Using Primary Sources to Show Friendship Between Nations

This post features excerpts from the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center’s “Cherry Blossoms, Friendship and the National Archives.” 

First Lady Lady Bird Johnson Planting a Tree During the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival

First Lady Lady Bird Johnson Planting a Tree During the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival, Tidal Basin, Washington, DC, 4/6/1965. From the White House Photo Office Collection LBJ-WHPO. National Archives Identifier 5730832.

Last month, we centered several family activities around primary source documents in our “Friendship Between Nations” Cherry Blossom Festival Family Day at the National Archives.

The core ideas behind these museum-based learning experiences can be adapted for the classroom too:

Geography — A GeoFind Challenge gave visitors an opportunity to learn interesting facts related to gift giving between nations. Did you know that the King of Siam offered President Lincoln an elephant to help with farming but he graciously declined? While several participants already knew, others learned that the city of DC’s many cherry blossom trees were originally a gift from Japan. We met students from all over the world who enjoyed the geography, history and political connections tied to this mapping challenge.

Lincoln to the King of Siam

Page 2 of Lincoln’s Letter, available on DocsTeach. Click on the image for a larger version.

Your students can also learn about foreign affairs and diplomacy by discussing gifts to the United States and mapping the foreign governments from whom they came. Here are some primary sources to get you started:

Treaties — Especially meaningful was the amount of time that families took to work together to create a family treaty. Many took the task to heart as they learned that this type of agreement between two nations required conversation, cooperation and compromise. A wide variety of ideas were discussed. For example, younger family members agreed to clean up their rooms in exchange for time to play with a special toy. Teenagers agreed to balance their screen time with in person family time together. After using language from a treaty between the US and Japan and writing the document in special script, families worked together to bind them with a fabric cover.

French Exchange Copy of the Agreement to Pay France for the Louisiana Purchase

Agreement to Pay France for the Louisiana Purchase, available on DocsTeach.

You can adapt this exercise for classroom use and then introduce students to treaties such as:

You can read more about our Cherry Blossom Festival Family Day, including other family activities and our partnership with the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC), in a blog post written by the Center for Innovation in Early Learning’s director, Betsy Bowers, on the SEEC blog: “Cherry Blossoms, Friendship and the National Archives.”

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25th Anniversary New York City History Day!

Last month, over 400 students from across New York City participated in the 25th anniversary of New York City History Day.  This annual contest is hosted and organized by the Museum of the City of New York.

After months of researching their topics and crafting their performance, exhibit, documentary, website or essay, students in grades 6 through 12 shared their projects with the public.  This year’s theme was “Leadership and Legacy in History,” so topics included such diverse subjects as  Lucille Ball, George Balanchine, Frederick Douglass, and Baron Von Steuben.

Exhibit Boards

Junior and Senior Exhibit Boards on Display
Photo by Lissa River

Performance

Juliette Low and the Legacy of the Girl Scouts Performance
Photo by Lissa River

Throughout the fall and winter, hundreds of these students visited the National Archives to find out how to find and use primary sources in their NHD projects.  Many of these students did well on competition day.  Over 1/3 of the students that finished in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place attended a workshop at the National Archives.

This year was extra special because the National Archives Foundation, through the support of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, funded awards and giveaways for participants. First place winners in every category received $250.  A special category “Outstanding Use of Archival Sources” was created for both junior and senior divisions.  Winners in that category received $250 as well.  In addition, all competitors in NYC History Day received a t-shirt for their participation.

The next step for 1st and 2nd place winners is the New York State History Day competition in Cooperstown, NY at the end of this month.

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Awards Ceremony
Photo by Lissa River

For more photos of the competition and awards ceremony, visit the Museum of the City of New York’s Flickr Page. For more information about New York City History Day and for a list of all winners, visit MCNY’s New York City History Day page.

The National Archives’ History Day activities are made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation, through the support of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

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New DocsTeach Activity: Congress in Article I of the U.S. Constitution

In our newest activity on DocsTeach.org, students match primary source documents to clauses from Article I of the United States Constitution that detail six powers of Congress.

A rolled up "railroad bill" caricature, with top hat in hand and O.K. stamps from the House and Senate, rings the White House doorbell.

The railroad bill caricature, with top hat in hand and O.K. stamps from both the House and the Senate on his frock coat, rings the doorbell at the White House. “Anyone Home?,” 2/24/1920, From the Records of the U.S. Senate. National Archives Identifier 6011590.

The Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives created Congress in Article I of the United States Constitution to reinforce the idea of separation of powers between branches by highlighting six of the powers the Founders specifically granted to Congress.

We suggest using this lesson to introduce students in grades 5–8 to studying the text of the Constitution.  Students may complete this activity in pairs or small groups.  The activity can be found on our special DocsTeach page, Teaching with the Records of Congress, or directly here.

Congress in Article I activity

Students will begin the activity by analyzing each document for a possible link to Article I of the Constitution. They should match each document with one clause from Article I, identifying six pairs to reveal some of the characteristics and powers of Congress.

Once they have matched the pairs and clicked “I’m Done,” they will be prompted to reflect on the pairs they have identified and the rest of Article I.

A final class discussion will follow based on the question: What characteristics and powers of Congress justify its being referred to as the “people’s branch of government”?

You can follow up on this activity with the lesson Teaching Six Big Ideas in the Constitution from the Center for Legislative Archives.

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A Transcription Challenge

A tool in our new online catalog allows you to transcribe any of the millions of digitized primary sources in our holdings. This week in particular, we’ve set a goal to collectively transcribe 1,000 pages.Transcription Challenge promotional image

 

Transcription is just one part of our Citizen Archivist Dashboard — where we provide opportunities for the public to participate in projects that add value to our holdings and work at the National Archives. And citizen archivists can be any age, so students are welcome to participate!

Learn more about our Transcription Challenge and check out some of our Transcription Missions to get started:

And if you have that favorite document from the National Archives that you always share with students, but wish it was a little easier to read, this is the tool to make that happen!

  1. Create a username and password in the National Archives Catalog.
  2. Login from any transcription page or on the login page.
  3. Start a Transcription Mission, check out More Records, or create your own mission by doing a keyword search for your favorite topics.
  4. Select the “View/Add Contributions” button located below all images in the catalog.
  5. Select the “Transcribe” tab for the page of the record you would like to transcribe.
  6. Select the “Edit” button and remember to save your work frequently.

Check out this example transcription page — Harriet Tubman Davis’s widow’s pension file.

We’d love to hear what transcriptions you tackle!

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Segregation and a Controversial White House Tea Party: A Distance Learning Program

Registration is now open for two programs on March 13th: “Segregation and a Controversial Tea Party at the White House” at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. CST.

In 1929, First Lady Lou Hoover invited Jessie DePriest, wife of African American Congressmen Oscar DePriest, to a White House tea party. The political and social ramifications were intense — some letters even called for the lynching and impeachment of the First Lady. This program will discuss segregation and the political ramifications of the DePriest tea.

The program will draw from Herbert and Lou Hoover’s papers, letters from the public, oral history interviews, memoirs from White House staff, newspapers, and political cartoons. All primary source materials, summative assessments, and lesson plans are available upon request.

Portrait of Lou Henry Hoover, ca. 1929, photo-print by Berton Crandall Palo, Alto, California. Courtesy of the Hoover Library.

Portrait of Lou Henry Hoover, ca. 1929, photo-print by Berton Crandall Palo, Alto, California. Courtesy of the Hoover Library.

“Segregation and a Controversial Tea Party at the White House” is presented by the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and The White House Historical Association as part of the Presidential Primary Sources Project (PPSP).

The Presidential Primary Sources Project offers a series of free, 50-minute, interactive videoconferencing programs to students all over the world. PPSP is a collaboration between the National Park Service, U.S. Presidential Libraries and Museums, other cultural and historic organizations, and the Internet2 community.

Students will interact live with presidential historians at museums and Presidential Libraries and park rangers at our National Presidential Historic Sites to explore historical themes and events. This year’s PPSP theme is “Human and Civil Rights.” In addition to live interactive discussion, primary source documents will be used extensively during the presentations. Each program will also be live streamed (no registration required) and archived for on demand viewing.

You and your students can watch archived past programs, including “The Roosevelts and Race in the 1930s and 40s,” presented by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, and “President Truman and Civil Rights,” from the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.”

See the list of presentations by our Presidential Libraries on www.archives.gov/education/distance-learning and the full presentation schedule from PPSP.

You can learn more about PPSP at http://k20.internet2.edu/presidents or on the PPSP Facebook page.

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New JFK Challenge iPad App

Today’s post comes from Jamie Richardson in the Department of Education and Public Programs at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

The John F. Kennedy Challenge

Last month in celebration of Presidents’ Day, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum launched a free iPad app that brings American history to life for upper elementary through early middle school students. The Library’s first-ever app release, The JFK Challenge, turns players into NASA and Peace Corps trainees ready to accept President Kennedy’s charge to accomplish great things and make a difference in the world.

Combining exciting animation with primary sources from the Kennedy Library Archives, this immersive app fosters interest in the sciences, exploration, volunteerism and cultural exchange, while providing a window into how John F. Kennedy inspired a generation. Players can personalize their Peace Corps mission in Colombia and journey into space with their own photographs that appear in the games.

Shuttle Launch in App

As virtual astronauts in the Space Race mission, players travel back in time to train for the Apollo 11 flight. They try on a spacesuit, steer the spacecraft, dodge meteors and explore the Moon’s surface while learning about NASA, space travel, and the first moon walk.

Peace Corps Screen in App

Back on Earth, the Peace Corps mission takes young volunteers on a trip to 1961 in Colombia, where they learn Spanish words, the local culture, and world geography. They use these skills and knowledge to navigate mazes and other games as they help build pathways for clean drinking water and houses in the virtual village.

With more than ten enriching games and activities in the app, players will learn about President Kennedy’s life and legacy, NASA and the first moon walk made by the Apollo 11 mission, the history of the Peace Corps, Colombian culture and world geography.

For a preview of the app, visit JFKChallenge.org to view videos, learn more about the missions and challenges, or download the game in the App Store.

 

The JFK Challenge was made possible through a grant from Disney.

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Truman Library Teachers Conference in July

The Truman Library’s 12th annual Teachers Conference will take place this summer from July 13–17.

In June 1957, former President Truman wrote to his wife, Bess, and summed up each year of their marriage with one sentence. For the momentous year that was 1945, President Truman wrote, ” V.P. & President. War End.”

This year’s conference, “1945: V.P. & President. War End,” will fully examine the year 1945.

Presenters from various presidential libraries, scholars, and historians will look at the year from multiple perspectives. The conference will examine the roles of Franklin Roosevelt in World War II, the leadership of Winston Churchill, the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences, social issues such as the importance of baseball in postwar America, Truman’s ascent to the presidency, and the issue of ending the war in Japan.

The National Archives, the Library of Congress and the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education will share resources and activities.

Teachers will have time during the week to research and develop lesson plans, which will be posted in the Truman Library’s online lesson plan database.

Find more information, the application, and lessons created at previous conferences on the Truman Library website.

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Open Registration for Summer Professional Development

We are now accepting applications for Primarily Teaching—our summer institute for educators on using historical documents in the classroom. Learn more and apply online.

Summer 2015 workshops will be held at our locations in:

  • Atlanta (Morrow, GA) June 22–26
  • Chicago, June 22–26
  • Seattle, July 6–10
  • Washington, DC, July 6–10
  • West Branch, IA, July 20–24

Teachers in Chicago

All workshops will have a national theme—Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History—matching that of National History Day in 2016. Participation in the National History Day competition is not required.

Each National Archives location will explore a specific case study, with original documents in our archival holdings, that fits within this broader theme:

  • Atlanta: To the Moon!: NASA Records
  • Chicago: The U.S. Encounters a World War: The WWI Homefront in the Midwest
  • Seattle: Effects of Lewis and Clark on Modern Native America
  • Washington, DC: Chinese Immigration to the United States, 1882-1920
  • The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library (West Branch, IA): Case Studies from the Hoover Library
Portion of Application to Enter the United States with Photograph

Seen in his application to enter the United States, this gentleman was initially barred from immigrating as an alien enemy, but was granted entry after being detained for several weeks. This document was found and scanned during Primarily Teaching 2014 in Washington, DC.

Digitization of documents related to these case studies will be our priority. You will find between 3 and 5 items (documents, photos, maps, etc.) to scan and describe. We will add these to our online tool for teaching with documents—DocsTeach.org—while participants are onsite. During the workshop, you’ll produce a DocsTeach learning activity using the digitized materials.

After guided research using the case study, you will have the opportunity to continue researching the case study, or go on to independently research a more specific topic of your choice related to Exploration, Encounter, Exchange.

Last year’s participants in ChicagoWashington, DC, Atlanta, and Boston located and scanned almost 150 primary sources that are now available to educators on DocsTeach!

Topics included:

Join us this summer!

 

Primarily Teaching is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation, through the support of Texas Instruments and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

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An Invitation to Field Test New Civil War Learning Lab

Today’s post comes from Megan Nobriga, intern in our Education and Public Programs division.

We’re looking for DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia educators to field test a new one-hour document-based learning lab that focuses on aspects of the Civil War.

Student "Archivist" in Learning Lab

A student “archivist” during the Constitution-in-Action learning lab at the National Archives.

It was designed for high school students and takes place at the Boeing Learning Center at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC.

In the new learning program, “The Civil War: Commemorate or Celebrate?,” students are presented with the task of making a recommendation to Congress on the creation of a new holiday to remember the Civil War. Students will help decide if this holiday should be celebratory or commemorative in nature.

The lab features primary source documents that focus on different aspects of the Civil War. Students are organized into small groups to analyze different documents based on these aspects:

  • Government,
  • Technology and Tactics,
  • Ideology,
  • Civilians,
  • Soldiers, and
  • African Americans.

Each student will analyze one document and decide whether to celebrate or commemorate the war. The students will discuss and debate their documents and decisions in their groups.

After, a large group discussion and debate will focus on how the different aspects of the Civil War support either a commemoration or a celebration.

Let us know if you’re interested in bringing your students to help field test this program! We are looking for groups that can help provide feedback as we develop this program.

Leave a comment below or contact Amber Kraft (amber.kraft@nara.gov 202-357-7496) or Megan Nobriga (megan.nobriga@nara.gov) to reserve a time and date in February for your students to come and try out our new learning lab program!

 

The Boeing Learning Center is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the support of The Boeing Company and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

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The Roosevelts and Race: A Distance Learning Program

Registration is now open for two programs on February 18th: “The Roosevelts and Race in the 1930s and 40s” at 10:00–10:50 a.m. and 2:00–2:50 p.m. CST.

Despite overwhelming support from the African American electorate, FDR’s fear of losing the support of long-serving southern Democrats in Congress kept him from becoming a champion of civil rights.

This session will explore the Roosevelt record on race by highlighting three specific events: Mrs. Roosevelt’s 1939 resignation from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR); Executive Order 8802, which ended discrimination in the defense industries; and the creation of the all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron, the “Tuskegee Airmen.”

People Gathered to Hear Singer Marian Anderson in Potomac Park

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt worked to arrange this concert; 75,000 people gathered to hear Marian Anderson sing after she had been denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall.

“The Roosevelts and Race in the 1930s and 40s” is presented by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum as part of the Presidential Primary Sources Project (PPSP).

The Presidential Primary Sources Project offers a series of free, 50-minute, interactive videoconferencing programs to students all over the world. PPSP is a collaboration between the National Park Service, U.S. Presidential Libraries and Museums, other cultural and historic organizations, and the Internet2 community.

Students will interact live with presidential historians at museums and Presidential Libraries and park rangers at our National Presidential Historic Sites to explore historical themes and events. This year’s PPSP theme is “Human and Civil Rights.” In addition to live interactive discussion, primary source documents will be used extensively during the presentations. Each program will also be live streamed (no registration required) and archived for on demand viewing.

Watch the archived program “President Truman and Civil Rights,” presented by the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum from February 4, 2015. The presentation examined primary sources from the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum and evaluated Truman’s response to the mistreatment of African American veterans.

Look for “Segregation and a Controversial Tea Party at the White House” presented by the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and The White House Historical Association coming up on March 13.

See the list of presentations by our Presidential Libraries on www.archives.gov/education/distance-learning and the full presentation schedule from PPSP.

You can learn more about PPSP at http://k20.internet2.edu/presidents or on the PPSP Facebook page.

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