Teaching with Primary Sources

Reviewed and Selected by the CCSS Curriculum and Instruction Committee

Reading and analyzing primary sources is a major component of the Common Core ELA Standards for Literacy in History-Social Studies.  This set of resources is designed to provide tools to use key primary sources for American history, civics, and economics teachers.  The resources were reviewed and selected ed by the CCSS Curriculum and Instruction Committee.


Using Maps as Primary Sources 

Library of Congress Map Analysis Tool


Primary Source Map Sites

Abel Buell’s New and Correct Map of the United States of North America, 1784


Library of Congress Maps Collections  


Library of Congress Map Exhibits Search Results|partof:Exhibitions&q=Map


Library of Congress Primary Source Analysis Tools



Primary Source Resources


Early America

Exploring the Early Americas - Explorations and Encounters


Exploring the Early Americas - Aftermath of the Encounter


The Constitution

Primary source set and teachers guide from the Library of Congress

This is a Lesson from the National Archives for grades 4-12


The Civil War in America

“The Valley of the Shadow” website-Primary documents from two communities, one Northern and one Southern. Documents cover the period

from Fall 1859 to Fall 1870.



Primary Sources and More for Economics and the Federal Reserve


Images from Japanese American Internment Camps

This Calisphere site includes photographs, artwork, questions for students, and connection to standards.


Cold War – Cuban Missile Crisis

“To the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis” Exhibit at the National Archives site has TV footage of JFK and a mobile app for iPads with items from the exhibit. 


Civil Rights

The Civil Rights Movement as seen through California Photographers


Cartoon America

NARA’s cartoon analysis sheet

A good collection of cartoons for high school students from the Library of Congress

California Council For the Social Studies
Serving Social Studies Educators in California
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