An Updated DocsTeach is Coming Your Way

National Archives Building Being Constructed
Photograph of Construction on the National Archives Building, available on DocsTeach (National Archives Identifier 7368457)

We’re excited to announce that we’ve begun an overhaul of, our popular online tool for teaching with documents.

Look for our updated site in summer 2016! [Updated 3/25/16]

We launched DocsTeach five years ago. Since then, during more than 10 million visits to our pages from around the world, students have learned about the past through primary sources; and educators have discovered documents, explored online activities, and created learning activities.

And after delivering thousands of presentations about the DocsTeach website — for thousands of educators at conferences, in professional development workshops, and online — there is a short list of questions with which we’ve become familiar. It only made sense to use these as a guide to inform the major updates we plan to make (along with some other improvements too!).

Does DocsTeach work on my iPad, tablet, or other mobile device?

We’re building the new DocsTeach so that the site works on any mobile device, as well as on the computer. Our DocsTeach App for iPad, launched in 2012, enables teachers to share learning activities from with students to access on their iPads; but this change will enable you to find primary sources and create activities from your iPad too.

Can I find teaching activities by grade level?

In addition to finding activities by era, historical thinking skill, and activity type, we’re planning to add a filter for grade level. So you’ll be able to find a great activity for middle school students who are studying the legislative process, for example, more easily.

Can I organize my favorite primary sources into folders? What about my favorite activities?

In the new version, we want members (those who have registered for a— still free! — DocsTeach account) to be able to select primary sources as favorites and organize them within their accounts. The ability to organize and share goes for online activities too.

Do you transcribe the primary source documents on DocsTeach?

We’ll include transcriptions for primary sources on the updated site, adding them on an ongoing basis.

Partial Transcript of Kansas-Nebraska Act
Partial Transcript of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 that repealed the Missouri Compromise and reopened the national struggle over slavery in the western territories. See the act on DocsTeach at

Do audio and video files play right in the activity?

We’re planning to embed videos and audio files on the site so you and your students don’t have to go to any other website or download any media files. This will be especially useful if you’re using DocsTeach on a mobile device.

Is there an easy way to save and print primary sources?

We’re working to make this even easier, with one-click downloading.

Can I include primary sources from places other than the National Archives in an activity I’m making?

We’re going to build flexibility into the new site so that you’re not restricted to National Archives-only content. Your local historical society, or even your grandmother’s scrapbook, probably has some great material!

Can I add primary sources that I find while browsing the site to activities to work on later?

We’re planning to add this feature so that you can continue seamlessly browsing through primary source documents while adding them to one or more activities.

How do I know the copyright status of the primary sources on DocsTeach? And how do I — and my students — cite documents?

Our updated site will include a rights statement and citation for every primary source document.

We’re hard at work updating the site and look forward to sharing more of it with you in the coming months!

This resource is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the support of Texas Instruments, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, and Capital One.

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