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January 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

Battle Hymn of the Republic
Battle Hymn of the Republic

January highlights include the discovery of gold in California (introductory; advanced) and the life of Dizzy Gillespie (introductory; advanced), as well as milestones related to:

Women in the Arts

  • January 13, 1884: Entertainer Sophie Tucker was born (introductory; advanced),
  • January 16, 1964: Carol Channing debuted as Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello Dolly! on Broadway (introductory; advanced),
  • January 28,1908: Julia Ward Howe, author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (introductory; advanced);


  • January 18, 1919: Over a dozen diplomats met to discuss how to permanently end World War I (introductory; advanced);
Bust of Thomas Jefferson in the Great Hall of the LIbrary of Congress. Carol Highsmith, 2007
Bust of Thomas Jefferson in the Great Hall of the LIbrary of Congress. Carol Highsmith, 2007

The Library of Congress

  • January 30, 1815: President James Madison approved an act of Congress appropriating almost $24,000 to purchase Thomas Jefferson’s library (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!


Comments (2)

  1. When we to use primary source for education ,we can teach all users for recognized of importance and necessary sources for study and transfer all lost experience to future generations

  2. Thank you for all your efforts to make teachers more effective in the classroom. I write a blog titled “Cruisin’ the Internet” and I frequently post links to the Library of Congress for the help it gives classroom teachers.

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