Primary Sources in Your Classroom

Primary Source Analysis—Documents

Page from the Primary Source Analysis Worksheet

Analyzing and understanding historical documents is a crucial component of social studies. Whether your students are examining the official records of the House found on Records Search or investigating other historical documents from American history, this worksheet helps guide students through their analysis and organize their thoughts. This primary source analysis graphic organizer can be used in any way you choose, including as a class exercise, student assessment, or homework assignment.

The downloadable PDF below includes a blank worksheet, teaching suggestions, helpful hints, and a completed example. This downloadable PDF can also be found alongside every document on Records Search in the “Teaching Tip” box.

Primary Source Analysis—Images and Artifacts

Photographs, artifacts, and artworks are primary sources. Images, like those found in Collections Search, show historical events from the creator’s perspective. Like documents, objects and works of art can be analyzed by students to develop their knowledge of history and their critical thinking skills.

Three image analysis worksheets—for photographs, artifacts, and artworks—are provided for your classroom. These worksheets provide a framework to guide students as they examine an image or artifact. Through guided close inspection, students will uncover the historical background and the significance of the piece. You can use the analysis worksheets in the classroom, for homework, or for student assessment.

The downloadable PDFs below include teaching suggestions, a blank worksheet, and a completed example.

Download PDFs:

Guide to Related Subjects in Records Search

Finding primary sources to integrate into your lessons is easy using this guide to related subjects in Records Search. Students will be able to explore subjects like “civil rights,” “photographs,” “education,” and “United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865” using House records.

Download this PDF and click on the subject that you’re teaching. The link will open all the documents related to that topic in Records Search. Each primary source can be downloaded and used in the classroom however you choose. This guide will be updated as new records are added to Records Search.