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Finding Triumph and Tragedy in Library of Congress Primary Sources

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Winners of the 2017 Ridgway Prize for Discovery or Exploration with Lee Ann Potter of the Library of Congress. This prize is one of many given each year at the national contest. 

Are your students beginning their research for the National History Day contest? Many of the millions of Library of Congress digitized primary sources highlight events that led to triumph or tragedy. Here are a few examples:

  • The 100th anniversary of ratification of the 19th amendment will be in 2020, and the Library has many collections that document the women’s suffrage movement. To narrow your focus, consider the work of noted African American women such as Mary Church Terrell and Sojourner Truth to ensure that the suffrage movement included all women.
  • Explore the triumph of invention by studying the work of Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel Morse or the Wright Brothers.
  • Examine the actions of the Six Nations during the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars and government policy toward Native Americans during the development of the United States.
  • The tragedies called by illnesses such as Yellow Fever and the Spanish flu and the triumphs of finding cures and treatments might appeal to students interested in the history of science.
  • Oral histories from the Veterans History Project can provide a personal perspective of the tragedies and triumphs of war.

Need more guidance in learning navigating the Library’s online resources?


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