Top of page

February in History with the Library of Congress

Share this post:

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.

Grand Canyon, Colorado River, Looking West, 1872.
Grand Canyon, Colorado River, Looking West, 1872.

February highlights include the establishment of the Grand Canyon as a national park (introductory; advanced) and the first U.S. railway for freight and passengers (introductory; advanced), as well as milestones related to:


The States

  • February 2, 1848:  The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, extending the U.S. west to the Pacific Ocean (introductory; advanced),
  • February 24, 1863:  Arizona became a new territory (introductory; advanced);
San Xavier Mission, Tucson, Arizona, 1913
San Xavier Mission, Tucson, Arizona, 1913

Military History

  • February 18, 1865:  Charleston, South Carolina surrendered to the Union Army (introductory; advanced),
  • February 23, 1847:  U.S. General Zachary Taylor was victorious in the Battle of Buena Vista (introductory; advanced),
  • February 25, 1779:  British Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton surrendered at Ft. Sackville (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!

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.