Texas Archives Month > Texas Archives Month 2022 Poster (this page)
Texas Archives Month 2022 Poster – Analyzing Primary Sources in the Classroom
A PDF file of the 2022 Archives Month Poster is available at this link for download; suitable for printing.
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Analyzing Primary Sources in the Classroom
Texas archives offer a wealth of freely available primary sources for use in the classroom. From K-12 to the university level, educators and students have access to significant collections to support research projects and classroom instruction. Teaching students how to identify primary sources and analyze the historical maps, documents, artifacts, and photographs they discover in archives presents its own challenges. For Texas Archives Month 2022, we focus on this process and offer tools, tips, and resources on identifying primary sources and how to approach various formats of archival materials. We also provide on this page examples to download for exercises.
Resources for Education
Experts at the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) offer programs and resources on using primary sources in the classroom. We are incorporating resources from their sites to promote teaching with primary sources in Texas. First, what is a primary source? The Library of Congress has a helpful definition:
What are Primary Sources?
Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects that were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts that retell, analyze, or interpret events, usually at a distance of time or place.
(Getting Started with Primary Sources / Library of Congress)
Analyze Primary Sources
Analyzing primary sources can be like an investigation. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) provides resources for educators and students who want to learn how to approach different forms of primary sources and how to analyze each type. We will provide their procedures below and offer examples from Texas archival collections for practice.
NARA suggests following this progression:
1. The first few times you ask students to work with primary sources, and whenever you have not worked with primary sources recently, model careful document analysis using the worksheets. Point out that the steps are the same each time, for every type of primary source:
1. Meet the document.
2. Observe its parts.
3. Try to make sense of it.
4. Use it as historical evidence.
2. Once students have become familiar with using the worksheets, direct them to analyze documents as a class or in groups without the worksheets, vocalizing the four steps as they go.
3. Eventually, students will internalize the procedure and be able to go through these four steps on their own every time they encounter a primary source document. Remind students to practice this same careful analysis with every primary source they see.
(Document Analysis Worksheets / Educator Resources / NARA)
Try your analysis with the images below. Click the thumbnails to view/download each item.
Examples of Primary Sources
Click or tap to view/download larger image.
Click or tap to view/download larger image.
Photograph worksheet: https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets/photo-novice
Click or tap image and links to view/download larger image. The document is two pages, Front and Back.
Click to view/download typed transcript of document (PDF).
Document worksheet: https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets/document-novice
Find Primary Sources at Texas Archives
Here are examples of where to search online for primary sources available for viewing and/or download. There are many more! Other examples include university libraries and special collections, public libraries, and municipal and county archives. For Texas Archives Month, we are focusing on Texas repositories. Our national institutions like the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) offer thousands of images online. NARA’s Docsteach program focuses on teaching with primary sources.
Portal to Texas History: https://texashistory.unt.edu/
The most comprehensive online database photographs, documents, newspapers and more from archival collections around the state. Search the portal and download primary sources for use in the classroom and research projects.
Texas Digital Archive: www.tsl.texas.gov/texasdigitalarchive
Find digital versions of primary sources housed at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in the Texas Digital Archive (TDA).
Fort Worth Public Library Digital Archive: http://www.fortworthtexasarchives.org/
This digital archive focuses on Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and the surrounding region.
East Texas Digital Archives: https://digital.sfasu.edu/digital/
Search for primary sources related to East Texas in this digital archive hosted by Stephen F. Austin University.
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Library: https://scholarworks.utrgv.edu/speccoll/
Find primary sources related to the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas.
Austin History Center: https://ahc.access.preservica.com/
Looking for primary sources related to Austin? The Austin History Center offers an online search tool for digitized items.
Houston Public Library Digital Archives: https://digital.houstonlibrary.org/
Find primary sources online from the Houston Public Library.
University of Texas San Antonio Library: https://digital.utsa.edu/
Like many universities, the University of Texas San Antonio offers an online resource for searching digital collections. Find photographs, documents, maps and more online.
University of Texas El Paso Library: https://cdm15823.contentdm.oclc.org/
The C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department offers an online database of images.
Texas A&M University Library: https://library.tamu.edu/research/digital_collections
A wide array of digital collections are listed here for searching for primary sources like maps and photographs.
Find collections with primary sources:
TARO finding aid search: https://txarchives.org/home
Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO) is a consortium of archival repositories with a centralized portal for searching finding aids. Finding aids are collection descriptions. Researchers need to contact the repositories for copies of primary sources.
The 2022 Texas Archives Month Poster features the following images:
Photograph: San Antonio, undated. Humberto V. “Bert” Reyes Collection, Texas A&M San Antonio.
Map: The Galveston Storm, 1900. Map no. 456B, The Rosenberg Library, Galveston.
Document: William Barret Travis's Letter from the Alamo, February 24, 1836. Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
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