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We are now accepting applications for Primarily Teaching—our summer institute for educators on using historical documents in the classroom.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

Today’s post comes from Elizabeth Dinschel, education specialist at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, and NHD webinar coordinator.

Do your students need help with research or polishing up their National History Day (NHD) project?

The National Archives and Records Administration, with National History Day, the White House Historical Association, and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, held several online workshops to help students navigate National History Day.YouTube playlist

The workshops were recorded and are available on our website along with more NHD resources.

The latest, “Ask an Archivist,” covered key components to wrapping up research and projects. Students will learn how to frame reference questions so that archivists and professional staff can assist them with research. The webinar also features important guidance for visiting a historic site, conducting oral history interviews, asking experts for advice, and refining a thesis statement.

Screen Shot from Using Primary and Secondary Sources

Using Primary and Secondary Sources,” geared towards NHD students and their teachers, leads off with a message from the Archivist of the United States. This important webinar can help your students understand the complexities of primary and secondary sources, which improves their annotated bibliographies. If a student is struggling with their bibliography, this webinar can walk them through the differences between primary and secondary sources.

All of the NHD workshops can be found at or on YouTube.

Today’s post comes from Chelsea Tremblay, former social media intern in our Education and Public Programs division.

Amelia Earhart prior to last takeoff, ca. 1937. Archives Identifier 670861

Amelia Earhart prior to last takeoff, National Archives Identifier 670861

This year’s National History Day theme, Leadership and Legacy in History, opens the door for millions of topics that span world history. Today we shine a spotlight on a legacy that ended too soon, but one with a story that has not yet ended.

In 1937, Amelia Earhart embarked on an aerial adventure around the world. For years she dreamed of this adventure; she even wrote to President Roosevelt asking for help making her dream a reality.

Letter from Earhart to Roosevelt

Page 1 of Letter from Earhart to Roosevelt, National Archives Identifier 6705943

On July 2nd, as her circumnavigation was just beginning, she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific ocean. According to these navy records, Earhart began signaling distress around 11 a.m. after her departure from New Guinea, communicating that “failure of the flight was imminent.”

When searchers finally reached Earhart’s supposed location the next morning, the weather conditions were too poor to see anything, so they were forced to return to their bases. At the bottom of the following document, you can see Lieutenant Harvey’s description of the dismal conditions.

U. S. Navy Report of the Search for Amelia Earhart. Archives Identifier 305240

U. S. Navy Report of the Search for Earhart, National Archives Identifier 305240

Neither a plane nor bodies were found after the sudden disappearance. The two were never seen or heard from again.

Multiple theories have circled over the years: that Earhart’s plane crashed into the Pacific, resulting in her and Noonan’s death; the two traveled safely back to the United States and lived peacefully with secret identities; she was really a spy and was shot down by enemies of the US; and that the two landed on an abandoned island and lived out the rest of their days there.

The last theory is one popularly defended by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR). They believe she and Noonan spent the last of their days on an uninhabited island south of Hawaii called Nikumaroro. According to this Huffington Post article, several items have been found on the island to suggest that Earhart was there, but there’s never been concrete evidence.

Until last October.

On October 25, 2014 TIGHAR published an intensive theory about a seemingly unimportant piece of metal found on Nikumaroro in 1991. According to their research, the metal sheet was used as a makeshift patch over a rear window of Earhart’s plane. If this is true, it would would be the first piece of Earhart’s vanished plane ever found.

This discovery comes at a great time for students who are deciding on National History Day topics. This year’s theme, Leadership and Legacy, has led numerous kids to think more about Amelia Earhart and her impact on society. She was an inspirational, powerful female figure and even once said to FDR, “Like previous flights, I am undertaking this one solely because I want to, and because I feel that women now and then have to do things to show what women can do.”

Those researching her can look through the report mentioned above, and even trace the military’s search pathway to see if they agree with TIGHAR’s Nikumaroro theory.

Find more resources for National History Day on our website!