The National Archives unveiled a sleek new web site last week called Doc Teach. The site, which we noted in our most recent What We’re Reading post, offers teachers access to over 3,000 primary sources along with tools to use them in the classroom.
The sources on the site are organized into 8 historical eras:
- Revolution and the New Nation (1754–1820s)
- Expansion and Reform (1801–61)
- Civil War and Reconstruction(1850–77)
- The Development of the Industrial United States (1870–1900)
- The Emergence of Modern America (1890–1930)
- The Great Depression and World War II (1929–45)
- Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
- Contemporary United States (1968 to the present)
You can also browse by primary source type (audio/video, charts/graphs/data, image, map, or written document) or check out a collection of featured documents.
Once you’ve found the primary source, or sources, you’d like to use, the new site gives you ways to use them. There are pre-made activities, which can be clicked through online, or printed out and completed on paper.
For example, take a look at the “What Kind of Leader Was General Douglas MacArthur?” lesson. The landing page gives teachers information about what students will see, in this case, “video clips, photographs, and written documents related to General Douglas MacArthur,” what they will learn, and how they will complete the activity. The MacArthur activity (again, possible to do online or on paper) uses 10 primary resources, including orders, photographs, video, and more. Students analyze each source and then “weigh the evidence” and consider what this information says about MacArthur.
There are also seven tools on the site that allow you to create your own activities, using and combining primary documents suitable for your lesson. These tools “are designed to teach specific historical thinking skills weighing evidence, interpreting data, focusing on details, and more.” They’re all interactive, and use different teaching devices, including puzzles, scales, maps, and flow charts.
The National Archives encourages users to register at the site, in order to take advantage of options like bookmarking and sharing documents, activities, and lessons.
In a press release from the National Archives, Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero was quoted as saying that the new site “will engage teachers and students in new ways and stir their interest in history through the use of original documents in the National Archives. It is also consistent with our goals to make as much of our holdings available to the public as easily as possible.”