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New Library of Congress Primary Source Set for Teachers: The Spanish-American War

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“Explosion of the Maine” ca. 1898

A battleship explodes in Havana harbor—and across the pages of American newspapers.

Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders stage a heroic charge—against a movie camera.

The United States declares war to protect U.S. citizens in Cuba— and finds itself fighting around the globe.

A new primary source set from the Library of Congress, “The Spanish-American War: The United States Becomes a World Power,” brings teachers the artifacts and documents that tell these stories and more.

This primary source set presents rich historical artifacts from the Library’s collections in an easy-to-use format for students, including photographs, maps, songs, political cartoons, and pages from historic American newspapers.

“The big type war of the yellow kids” by Leon Barritt

Plus, historical background information and teaching ideas give teachers the resources they need to help students engage with and analyze these primary sources to build their critical thinking skills. This set is a perfect opportunity to explore the Library’s easy-to-use Primary Source Analysis Tool.

Common Core teachers: This set is a mother lode of informational text. Much of the Spanish-American War was fought in the press, and this set is rich with newspaper articles and government documents that make the case for—and sometimes against—the war. The Library’s teaching suggestions provide easy ways to guide students as they evaluate arguments, find supporting evidence, compare primary sources, and explore point of view.

The Spanish-American War may not have lasted long, but it brought with it major changes, including some unexpected ones, that helped shape the world we know today. As you explore “The Spanish-American War: The United States Becomes a World Power” with your students, let us know what insights they share with you.

Comments (3)

  1. Does the Library of Congress have any non-American focused primary sources (i.e. photographs of Manila Bay, Spain’s response to war…)

    • Hi Tara! Thanks for the question.

      The Library’s online collections do include primary sources that focus on non-U.S. locations in that war. A search of produces quite a few results, and you can then refine them using the “Location” facet in the left-hand column.

      This collection of primary sources on Puerto Rico in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also might have some useful items.

      Let us know if you find any primary sources that you’d like to share!

  2. These images are so much better than the standard fuzzy newspaper front page headlines. Its great to have a resource for history standards that I had difficulty finding sources for in the past.

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