, including an extensive collection of primary sources, interviews and articles, and lesson plans.

Washington History – Historical records, newspapers, and other Washington State history resources.

We Shall Overcome: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement – Maps, lists of important sites, and more about the Civil Rights Movement.

Wise Guide – An online monthly newsletter with links to primary source materials from the Library of Congress.

World War II : Documents – Information and documents from World War II.

WWII Resources – Primary source documents and information about World War II.