June in History with the Library of Congress

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.

Yosemite Valley from Artists' Point, California. William Henry Jackson, 1898.

Yosemite Valley from Artists’ Point, California. William Henry Jackson, 1898.

June highlights include the life of Henry Clay, “the Great Compromiser” (introductory; advanced) and the signing of the Yosemite Land Grant (introductory; advanced), as well as milestones related to:

The Arts

  • June 5, 1851: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin appeared in serial form in the Washington National Era (introductory; advanced),
  • June 8, 1867: Architect Frank Lloyd Wright was born   (introductory; advanced);


  • June 11, 1927: The first Distinguished Flying Cross award was presented to Charles Lindbergh (introductory; advanced);

The Built Environment

Grand birds eye view of the Great East River Suspension Bridge. Connecting the cities of New York & Brooklyn showing also the splendid panorama of the bay and part of New York. Currier and Ives, 1885.

Grand birds eye view of the Great East River Suspension Bridge. Connecting the cities of New York & Brooklyn showing also the splendid panorama of the bay and part of New York. Currier and Ives, 1885.

  • June 12, 1806: John A. Roebling, civil engineer and designer of the Brooklyn Bridge was born (introductory; advanced);

The Space Age

  • June 24, 1961: Vice President Lyndon Johnson was tasked with unifying the United States satellite programs (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!

Civil War Photography: New Technologies and New Uses, a Teacher Primary Source Set from the Library of Congress

Can you imagine a photograph made of metal? A picture book made with egg whites? A wood-and-glass device that lets you see 3-D images? In the 1850s and 1860s, these were all cutting-edge photographic technologies. The Library’s newest primary source set, “Civil War Photography: New Technologies and New Uses,” immerses students in the new methods and formats that emerged in the decades around the war.

The K-12 Web Archiving Program: Preserving the Web from a Youthful Point of View

If you believe the Web (and who doesn’t believe everything they read on the Web?), it boastfully celebrated its 25th birthday last year. Twenty-five years is long enough for the first “children of the Web” to be fully-grown adults, just now coming of age to recognize that the Web that grew up around them has irrevocably changed.

Analyzing Persuasive Techniques in Historical Media Messages: Child Labor

Before 1938, child labor was a controversial topic, as arguments raged over the benefits and harms of children working in factories, on farms, and in the streets as news and delivery boys. Persuasive messages filled the media, asking the American people and legislators to protect children by requiring education and limiting working hours.

Celebrating Mothers with Primary Sources

In the United States, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May, this year, May 10th. But it is not just a day to celebrate our mothers, but also a time to think about all women who care for, support, and strengthen us. Below are a few suggestions for engaging students with primary sources related to Mother’s Day from the collections of the Library of Congress.

Teacher Webinar May 7: English Learners, the Common Core and Primary Sources

How can time-strapped teachers find and use free resources from the online collections of the Library of Congress to support the needs of diverse learners? Join us in a webinar on Thursday, May 7, at 4 PM ET, to learn strategies “to engage students in the analysis of evidence (Common Core), increase comprehensible input (diverse learners), and promote content learning and student engagement.”