How Are You Persuaded? – Historical Election Memorabilia

Which would persuade you to vote for the candidate?

Multiple Choices with Campaign Memorabilia

A. Campaign Pin
B. Car with Children
C. Family Decoupage Plaque
D. Let’s Make America Great Again T-shirt

This question comes from our fun quiz: “How Are You Persuaded?” at

We designed this “personality quiz” as a quick class warm-up activity — and to provide a way to bring historical campaigns and memorabilia into this election season. You can guide your students through the six questions to find out how political campaigns appeal to them. Take a class poll and cast your vote. Then see which type of campaigning you collectively lean toward. Do you like gadgets and technology? Humor? Constant reminders? Or maybe that personal touch?

If your students are intrigued, you can continue to share historical campaign memorabilia with them from our Election Collection page. Topics highlight political memorabilia from Presidential campaigns from the 1850s through the 1990s and include buttons, posters, novelty items, campaign trail photos, and more!

Campaign Buttons

These pieces of campaign history come from the collections of our Presidential Libraries and were identified as part of our #ElectionCollection challenge.

Posted in Online Tools, Teaching Activities & Lesson Plans | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Presidential Campaign Memorabilia on DocsTeach

Share historical campaign memorabilia with your students on our new DocsTeach Election Collection page!

Campaign ButtonsWe’ve assembled a wide variety of documents, photographs, artifacts and other historical items from the holdings of our Presidential Libraries — our Election Collection.

Topics highlight political memorabilia from Presidential campaigns from the 1850s through the 1990s. Check out posters, fashion, buttons & jewelry, food & drink, and more at:

In honor of Election Tuesday, we’ll publish a new Election Collection theme every Tuesday until the Presidential election on November 8th. You can also follow along — and even share your own quirky, cool, and surprising historic memorabilia on Instagram or another social platform — in our #ElectionCollection Challenge.

These pieces of campaign history come from the collections of the Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Ronald Reagan, and William J. Clinton Presidential Libraries.

Posted in Online Tools | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Truman Presidential Inquiries

Today’s post comes from Mark Adams, education specialist at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, MO.

Historians practice their craft by asking questions about the past, then searching for evidence to construct the best answer possible. Similarly we learn history best by asking questions about the past, going to the original sources of history and evaluating what they tell us.

The lessons created in the “Truman Presidential Inquiries” project do just that. They pose a question connected to Truman’s time as president, then direct the learner to carefully consider what the evidence reveals.

Truman DBQ Website

The instructional sequence is intended to be flexible; instead of attempting to lay out what to do during single class periods, these lessons are designed to encourage the steps basic to every inquiry:

  1. Frame the inquiry – Decide what is worthy of investigation and how it will be accomplished.
  2. Go to the sources – Look for reliable sources on the topic, taking note of the diverse perspectives they reveal.
  3. Review the evidence – Evaluate the evidence to determine what answer or interpretation is best supported by this information.
  4. Communicate an answer – Share the best answer or interpretation to the original question in an interesting format.

We invite you to try out these lessons and even try creating your own. You can mix up these lessons to fit the needs of your students or the time constraints of your classroom. If the documents you find don’t satisfy your students’ curiosity, you will find that many of the valuable documents held by the Truman Library are digitized. Many of these are found in research files, organized by subject, or you can dig deeper with other archival finding aids.

During the summers of 2015 and 2016, Independence School District teachers created ten different inquiries examining a variety of issues during Truman’s presidency. These range from the use of the atomic bomb, to civil rights, to the establishment of the CIA and more. Each inquiry contains background information, an essential question for students to wrestle with, directions, and then primary source material from the Truman Library archives.

All the handouts and resources are downloadable and available for anyone to use from the Truman Library website at:

Posted in Teaching Activities & Lesson Plans | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Almost Constitution Day!

September 17 is designated as Constitution Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787.

The National Archives in Washington, DC, is the permanent home of the original United States Constitution. Here are a few resources that you can use to talk about the Constitution with your students on Constitution Day or any time.

The Constitution on DocsTeach

Bring the Constitution to LifeHelp your students understand ideas like checks and balances, separation of powers, amendments, the Bill of Rights, slavery and the Constitution, and more through primary sources and online activities on our special Constitution page on

Students can connect primary sources that span the course of American history to the principles found in the Constitution. For example, in “The Constitution at Work” they will match historical documents to specific wording in the Constitution to understand how our government’s actions are guided by this document.

Congress Creates the Bill of Rights eBookCongress Creates the Bill of Rights

You and your students can explore how the First Congress proposed amendments to the Constitution in 1789 in “Congress Creates the Bill of Rights.” This package, including eBook, mobile app for tablets, and online teaching resources, shows how the ratification of the Constitution necessitated the creation of the Bill of Rights, and how the creation of the Bill of Rights, in turn, completed the Constitution.

Constitution eBook and iTunes U Course

Learn about the Constitutional Convention, drafting and ratifying the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the three branches of our Federal government, and how the National Archives is preserving our Constitution in a Constitution course on iTunes U. Or read “Exploring the United States Constitution,” an eBook that explores the Constitutional roots of the three branches of our government while featuring connections to historical documents in the holdings of the National Archives.

The Preamble Challenge

The National Archives is a partner organization in the Civics Renewal Network, an alliance of nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations committed to increasing the quality of civics education in our nation’s schools and improving accessibility to high-quality, no-cost learning materials.

Naturalization Ceremony at the Custom House in Salem, Mass.You can Celebrate Constitution Day with the Civics Renewal Network by signing up to take the Preamble Challenge, a nationwide celebration on September 16, and access a free Teacher Toolkit.

The Challenge is a fun, easy way to fulfill the Byrd Amendment, which requires educational institutions that receive federal funding to teach about the Constitution on Constitution Day. You can even share photos of your classroom activity on Twitter or Instagram using #ConstitutionDay2016 and visit on Constitution Day to see what other classes are doing!

The Original Constitution at the National Archives Museum

Inside the Rotunda for the Charters of FreedomAnyone can visit the Constitution in person at the National Archives. And online visitors can learn about the creation and history of the Constitution, and meet America’s Founding Fathers, in the “The Charters of Freedom” online exhibit.

The Constitution-in-Action Learning Lab

Kids at Computer in the Constitution in Action Learning LabYou can plan a trip to the National Archives in Washington, DC, to participate in a Constitution-in-Action Learning Lab. School groups, families, and other groups of civic-minded individuals can take on the roles of archivists and researchers completing a very important assignment: providing the President of the United States with real-life examples of our Constitution in action.

Posted in Partner Organizations, Student Visits, Teaching Activities & Lesson Plans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Educator Open House in Washington, DC

If you’ll be in the DC area on Thursday, September 22, join us for our annual educator open house from 5:30–7:30 pm.

Light refreshments will be served. You can enjoy a special after-hours viewing of our exhibits, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

We’ll also provide an introduction to our:

  • classroom resources and primary sources,
  • online learning programs,
  • field trip options,
  • professional development opportunities, and
  • ideas and support for National History Day.

Come meet our National Archives education specialists and hear about the National Archives in your classroom!

Registration is requested but not required:

You can download the flyer here (PDF) to share with your education colleagues.

Posted in National History Day, Online Tools, Professional Development, Programs, Student Visits, Teaching Activities & Lesson Plans | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

WWI App Coming Soon, with Help from Educators

Today’s post comes from Kerri Young, engagement manager at Historypin, and Kimberlee Ried, public programs specialist at the National Archives at Kansas City.

The National Archives has teamed with Historypin, the National WWI Museum and Memorial the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Library of Congress and a growing number of cultural heritage partners to develop an engaging World War I app and website to dynamically highlight WWI content. The beta release will be available early this fall.

The app invites people nationwide to contribute their own stories and play a part in the centennial commemoration of the First World War. Building on an amazing moving image archive being digitized and preserved especially for the centennial, a flood of rarely seen, public domain images and films will encourage discovery and creative reuse.

Teachers at the WWI App Workshop

Thank you to the teachers who helped design the forthcoming WWI app!

In late June, teachers from across the country gathered in Kansas City at the National World War I Museum and Memorial to review an early version of this WWI app. Traveling to the workshop from Michigan, New York, Missouri, Arkansas, California, Tennessee, and Mississippi, those who attended were able to test out the functions and features of the app and provide critical design feedback. The primary aim was to explore realistic scenarios for how the app and its growing set of rich primary source materials can be used in a classroom setting.

This lively group of teachers provided invaluable feedback to the National Archives, as well as app-designer Historypin, who fed this information back into the app’s design process.WWI App Roundtable

Our WWI app is part of the larger Wartime Films Project, focused on taking a user-centered design approach toward engagement on a major digitization initiative of a unique collection of wartime films and rarely seen still images from WWI.

Workshops like the one in Kansas City are a key part our engagement project, in that we strive to maintain relationships with key external representatives who will follow our progress and feed it as we iterate. Teachers are one of our primary audiences for this project, and we are grateful for those who participated in our Kansas City workshop and helped to influence how this WWI app will be used in classrooms across the country and in Europe.

Posted in Online Tools, Partner Organizations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The American Democracy Collection: Telling the story of Presidential Elections

This post originally appeared on our sister blog NARAtions.

From political campaigns to conventions, from constitutional amendments to landmark documents, the holdings of the National Archives document the history of American democracy in action.

To share some of these historic moments, we are pleased to participate in Google Arts & Culture’s American Democracy collection, contributing 13 interactive online exhibits that tell the story of presidential elections in the United States. These specially curated exhibits feature historic photos, documents, videos, and stories related to the history and evolution of elections, how we amend the Constitution, political cartoons and campaign memorabilia.

landing page for the American Democracy Google Cultural Institute exhibit

Some highlights in this exhibit collection include a document proposing a Constitutional amendment to elect the President with a lot system, the story of how LBJ championed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as presidents on the campaign trail, including some never-before-seen pictures of President Richard Nixon addressing the crowd at the Republican National Convention of 1972, photographed by renowned photographer Ollie Atkins and the White House Photo Office.

Richard Nixon standing at podium during campaign, 1972

Richard Nixon Standing at RNC Podium Over Delegates, Campaign 1972

View all of the U.S. National Archives online exhibits in the American Democracy Collection and on Google Cultural Institute.

This project is part of the Google Arts & Culture’s American Democracy collection, which brings together over 70 exhibits and 2500+ artifacts from 44 institutions dedicated to the preservation of U.S. political history and the practice of American democracy.

"Housewives for Truman" in New York, 1948

“Housewives for Truman” in New York, 1948

Can’t get enough campaign memorabilia? You can follow our #ElectionCollection Instagram challenge to see more quirky, col and surprising historic memorabilia!

Posted in Exhibits, Online Tools | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing FOIA to a New Generation

You can see this post as it originally appeared on our sister blog The FOIA Ombudsman.

Students in a library

We hope our work will help young researchers learn to love FOIA. (National Archives Identifier 23932367)

The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, generally provides any person with the statutory right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to Government information in executive branch agency records.

FOIA is a powerful tool for those who wish to learn more about how government agencies do their work, but too many are unaware that the right to request government records exists.

So, in partnership with colleagues in our Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), we’re developing teaching resources about FOIA that can be easily integrated into secondary school lessons.

We envision these materials fitting neatly into existing units in social studies, history, civics, and government classes (but we can’t wait to hear how educators in other areas use them!).

In order to illustrate the power of records to shed light on the Government’s actions, these lessons will link FOIA to key historical events. As a first step, OGIS solicited input from staff across the National Archives to help identify records in the National Archives Catalog that link to important points in history.

We also hope that you can suggest records in the National Archives Catalog that will help students understand the role of records in improving understanding of the government’s actions. Join our conversation on History Hub, our online community for researchers, citizen historians, archival professionals, and open government advocates.

In October 2015, the White House released the Third U.S. Government National Action Plan. While NAP 3.0 includes a number of useful commitments from the National Archives, we are particularly excited about our commitment to develop curriculum tools to introduce secondary students to the Freedom of Information Act.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Posted in Teaching Activities & Lesson Plans | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Suspending the Right of Due Process: Japanese-American Relocation during World War II

This post is part of our series on the Bill of Rights. We’re highlighting primary sources selected to help students explore core concepts found within the Bill of Rights, and how they’ve impacted American history. This year marks the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. The National Archives is commemorating the occasion with exhibits, educational resources, and national conversations that examine the amendment process and struggles for rights in the United States.

American citizens can sometimes take their “inalienable rights” for granted.

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II, in reaction to growing hysteria along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Southern California and in the Hawaiian Islands, families of Japanese ancestry were sent to hastily built “relocation” camps further inland.

They had committed no crimes.  Almost 2/3 of them were American citizens.  This included  thousands of small children.  Because of a largely unfounded, but perceived, public danger they were denied the Constitutional right to due process through the courts and were sent en masse to live in tar-paper dormitories, solely because they were of Japanese ancestry.


“Exclusion order posted at First and Front Streets in San Francisco directing removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from the first section of the city to be affected by evacuation. Evacuees will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.”

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Because of the perception of “public danger,” all Japanese within varied distances from the Pacific coast were targeted.  Unless they were able to dispose of or make arrangements for care of their property within a few days, their homes, farms, businesses and most of their private belongings were lost forever.


“Sacramento, California.  Children of Japanese ancestry play on the front porch of their home two days before evacuation.”

First, they were sent to “assembly centers” – often racetracks or fairgrounds – where they waited and were tagged to indicate the location of a long-term “relocation center” that would be their home for the rest of the war.


“Hayward, California.  Two children of the Mochida family who, with their parents are awaiting evacuation bus.”

They were then sent by train or bus to their assigned Center, which were often very far away from their homes, often with very different climates and harsh conditions.  There were nine  primary “relocation” centers at:

  • Manzanar, California
  • Tule Lake, California
  • Minidoka, Idaho
  • Amache, Colorado
  • Heart Mountain, Wyoming
  • Topaz, Utah
  • Gila River, Arizona
  • Jerome, Arkansas, and
  • Rohrer, Arkansas.
JapaneseChildren2Minidoka-21-1670a (1)

“Gerald, 5, David, 6, and Chester Sakura, brothers.  These little evacuees, along with 600 others from the Puyallup (WA) assembly center have just arrived at Eden, Idaho, and will spend the duration [of the war] at the Minidoka War Relocation Authority Center.” 8/17/1942.

At these “relocation centers” they were housed in army-style barracks, usually shared with several other families.  Most lived in these conditions for nearly three years or more until the end of the war. Gradually some insulation was added to the barracks and lightweight partitions were added to make them a little more comfortable and somewhat private.


“Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California.  Pre-school children on the way to their barrack homes from morning class at this War Relocation Authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.”

During this period, three Japanese-American citizens were involved in legal actions in protest of this policy: Gordon Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu, and Mitsuye Endo. Hirabayashi and Korematsu received negative judgments, but Mitsuye Endo, after a lengthy battle through lesser courts, was allowed to leave the Topaz, Utah, facility.

Justice Murphy of the Supreme Court expressed the following opinion:

I join in the opinion of the Court, but I am of the view that detention in Relocation Centers of persons of Japanese ancestry regardless of loyalty is not only unauthorized by Congress or the Executive but is another example of the unconstitutional resort to racism inherent in the entire evacuation program. As stated more fully in my dissenting opinion in Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 , 65 S.Ct. 193, racial discrimination of this nature bears no reasonable relation to military necessity and is utterly foreign to the ideals and traditions of the American people.  (Find more from this case on

In 1988,  President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act awarding compensation and issuing a formal apology for the U.S. military action affecting over 100,000 Japanese-American civilians during World War II.

These and thousands of other documents and photographs related to the Japanese Relocation experience are available on the National Archives Online Catalog and

These primary source documents might be used to begin classroom discussions using questions such as:

  • Could we ever be deprived of the rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution and its amendments without good reason?  What might cause such a severe response?
  • What far-reaching consequences might occur if we had even a temporary suspension of your own rights?  How would we pick up our lives after it was over?
  • The relocation camps often had barbed wire surrounding them and guards in towers around the perimeter.  Do you think they were actually prisons?

Documents, including those above and those found in some of the following resources, can be analyzed carefully by students depending upon their grade level.  You might want to use our document or photograph analysis worksheets.


Additional Resources:

Online Lesson Plans

Other Information

Posted in Document Spotlights, Teaching Activities & Lesson Plans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing the Newly Redesigned

Our popular teaching website, has a new look and updated features!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At its core, DocsTeach is very much the same site. You can still find thousands of primary sources — letters, photographs, speeches, posters, maps, videos, and more — spanning the course of American history.

Activity Search on DocsTeach

Find activities by era, skill, grade or type.

And with your (free) account, you can create your own fun and engaging online activities.

You can borrow from the ever-expanding collection of document-based activities created by us at the National Archives — or from fellow teachers around the world.

And you can still copy and customize any activity you find for your students.

How Have Americans Responded to Immigration? activity

Now students can complete activities and teachers can create activities right from the browser on mobile devices!

But now you can do all of this on mobile devices, including tablets, in addition to your computer.

Aside from making the site mobile friendly, we made other improvements as well. After all, we’ve delivered thousands of DocsTeach presentations for thousands of educators at conferences, in professional development workshops, and online — and there was a short list of questions with which we’d become familiar. Of course we used these to guide our major updates.

DocsTeach is now easier to use, more customizable, and provides a more complete experience for students.

New features include the ability to:

  • organize and share favorite documents,
  • view multimedia,
  • access document transcriptions and citations,
  • easily save and print primary sources,
  • include primary sources from outside the National Archives, and
  • search activities by grade level.
The WWI Homefront

Now you can share document collections with students or fellow teachers.

We also made some changes to provide clearer information about the resources on DocsTeach and to make it easier to find:

  • DocsTeach activities are labeled with the CC0 Public Domain Dedication and classified as open educational resources — anyone around the world can copy, modify, or distribute them freely.
  • The copyright status of each primary source on the site is clearly stated.
  • Metadata in the code has made the site more “discoverable” (following the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) and specifications). This means the site is more likely to come up in searches using education-specific terms.

Since we first launched in 2010, DocsTeach pages have been viewed over 12.5 million times, in over 2.2 million visits from around the world. More than 35,000 registered users have created over 20,000 activities. And teachers, students, and schools have downloaded the DocsTeach app for iPad over 580,000 times.

Attention Registered Users

Even though you already have an account, you’ll need to re-register using your current username the first time you visit the redesigned

Once you register and log in, you can migrate any activities you’ve already created.

  1. Register for an account. You must use the same username that you used previously in order to sync your account.
  2. You’ll receive an email with a link to click on to verify your account.
  3. Log in to DocsTeach.
  4. Use the Menu to find My Account and choose Migrate Activities.
  5. You will see the activities you’ve previously created and can migrate them so that you and your students can use them.
  6. Access your migrated activities in My Activities – you may even wish to edit them to take advantage of the new features.

Watch for a new iPad app

The newly redesigned DocsTeach website works on iPads and other tablets. But if you prefer, you can use the DocsTeach app to share primary source-based learning activities with your students to access on their iPads.

Currently, the app is disabled while we update it — a brand new app will be available in the coming weeks!

DocsTeach is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the support of Texas Instruments, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, and Capital One. Thank you, National Archives Foundation and supporters, for helping us complete this long-awaited redesign! 

Posted in Online Tools | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments