Students analyze a primary source in the Library of Congress

Welcome to Teaching with the Library of Congress!

The Library of Congress means many different things to many people. But for teachers and students it represents a source of discovery and learning unlike any other.

The Library has the world’s largest online collection of primary sources—the raw materials of history. More than 20 million photographs, maps, manuscripts, movies, newspaper articles, books, and sound recordings are available for free, with no subscription, from the Library’s Web site, loc.gov.

Analyzing these primary sources is a powerful way to engage students, and helps them build their critical thinking skills and construct knowledge.

To unlock that power, the Library offers teachers a wide range of resources, from classroom materials to professional development opportunities. These all can be found at the Library’s site for Teachers, loc.gov/teachers loc.gov/programs/teachers.

But we at the Library know that the most innovative ideas usually emerge through conversations with educators. Teaching with the Library of Congress will be one space for that conversation to take place.

This will be a place where Library staff can informally present teaching strategies, highlights from the collections, and the latest on new programs and teaching resources. At the same time, we hope it will be a forum where teachers share experiences, exchange ideas, provide feedback on what the Library has to offer, and take the conversation on teaching with primary sources into new territory.

Whether you’re an expert at working with the Library’s primary sources or you’re just discovering them for the first time, your voice is needed here.

So let’s begin the discussion: What experiences have you had with the Library’s primary sources, and what would you like to see us explore in this space in the future?


  1. Janice Haney
    June 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    I have attended several of the LOC one day teacher institutes and afterward have used the digital resources for research units in my elementary library. I highly recommend these workshops.

    I would like to see science topics covered in your digital collections. Social studies is well represented.

  2. Andrea Hasslinger
    June 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I use lots of sources from the LOC during the year as I teach U.S. history. At the end of one of my first units, after the test, I have students choose from a variety of political cartoons and images that reflect social, political, and economic aspects of the era. Students write their own captions and are amazed at how smart they feel when they see that they understand so much ‘old stuff.’ I use the LOC throughout the year to help students gain a deeper understanding of lots of topics. Of course it is very helpful when we are working on our national history day projects.

  3. Bonnie914
    June 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I have used teacher resources for a number of years, but a major change for me was taking a Library of Congress online workshop through the Teaching American History grant in my school district. I immediately found so many more uses and loved the analysis sheet (in the past I’ve used the National Archives analysis sheets). I find yours much more user friendly and it promotes reflection which helps students with the analysis. I immediately signed up for emails and learned about a one-day teacher workshop based on the exhibit “The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs from the Liljenquist Family Collection.” The workshop was an incredible experience and I was able to use what I learned immediately in my classroom. The photographs and the maps were a great classroom experience.
    One of my concerns is my inability to pull up the site from my school. When I contacted our technology specialist, I was told that the site was busy. Any suggestions for how to use the site for student research if the site is unavailable would be helpful.

  4. Neva Reece
    June 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Thank you for all the work you do to make primary sources accessible more accessible. We just finished a class in Anchorage on LoC online resources. I think all of the participants grew in their appreciation of what the LoC has to offer. And I want to add a ‘shout out’ to the librarians who communicated with us via live chat to answer some of our more pressing questions! We added the conversations to our wiki page as a resource for the class.

    • Stephen Wesson
      June 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      Neva, your comment gives me the opportunity to second that shout out: The librarians who offer support via e-mail and live chat are among the Library’s most valuable resources.

      To get in touch with them, take your specific questions to the Library’s Ask a Librarian page.

  5. Kathy Roberts
    June 1, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I have been using the resources of the LoC (although not consistently) for many years and I have also attended the Summer Institute. Thank you for providing this Blog so that we can interact with one another.

    Could you, eventually create several categories or off shoot blogs, from this main blog, focusing on specific topics (say on interpreting political cartoons or analyzing music lyrics to determine the political atmosphere of a time period or region)? The resources of the LoC are so vast that it might be advantageous to break conversation or learning into smaller categories. Then, perhaps, experts from the LoC could facilitator or manage their particular blog on which the topics are their area of expertise. Just a thought for the future (although several online mini-courses would even be better)!

  6. Elizabeth Shotwell
    June 1, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Fantastic resource! As a cyber school/online educator, I use the LOC sources EXTENSIVELY! My students LOVE them.

    I am currently writing a course on the 1960s and am using LOC for a starting point in regards to leading up the tumultuous 60s. I also use the site in ALL of my courses as an intro to using sources and teaching how to cite sources.

    This is a great resource!

  7. Rosemary in Charlotte
    June 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    One poster mentioned separate blogs by topics, and I’d like to suggest a look at Larry Ferlazzo’s blog. He’s a teacher of English to English Language Learners. I have no idea if the man ever sleeps, but I like the way his blog is organized. http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/larry-ferlazzos-english-website/
    If there’s a “team” of people doing this blog, I think it would work. The value to me is in reading what others in other disciplines are saying and doing – just like a library with everything in one place!

  8. LSnow
    June 1, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    I attended the week long Summer Institute last year and learned so much! What an experience! I am in a K-7 school and am currently using the resources with 6th and 7th grades and hope to work in some lessons with 4th and 5th next school year. I am hoping to use music for all four grade levels – maybe Revolutionary War, Civil War, Westward Expansion eras. Anyone have any suggestions?

  9. Kathy Roberts
    June 2, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Bonnie said, “…a major change for me was taking a Library of Congress online workshop through the Teaching American History grant in my school district. I immediately found so many more uses.” I think that should be a focus–availability of online workshops. That way teachers can be guided through using the LoC resources and also create an end product that they can share and also use in the classroom.

    • Stephen Wesson
      June 2, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      To reply to Kathy Roberts: Good news about online professional development from the Library!

      The Library of Congress has collaborated with PBS Teacherline to develop a 45-hour online course which reaches the same goals and objectives as our 45-hour Summer Teacher Institutes. More information on the online course can be found here.

      Additionally, the Library provides for free, all of its professional development materials through its PD Plan Builder and delivers six self-paced online modules worth one-hour units.

  10. Courtney K
    June 2, 2011 at 9:11 am

    The Library never ceases to amaze me! What a great idea to have a blog, people will hopefully feel comfortable with the informal atmosphere to discuss issues that will benefit all of us.
    When I was teaching I struggled with the digital divide issue – a lot of my students don’t have computers at home and can barely turn one on at school! Others could prob. hack into the mainframe in 30 seconds (;
    Any tips on how to bridge the gap?

  11. Winifred morgan
    June 3, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I used your baseball resources with my 5-8th graders. They were fascinated! I know they enjoyed comparing the new to the old. I think they changes they noted truly demonstrated the evolution of a sport.

  12. Tracie Lofgren
    July 23, 2012 at 5:38 am

    This really is actually useful, appreciate your posting

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