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Incorporating primary source analysis into your history studies is easier than ever these days due to a number of free sites with ready-made lessons and activities. Here are several for American history:

Write an Essay: At Zoom in, individual lessons guide learners in the study of different types of primary sources, such as speeches, letters, political cartoons, oral histories, audio recordings, and photographs. After weighing the evidence and different perspectives, students write an explanatory or argumentative essay. (One example: the benefits and disadvantages for young women working in America‚Äôs first factories). The lessons cover all the major eras of U.S. history.

Another site that presents conflicting accounts for debate, and prompts learners to respond with an essay, is Historical Thinking Matters.

Investigate a Historical Scene: Explore various case files to draw conclusions about historical events. What caused the Jamestown colony to fail? Who was responsible for the Boston Massacre? What was it like for children living during the Civil War? Through these and other investigations at Historical Scene Investigationstudents become history detectives by analyzing evidence, searching for clues, and finally cracking the case.

 

Solve a History Mystery: At The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, explore the wars Americans have fought through primary sources.  

Use Guided Analysis Worksheets: These worksheets, developed by the Education Staff of the National Archives and Records Administration, provide questions for examining: 

Visit the Library of Congress site for addtional primary source study guides.

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