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Digging Deeper into World History Primary Sources


Several months ago, I had the privilege to keynote the online Digging Deeper into Primary Sources conference hosted by the South Dakota State Library. The conference was a full day of conversations about why and how we should be using primary sources as part of our instruction.

Teachers, South Dakota library staff, and Library of Congress archivists shared a ton of great ideas and suggestions. Dr. Peggy O’Neill-Jones shared her thoughts on different strategies for document analysis, there were multiple lightning rounds of 15 minute presentations, and author Jean Patrick finished the day with a session titled Footnotes and Phone Calls: My Life as Nonfiction Detective. Everyone walked away smarter than when they walked in.

The cool thing is that the South Dakota library folks archived everything so you can pretend that you were a part of the day. Hand over to their site to harvest all the goodies.

But while we all agree that using primary sources is a good thing, I am often accused (and perhaps rightfully so) of not sharing enough world history resources. And so, for your viewing and teacher pleasure on a beautiful Friday afternoon, ten resources for finding world history primary sources:

National History Day
Resources for creating a NHD project – includes some great world history links.

Center for History and New Media
The World History Sources gives you website reviews describing online primary source archives, evaluating resources, and providing classroom suggestions. Browse by time period or try the advanced search. Their World History front page provides: guides by leading world history scholars to analyzing primary sources, eight multimedia case studies model strategies for interpreting particular types of primary sources and placing them in historical context, and sixteen case studies which discuss the planning and implementation involved in teaching a particular primary source

Library of Congress
Primary and secondary sources

Best Sites for Primary Documents in World History
Peter Pappas asked his ed students to develop this list. All of the sites feature good search engines and the ability to download documents for use in classroom projects.

University of Pittsburg World History Center
The WHC created this handy PDF list of primary sources and other materials.

History Alive!
More a list of lesson plans with resources embedded – individual or discussion activities follow each primary source excerpt.

These guys always have excellent materials. “From the death cults of Egypt to the fearsome yet sophisticated society of the Vikings, the ancient world was a surprising and challenging place.”

Kileen Independent School District
This huge PDF document, created for AP World History, is a wonderful resource for ancient and modern world history textual excerpts.

Annenberg Learner
Their Bridging World History site is more of an actual course but it has amazing resources. And you just might find some helpful lessons as well.

If you’re curious, here’s what I shared at the Digging Deeper conference:




One Comment Post a comment
  1. Jennifer #

    Thanks for sharing this, Glenn. Made this world history teacher’s day🙂

    May 17, 2015

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