Teaching the Holocaust with Primary Sources at the National Archives and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Today’s post comes from National Archives volunteer and education fellow Cynthia Peterman. She worked with education staff at the National Archives and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to present a recent webinar for teachers about the Holocaust.

Children looking out a train car window holding a flag
Children Released from Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 6/5/1945. From the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.

The UN’s International Holocaust Day of Remembrance is coming up on January 27th.

To support teachers in advance of this day, we recently offered the webinar “DocsTeach in the Classroom: International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021.” In partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), the program featured historical documents about U.S. immigration and refugee policy during World War II and the Holocaust.

If you’re teaching about Americans and the Holocaust, you can find resources on DocsTeach, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives:

Telegram to Eleanor Roosevelt
Telegram from Passengers on the Ship Quanza to Eleanor Roosevelt, 9/10/1940. From the General Records of the Department of State.

You can also access resources from USHMM:

During our recent webinar, Dr. Rebecca Erbelding, historian and author of Rescue Board: The Untold Story of America’s Efforts to Save the Jews of Europe, provided context for exploring U.S. Immigration Policy (see “Using Primary Sources to Teach About Americans and the Holocaust, Part II”) with an emphasis on what Americans knew about the Holocaust, European refugee ships (see “Using Primary Sources to Teach About Americans and the Holocaust”), and the Emergency Refugee Shelter at Ft. Ontario, NY.

At the National Archives, we demonstrated how to use DocsTeach resources for teaching Americans and the Holocaust, including textual records, audio and visual recordings, and photographs from Record Group 59, General Records of the Department of State, and RG 48, Records of the office of the Secretary of the Interior. In addition, participants explored tools to create their own classroom activities.

Additional resources at the National Archives include:

Participants joined “DocsTeach in the Classroom: International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021” from 33 States, Puerto Rico, and Canada, and included elementary, middle, and high school educators as well as college and university instructors. This was the third program in a collaboration between the National Archives and USHMM’s Levine Institute for Holocaust Education.

You can find upcoming and by-request professional development webinars from the National Archives on our website.

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