Thursday, February 12, 2009

Web Resource: Primary Sources at The Library of Congress

Primary sources were once the province of learned historians with access to dusty archives. Younger students of history -and those who would teach them- had no such access and had to make do with secondary accounts in textbook and on film.

The internet has changed this. An ever-growing treasure-trove of primary documents is available online. Perhaps the best collection can be found at the Library of Congress's Digital Collections and Programs site.

It would be hard to overstate the vastness of this collection. Students can view the contents of Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination, watch 341 of the very first motion picture recordings by Thomas Edison, and read Walt Whitman's handwritten notebooks page-by-page.

The Teaching With Primary Sources Program from The Library Of Congress is a great resource for teachers who would like to put primary sources to use in their classrooms. One teacher highlighted on the site says that her students are "mesmerized" by audio recordings of slave narratives, for example.

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