By Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University
Primary sources are artifacts, documents, letters, autobiographies, photographs, recordings, video footage or any other source created during the time period one is studying. With the rapid advancement of technology, primary sources that were often difficult to access by researchers (Often due to issues such travel or financial restrictions, or perhaps not having proper authorization) are now being digitized and made available online. Primary sources can not only be used in historical research, but can also be a tremendous resource for the study of civic responsibilities.
In this entry we will highlight some interactive projects designed to teach civics and citizenship, supported by grants from the Library of Congress. The resources can also be accessed via this site. The projects are intended to provide students with opportunities and resources to learn about civic participation utilizing primary sources from the Library of Congress’ online collections. Please click on the links below to explore the various interactive sites designed to teach history and civics using primary sources.
This resource was developed by iCivics and teaches history and civics through the use of primary source documents and evidence-based learning. The resources can be accessed with mobile devices, making it more accessible for students. The site teaches the importance of reasoning based on evidence and valid sources. The exercises and lessons teaches students how to identify, evaluate and critique evidence, contextualize information, so that they may as a result write sound supporting arguments.
This site is a customizable system using primary sources for inquiry-based learning. Students at all levels (Elementary through Secondary) can use primary sources from the Library of Congress can challenge a question, collect evidence, and make a case guided by Casemaker.
Eagle Eye Citizen
This is a great resource that challenges middle and high school students by leading them in solving and creating interactive challenges on American history, civics, and government. This site also utilizes Library of Congress primary sources to help students develop civic understanding and historical thinking skills.
Engaging Congress is a series of game-based learning activities that explores the basic tenets of representative government and the challenges that it faces in contemporary society. Primary source documents are used to examine the history and evolution of issues that confront Congress today.
The site introduces a new way for elementary students to engage with history through primary sources. There are nine interactive episodes that children can explore, focusing on civics and government concepts by investigating primary source photographs from the Library of Congress. Students can also connect what they find on the site with their daily lives. Teachers can also use KidCitizen cloud software tools to create their own episodes and share them with students.