Many teachers like to include mini-lessons or bell-ringers about “this day in history.” The Library of Congress offers two resources that recount what happened on a particular day using the Library’s collections of digitized primary sources: Jump Back in Time (introductory) and Today in History (advanced). Choose the one that best matches your students’ reading levels to build both content knowledge and research skills with primary sources in context.
The Built Environment
- June 19, 1885: The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor from France (introductory; advanced),
- June 26, 1870: The first section of the Atlantic City Boardwalk opened along the New Jersey beach (introductory; advanced);
- June 7, 1769: The great frontiersman Daniel Boone first saw the forests and woodlands of present-day Kentucky (introductory; advanced),
- June 9, 1534: French navigator Jacques Cartier sailed into the mouth of the St. Lawrence River for the first time (introductory; advanced);
- June 2, 1924: Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act, granting U.S. citizenship to all Native Americans (introductory; advanced),
- June 4, 1919: Congress, by joint resolution, approved the woman’s suffrage amendment (introductory; advanced);
- June 25, 1876: George Armstrong Custer and the 265 men of his militia lost their lives at the Battle of Little Big Horn, also known as ‘Custer’s Last Stand’ (introductory; advanced);
- June 17, 1871: Poet, diplomat, songwriter and anthologist of black culture James Weldon Johnson was born in Jacksonville, Florida. (introductory; advanced),
- June 27, 1872: The writer Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio. (introductory; advanced);
- June 3, 1880: Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first wireless telephone message on his newly-invented photophone (introductory; advanced).
To engage your students immediately, distribute or display one primary source from an entry and invite them to jot down a single detail they notice and then share. To draw your students deeper into analyzing the primary sources, ask them to record observations, reflections and questions on the Library’s primary source analysis tool. Anne Savage offers tips in the Blog Round-Up: Using the Primary Source Analysis Tool.
Students can also:
- Compare a secondary source account, such as a textbook explanation, to a primary source account. What can be learned from each? What cannot be learned from each? What questions do students have?
- Consider how a series of primary sources support or challenge information and understanding on a particular topic. Ask students to refine or revise conclusions based on their study of each subsequent primary source.
- Use the list of additional resources at the end of each Today in History entry to search for additional primary sources.
Some of our favorite ideas for using these resources came in the comments reacting to Primary Sources Every Day from the Library of Congress. Let us know how you use them!