Many of us are working to preserve our natural resources. We recycle, compost, use public transportation or try to turn off lights in empty rooms. Though many may think this movement toward “being green” is a new trend, protecting the environment has been a part of United States history for many years. Primary sources from the Library’s collection can help students learn about the history of the environmental movement and the people who were its leaders.
Here are some activities that students can do to celebrate Earth Day and U.S.’s environmental heritage.
Students can review the materials in the collection “Mapping the National Parks” and learn more about four of nation’s parks. Have the students speculate why these areas were selected. Do they think they would be selected today?
In addition, students could show why an area of interest to them should be made a national park.
Have students look at the Seasonal Round of Activities presented in Tending the Commons. Also have them click on sections of the round to see images of the activities shown on the seasonal round. Students may also be interested in listening to the interviews with members of the community, reading the essays on ramps and ginseng, learning about the importance of preserving the environment and the way of life in this community. Why do they think that the people interviewed tied so many of their activities to the seasons?
Students can create posters similar to those found in the WPA Poster Collection. You can use the search term “natural resources” to locate many of these posters. As these posters were created during the Great Depression and World War II students can explore the reasons why the government felt it was important to focus on environmental issues.
One of the U.S.’s greatest environmental disasters was the drought that led to the Dust Bowl. Use the primary source set on the Dust Bowl to learn about the reasons for this disaster and the impact on farmers and their families. Do students think that there might be another Dust Bowl? If so, what can we do to stop it?
How will you use primary sources to discuss environmental issues and celebrate going green?