Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln: A Primary Source Set Honoring Three Presidents

George Washington and his Family

This post is co-authored by Cheryl Lederle and Danna Bell-Russel.

President’s Day? Presidents Day? Or Presidents’ Day?

Officially, it’s none of the above. By law, February 22 is called George Washington’s Birthday, but many now use the day to honor or commemorate all U.S. presidents. One easy way to help your students explore the legacy of three great presidents is by using a primary source set from the Library of Congress, Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln: Three Great Presidents.

Thomas Jefferson

As most readers of this blog know, primary source sets provide access to a collection of primary source items that are easy to download and print. They also include a teacher’s guide with background information and suggestions on ways to help teachers use these resources to encourage engagement and critical thinking and content understanding. This particular primary source set includes items suitable for teaching younger students.

In addition to the “Suggestions for Teachers” included with the primary source set, you could ask students to:

Abraham Lincoln and his Family

  • Use the analysis tool to guide a closer look at one of the portraits. What do they think was the purpose of the portrait? What point of view was the painter trying to portray?
  • Compare images of presidents from the past and present to see how presidents have been depicted in history and how that has changed over time.
  • Create a description of what it means to look like or to be a leader.  Do the images within the collection of portraits or in the primary source set show the presidents looking like a leader? Why or why not?

Looking for other images of presidents? Library experts have assembled a collection of presidential portraits that teachers can use to supplement the images in the Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln Primary Source Set.

What activities will you and your students do to study the lives of America’s presidents?

Introducing Walter Dean Myers – National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

The Library appoints each Ambassador for a two-year term to travel around the country the importance of fiction and nonfiction in the lives of young people. Dr. Billington stated that the ambassador will be an award-winning author or illustrator whose position will acknowledge—at the national level—the importance of exceptional authors and illustrators in creating the readers of tomorrow.

Share, Save or Connect with the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is working to make it easier for you to keep up with what’s new at the Library and to share your favorites with others. At the top of many pages of the Library’s Web site is a toolbar allowing you to share links through sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, or to email, print or save the file. Look for the icons labeled Print, Subscribe or Share/Save.