The Illinois State Archives has created and made available online teaching packets that focus on primary documents. The most recent teaching packet released online is Early Chicago, 1833-1871, which uses 50 scanned documents to create a “kaleidoscopic picture of Chicago history for the years 1833-1871.” The documents cover a range of topics, from a petition for a new firehouse, to a letter from Martin Van Buren, to a physician’s cholera report. Each document is supported by a transcribed version, an explanation of the history around it, points to consider and discuss, and links to related documents.
Also available online is The Illinois and Michigan Canal, 1827-1911 teaching packet. Three other packets are coming soon: From the Ashes, 1871-1900; Illinois at War, 1941-1945; and Hard Times in Illinois, 1930-1940. Though they’re not yet available online, the print versions of these packets can be purchased from the Illinois State Archives.
The primary documents in all of these packets are intended to create “an excellent opportunity to make the study of history real and meaningful because the actual participants in history produced the documents.”