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Today’s post comes from Jamie Richardson in the Department of Education and Public Programs at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

The John F. Kennedy Challenge

Last month in celebration of Presidents’ Day, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum launched a free iPad app that brings American history to life for upper elementary through early middle school students. The Library’s first-ever app release, The JFK Challenge, turns players into NASA and Peace Corps trainees ready to accept President Kennedy’s charge to accomplish great things and make a difference in the world.

Combining exciting animation with primary sources from the Kennedy Library Archives, this immersive app fosters interest in the sciences, exploration, volunteerism and cultural exchange, while providing a window into how John F. Kennedy inspired a generation. Players can personalize their Peace Corps mission in Columbia and journey into space with their own photographs that appear in the games.

Shuttle Launch in App

As virtual astronauts in the Space Race mission, players travel back in time to train for the Apollo 11 flight. They try on a spacesuit, steer the spacecraft, dodge meteors and explore the Moon’s surface while learning about NASA, space travel, and the first moon walk.

Peace Corps Screen in App

Back on Earth, the Peace Corps mission takes young volunteers on a trip to 1961 in Colombia, where they learn Spanish words, the local culture, and world geography. They use these skills and knowledge to navigate mazes and other games as they help build pathways for clean drinking water and houses in the virtual village.

With more than ten enriching games and activities in the app, players will learn about President Kennedy’s life and legacy, NASA and the first moon walk made by the Apollo 11 mission, the history of the Peace Corps, Columbian culture and world geography.

For a preview of the app, visit to view videos, learn more about the missions and challenges, or download the game in the App Store.


The JFK Challenge was made possible through a grant from Disney.

The Truman Library’s 12th annual Teachers Conference will take place this summer from July 13–17.

In June 1957, former President Truman wrote to his wife, Bess, and summed up each year of their marriage with one sentence. For the momentous year that was 1945, President Truman wrote, ” V.P. & President. War End.”

This year’s conference, “1945: V.P. & President. War End,” will fully examine the year 1945.

Presenters from various presidential libraries, scholars, and historians will look at the year from multiple perspectives. The conference will examine the roles of Franklin Roosevelt in World War II, the leadership of Winston Churchill, the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences, social issues such as the importance of baseball in postwar America, Truman’s ascent to the presidency, and the issue of ending the war in Japan.

The National Archives, the Library of Congress and the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education will share resources and activities.

Teachers will have time during the week to research and develop lesson plans, which will be posted in the Truman Library’s online lesson plan database.

Find more information, the application, and lessons created at previous conferences on the Truman Library website.

We are now accepting applications for Primarily Teaching—our summer institute for educators on using historical documents in the classroom. Learn more and apply online.

Summer 2015 workshops will be held at our locations in:

  • Atlanta (Morrow, GA) June 22–26
  • Chicago, June 22–26
  • Seattle, July 6–10
  • Washington, DC, July 6–10
  • West Branch, IA, July 20–24

Teachers in Chicago

All workshops will have a national theme—Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History—matching that of National History Day in 2016. Participation in the National History Day competition is not required.

Each National Archives location will explore a specific case study, with original documents in our archival holdings, that fits within this broader theme:

  • Atlanta: To the Moon!: NASA Records
  • Chicago: The U.S. Encounters a World War: The WWI Homefront in the Midwest
  • Seattle: Effects of Lewis and Clark on Modern Native America
  • Washington, DC: Chinese Immigration to the United States, 1882-1920
  • The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library (West Branch, IA): Case Studies from the Hoover Library
Portion of Application to Enter the United States with Photograph

Seen in his application to enter the United States, this gentleman was initially barred from immigrating as an alien enemy, but was granted entry after being detained for several weeks. This document was found and scanned during Primarily Teaching 2014 in Washington, DC.

Digitization of documents related to these case studies will be our priority. You will find between 3 and 5 items (documents, photos, maps, etc.) to scan and describe. We will add these to our online tool for teaching with documents——while participants are onsite. During the workshop, you’ll produce a DocsTeach learning activity using the digitized materials.

After guided research using the case study, you will have the opportunity to continue researching the case study, or go on to independently research a more specific topic of your choice related to Exploration, Encounter, Exchange.

Last year’s participants in ChicagoWashington, DC, Atlanta, and Boston located and scanned almost 150 primary sources that are now available to educators on DocsTeach!

Topics included:

Join us this summer!


Primarily Teaching is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation, through the support of Texas Instruments and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Today’s post comes from Megan Nobriga, intern in our Education and Public Programs division.

We’re looking for DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia educators to field test a new one-hour document-based learning lab that focuses on aspects of the Civil War.

Student "Archivist" in Learning Lab

A student “archivist” during the Constitution-in-Action learning lab at the National Archives.

It was designed for high school students and takes place at the Boeing Learning Center at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC.

In the new learning program, “The Civil War: Commemorate or Celebrate?,” students are presented with the task of making a recommendation to Congress on the creation of a new holiday to remember the Civil War. Students will help decide if this holiday should be celebratory or commemorative in nature.

The lab features primary source documents that focus on different aspects of the Civil War. Students are organized into small groups to analyze different documents based on these aspects:

  • Government,
  • Technology and Tactics,
  • Ideology,
  • Civilians,
  • Soldiers, and
  • African Americans.

Each student will analyze one document and decide whether to celebrate or commemorate the war. The students will discuss and debate their documents and decisions in their groups.

After, a large group discussion and debate will focus on how the different aspects of the Civil War support either a commemoration or a celebration.

Let us know if you’re interested in bringing your students to help field test this program! We are looking for groups that can help provide feedback as we develop this program.

Leave a comment below or contact Amber Kraft ( 202-357-7496) or Megan Nobriga ( to reserve a time and date in February for your students to come and try out our new learning lab program!


The Boeing Learning Center is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the support of The Boeing Company and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Registration is now open for two programs on February 18th: “The Roosevelts and Race in the 1930s and 40s” at 10:00–10:50 a.m. and 2:00–2:50 p.m. CST.

Despite overwhelming support from the African American electorate, FDR’s fear of losing the support of long-serving southern Democrats in Congress kept him from becoming a champion of civil rights.

This session will explore the Roosevelt record on race by highlighting three specific events: Mrs. Roosevelt’s 1939 resignation from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR); Executive Order 8802, which ended discrimination in the defense industries; and the creation of the all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron, the “Tuskegee Airmen.”

People Gathered to Hear Singer Marian Anderson in Potomac Park

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt worked to arrange this concert; 75,000 people gathered to hear Marian Anderson sing after she had been denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall.

“The Roosevelts and Race in the 1930s and 40s” is presented by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum as part of the Presidential Primary Sources Project (PPSP).

The Presidential Primary Sources Project offers a series of free, 50-minute, interactive videoconferencing programs to students all over the world. PPSP is a collaboration between the National Park Service, U.S. Presidential Libraries and Museums, other cultural and historic organizations, and the Internet2 community.

Students will interact live with presidential historians at museums and Presidential Libraries and park rangers at our National Presidential Historic Sites to explore historical themes and events. This year’s PPSP theme is “Human and Civil Rights.” In addition to live interactive discussion, primary source documents will be used extensively during the presentations. Each program will also be live streamed (no registration required) and archived for on demand viewing.

Watch the archived program “President Truman and Civil Rights,” presented by the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum from February 4, 2015. The presentation examined primary sources from the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum and evaluated Truman’s response to the mistreatment of African American veterans.

Look for “Segregation and a Controversial Tea Party at the White House” presented by the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and The White House Historical Association coming up on March 13.

See the list of presentations by our Presidential Libraries on and the full presentation schedule from PPSP.

You can learn more about PPSP at or on the PPSP Facebook page.