New and Upcoming from the Library: Resources and Opportunities for Teachers

To begin the second half of the school year, Teaching with the Library of Congress highlights recent Library of Congress initiatives and selected blog posts that might spur some classroom activities or lesson plan ideas.

Know the world you live in Free informal study groups : Workers education project. Federal Arts Project

  • The Library’s crowdsourcing project By the People, which launched in 2018, gained momentum in 2019. Volunteers have transcribed more than 2,000 pages from Library collections including the papers of Clara Barton, Abraham Lincoln, Carrie Chapman Catt, Mary Church Terrell, and Susan B. Anthony, and more than 8,000 pages have been added to various collections. This year, By the People needs volunteers to help transcribe the papers of Alan Lomax as part of his 105th birthday commemoration. You can explore suggestions on how to bring By the People into your classroom on the website. Scoop: Watch for a new campaign on Rosa Parks in early February.
  • Many amazing guest writers contributed posts to Teaching with the Library of Congress in 2019. Teachers in Residence Carolyn Bennett and Jen Reidel and Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellows Kellie Taylor and Amara Alexander shared their knowledge and experience. In addition to these skilled teachers, Junior Fellow Amanda Campbell spent the summer studying the suffrage movement and wrote about some fascinating primary resources. Take a peek at their blog posts for links to primary sources and teaching ideas. We also posted items from guest bloggers, many reposted from other Library of Congress blogs. Some of this year’s reposted blogs featured information on what to do when you reach a “historical dead end,” the lives of Civil War nurses, and items that entered the public domain in 2019.
  • The announcement about the digitization of some historical children’s books from the Library’s collections prompted questions about using these and other books from the collections that include subject matter students and teachers might find problematic. We responded with a post offering teaching suggestions.
  • The release of the Omar Ibn Said collection inspired students from two local high schools to create films about the collection and Said. In a blog and program, students shared their experiences and what they learned during the process.
  • The image and words of Sojourner Truth spurred a couple of posts. One featured newspaper articles documenting Truth giving her “Ain’t I a Woman Speech,” exploring how different newspapers covered the address. Later we republished a post from the Prints and Photograph Division’s Picture This blog that discussed the notion of “unfulfilled rights” and the role of minorities in the women’s suffrage movement.
  • In 2020, consider applying for one of the four summer teacher institutes. We are also continuing a series of posts revisiting some of the basic concepts of working with primary sources. See the first of the series here – and please do share your questions about or favorite approaches to working with primary sources!

We look forward to sharing more primary sources and teaching ideas with you in the next year.

Teaching Civic Ideals Using Primary Sources: The Origin and Evolution of the Bill of Rights

Many Americans take for granted the guarantees of the Bill of Rights. However, the story and order of the initially proposed twelve amendments submitted to states for ratification offer an interesting case study for students to analyze and discuss why certain rights were included as a protection against federal encroachment upon citizens’ freedom and how they apply to us today.

Teaching Civic Ideals Using Primary Sources: Federalism and the Origin of Federal Air Pollution Policy 

Environmental case studies such as Donora, Pennsylvania, offer students the opportunity to evaluate the system of federalism in context of a historical event. In addition, this event may stretch students’ understanding of when and why society began to focus on the impact of air pollution on the environment.