This post was written by 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.
March highlights include the first march from Selma, Alabama known as “Bloody Sunday” (introductory; advanced) and the origins of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington (introductory; advanced), as well as milestones related to:
- March 17: St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by Irish and Irish-Americans in commemoration of the death of Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland (introductory; advanced),
- March 25, 1634: Maryland Day is celebrated to commemorate the arrival of the first colonists to the land King Charles I chartered to Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore (introductory; advanced);
- March 11, 1865: General William T. Sherman captured the town of Fayetteville, North Carolina (introductory; advanced),
- March 24, 1776: General George Washington wrote a letter to the Continental Congress a week after General William Howe evacuated Boston (introductory; advanced);
- March 8, 1884: Susan B. Anthony appeared before the House of Representatives to support the women’s suffrage amendment (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!