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Leaving Evidence of Our Lives

Most people produce a variety of primary sources daily. Participants will consider what primary sources they have left behind over the previous 24 hours, and how such items may be interpreted in the future.

Lincoln’s Pockets

The things we carry around with us give clues about who we are. Participants will examine the items that were in Lincoln’s pockets on the night of his assassination and discuss what might be learned from studying them.

Analyzing Photographs

After participating in a model photograph analysis, participants independently practice analyzing a photograph. The group will discuss ways to use photograph analysis in instruction.

Analyzing Sheet Music

After participating in a model analysis, participants will independently analyze printed music and discuss ways to incorporate printed music analysis into instruction.

Analyzing Maps

After participating in a model map analysis, participants independently practice analyzing a map. Finally, they will discuss ways to incorporate map analysis into instruction.

Analyzing Political Cartoons

Participants will analyze a political cartoon, discuss ways to incorporate political cartoons into instruction, and review additional classroom resources available online.

Connecting with Primary Sources

Participants select a primary source, study it and find other participant(s) with a related item. The pairs/groups discuss and report how items relate. Activity makes an excellent icebreaker.

Music as Historical Artifacts

Music can provide a deeper understanding of an era’s events. Participants will explore several pieces and discuss integrating music into curriculum.

Perception Through Photography

How does the perception of a photographer influence the composition of image? Participants will explore this question through the analysis of photographs.

Book Backdrops

Participants will be able to connect primary sources to literature through the exploration of a children’s book on Lincoln.

Overview to www.loc.gov

After exploring the main components of www.loc.gov, participants will learn how to begin a search for primary sources in the American Memory collections, and then look closely at materials designed for teachers and students.

Exploring American Treasures

After exploring the main components of www.loc.gov, participants will learn how to begin a search for primary sources in the American Memory collections, and then look closely at materials designed for teachers and students.

Understanding Copyright

Participants will practice finding copyright information for the Library’s digitized materials and learn where to find guidelines on fair use for educational purposes.

Understanding the Inquiry Process

Participants will work in groups to define the inquiry process. The facilitator will lead a discussion on the Stripling Model of Inquiry. After reading an article, participants will reflect on incorporating inquiry into their instructional setting.

Primary Sources and Inquiry

After participating in a model inquiry activity using a primary source, participants independently practice documenting their own inquiry learning while using primary sources. The group will discuss ways to create inquiry activities with primary sources.


  • Select from 15 modular activities to create and deliver your own Library of Congress professional development.
  • All materials you need to deliver are included.
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  • Deliver standards-based Teaching with Primary Sources professional development to educators.

Select Your Professional Development Activities

Primary Sources Overview

Understanding Primary Sources

Leaving Evidence of Our Lives 45 mins
Lincoln's Pockets 60 mins

Analyzing Primary Sources

Analyzing Photographs 90 mins
Analyzing Sheet Music 90 mins
Analyzing Maps 90 mins
Analyzing Political Cartoons 90 mins

Teaching with Primary Sources

Connecting with Primary Sources 45 mins
Music as Historical Artifacts 90 mins
Perception Through Photography 60 mins
Book Backdrops 180 mins

Primary Sources from the Library of Congress

Exploring www.loc.gov

Overview to www.loc.gov 90 mins
Exploring American Treasures 60 mins

Understanding Legal and Ethical Use of Digital Resources

Understanding Copyright 60 mins

Inquiry Learning and Primary Sources

Understanding the Inquiry Process

Understanding the Inquiry Process 45 mins

Creating Inquiry Activities with Primary Sources

Primary Sources and Inquiry 120 mins

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