August in History with the Library of Congress

This post comes courtesy of Uhuru Flemming of the Library of Congress.

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.

August highlights include the American Broadcasting Company’s airing of Saturday morning television shows for children (introductory; advanced) and the Panic of 1857 (introductory; advanced), as well as milestones related to:

Military History


  • August 6, 1890:  Baseball great Cy Young pitched his first professional game (introductory; advanced);

Women’s History Firsts

  • August 5, 1858:  Julia Archibald Holmes became the first woman to reach Pike’s Peak (introductory; advanced),
  • August 15, 1860:  Florence Kling Harding, the first American woman allowed to vote for her husband for president, was born (introductory; advanced);


  • August 18, 1774:  Explorer Meriwether Lewis was born near Charlottesville, VA (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!

Five Questions with Chronicling America Digital Conversion Specialist Tonijala Penn

One of the most popular resources on the Library of Congress website is Chronicling America. A collaboration with the National Endowment for the Humanities, Chronicling America provides digital access to newspapers published in the United States of America between 1836-1922. Meet one of the people responsible for making this collection available online, Tonijala Penn.