Teaching Tools Library Feature: TeachArchives.org

As part of the TPS Collective Teaching Tools Library, we’ll be offering periodic feature reviews of specific items in the library that may be of use to those who teach with primary sources.

TeachArchives.org is a collection of lesson plans aimed at promoting archival and primary source literacy. It was produced at the Brooklyn Historical Society between 2011 and 2013 in collaboration with faculty at Long Island University Brooklyn, New York City College of Technology and St. Francis College. The project offers three main kinds of information: a set of short articles about primary source instruction in an archive, lesson plans taught in the archives using archival materials, and backend project information including recommendations for project management tools. 

The greatest strength of the site are the sample exercises, which are well-mapped out with specific learning objectives, end products, materials lists, session context, and other details. The inclusion of context for each class session is particularly useful as it suggests how the class session fit into a larger class. The materials used in most of the other exercises are at least partially digitized and the materials for Athena Devlin’s “Mustering Men during the Civil War,” Alexandria M. Engler’s “Politics and Religion in Civil War Letters,” Sara R. Haviland’s “Civil Rights in Brooklyn,” and Kimberly Faith Jones’ “Runaway Slave Ads” are all fully digitized. A printable version of each class session (not including archival materials) is available for download on each page.

Overall, the site is particularly useful for librarians and faculty interested in teaching single-session introductions to archival materials who are looking for models of instruction. Some of the exercises and articles could be adapted for rare book instruction, but as the project title indicates, it is designed mainly with archives in mind.

This feature review was written by John Henry Adams, PhD, special collections librarian at the University of Missouri.

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