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November in History with the Library of Congress

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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.

Welcome Home Boys, 1919
Welcome Home Boys, 1919

November highlights include the exploring the origins of Veterans Day (introductory; advanced), the establishment of four Standard Time Zones for the continental U.S. (introductory; advanced), and the opening of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress (introductory; advanced) as well as milestones related to:

The Civil War

  • November 6, 1861:  Voters loyal to the Confederate States elected Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederate States of America (introductory; advanced),
  • November 10, 1865:  Henry Wirz, former commander of the Confederate prison at Andersonville, GA was hanged (introductory; advanced),
  • November 19, 1863: Abraham Lincoln delivered a brief speech at the dedication of the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (introductory; advanced);


  • November 15, 1777:  The Articles of Confederation were formally adopted by the Continental Congress  (introductory; advanced);
Benjamin Banneker's Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia Almanack and Ephemeris, for the Year of Our Lord 1792.
Benjamin Banneker’s Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia Almanack and Ephemeris, for the Year of Our Lord 1792.


  • November 9, 1731:  Mathematician and astronomer Benjamin Banneker was born (introductory; advanced);

The Arts

  • November 8, 1906:  “The Skyscrapers of New York” was filmed by cameraman Fred A. Dobson (introductory; advanced),
  • November 14, 1900:  Composer and conductor Aaron Copland was born (introductory; advanced),
  • November 26, 1942:  The movie “Casablanca” premiered in New York (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!

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