As the home of Presidential Libraries from Herbert Hoover to today, the National Archives holds many important presidential documents.
You can access thousands of primary sources related to Presidents throughout U.S. History on DocsTeach, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives.
For example, you can locate and share with students some of the most famous presidential speeches of all time – like Ike’s Farewell Address, JFK’s Inaugural Address, and Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall“ Speech.
DocsTeach includes primary sources on a variety of topics like:
- Letters to the President
- Presidential proclamations
- The President’s role as commander in chief
- Signing legislation
- Photographs and artifacts
If you’re looking for primary sources for another topic, visit our document search page and type in your keyword. You can narrow down your results by historical era or document type.
We also have dozens of teaching activities involving Presidential actions. You can explore all them, for a variety of grade levels, on DocsTeach.
For example, in our newly published teaching activity Memorializing Abraham Lincoln in Washington, DC, students can examine three statues of the 16th President and think about how we commemorate leaders in the United States.
Students can also explore letters sent to the President on DocsTeach. In Analyzing a Letter About Ford Pardoning Nixon, students explore the primary source document using a “White Out/Black Out tool” and try to figure out the purpose of the letter.
Two Versions of FDR’s Infamy Speech presents students with two different copies of Roosevelt’s famous speech following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor: an earlier typewritten draft and the final Senate copy of the address. Students read, analyze, and contrast these two versions to see the impact of his changes to the overall message and tone of the speech.
In Letter to Truman about the Manhattan Project, students carefully analyze a letter from Secretary of War Henry Stimson requesting a meeting with President Truman. They will determine what a certain “highly secret matter” is: the development of the atomic bomb.