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Today’s post comes from students Nicholas Iacovelli and Raven Troyer, who participated in National History Day’s “Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom” Student & Teacher Institute. It was originally posted on “The Voice of NHD.” For the past four years, volunteers at the National Archives at College Park, MD, have conducted research on military records related to fallen service men. On June 25th, the Normandy Institute student/teacher teams spent the day researching in the materials identified by our volunteers.Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom The Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute
On day five of the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Student and Teacher Institute, all of the student and teacher pairs visited the National Archives in Maryland to conduct more research on their silent heroes. We were welcomed by hardworking volunteers and helpful staff that made our research immensely easier. We were split into two groups – one group conducting research in the textual archives and the other in the photographic archives. After a couple of hours of research, students and teachers were treated to a hearty meal and a copy of a news reel from the 1940’s provided to us by the generous staff at the National Archives. After lunch the groups switched and continued their research on their respective heroes. Students and teachers also had the option to view various maps of the invasion at Normandy and even search for their silent heroes’ temporary graves. The contents of the textual archives varied from mission records to medical records from when they first enlisted or were drafted. Meanwhile, the photographic archives contained various pictures of planes, pilot crews, vehicles, and soldiers relative to our silent heroes.

Once students and teachers arrived back at the [George Washington University] Mount Vernon campus they were split up; students would run through a simulation on a European invasion and teachers began prepping for the trip to France. The simulation consisted of the students breaking up into various groups, three planning and one judging. The students who were tasked with planning had 15 minutes to come up with a good invasion plan to assist in the liberation of Europe. The students left with judging had to determine who came up with the best invasion plan based on a list of criteria. In the end, it was the plan that consisted of an invasion of Southern France via North Africa that won the judge’s votes. At the end of the day we all came out with a better understanding of our silent heroes’ military careers (thanks to the hard work of those at the National Archives) and the stressful process of planning the invasion of Europe.

You can learn more about National History Day’s “Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom” Student & Teacher Institute on “The Voice of NHD” and on

Today’s post comes from Caela Murphy, summer intern in our Education and Public Programs Division.

Pacing the stage in a blue army coat and pantaloons, Meriwether Lewis issued a warning to participants during the orientation program for the National Archives’ second “History, Heroes & Treasures” overnight. There would be no eating outside of the food area, he said, as he had learned from experience that unwrapped food can attract bears to a campsite.

Arctic explorers Matthew Henson and Louise Arner Boyd cut the captain off.

“Captain Lewis,” they begged, “not with the bear stories again!”

The Rotunda before lights out

More than 100 people gathered at the National Archives in Washington, DC, for the sleepover two weekends ago.

In keeping with the event’s “Explorer’s Night” theme, children ages 8–12 and their parents roamed the museum’s exhibit and theater levels, where various activity stations were set up. These included a craft project in which visitors created journals to document their expeditions, a board game that took players through the boons and obstacles that the members of the Corps of Discovery faced during their westward journey, a scavenger hunt in the museum’s Public Vaults, and more.Playing the Lewis and Clark board game

From dressing up as explorers for a photo shoot to determining what supplies they would need to pack for different kinds of expeditions, families were introduced to the triumphs and challenges of exploring in the West, the Arctic, and outer space.

The participants were not alone in their endeavors—Lewis, Henson, and Boyd were stationed throughout the museum to answer questions and regale guests with stories from their voyages. Later on in the evening, families assembled in the theater once more for “Reporter on the Spot,” a program that allowed children to interview the three explorers in front of a “live studio audience.”Reporter on the Spot

After listening to stories and watching Pixar shorts, visitors retired to the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom to go to sleep. In the morning, they packed up and made their way to the lower level for a special treat: chocolate chip pancakes cooked by David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States. Families then received gift bags and began their journeys home—some were local, while others had come from as far away as California for the event.

Photographs from the event can be found on the National Archives Flickr page. The National Archives looks forward to its next sleepover, also focusing on exploration, coming up this October. For more information, check out the website of the Foundation for the National Archives.


History, Heroes & Treasures is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the support of John Hancock Financial; Ridgewells Catering; Control Video; American Heritage Chocolate; Mars, Incorporated; The Coca-Cola Company; Minute Maid; and DASANI.

We welcomed teachers to Atlanta for our Primarily Teaching summer institute from July 21–25. They explored the topic “FDR and the Tennessee Valley Authority: The Controversy of Progress”—a case study within the broader Leadership and Legacy in History theme across all of our workshops this summer.

Transmission Lines and Tower, with Cows in Foreground

Photograph of Newly Built Transmission Lines, from the Records of the Tennessee Valley Authority

Participants researched in the original records of the Tennessee Valley Authority, held in the National Archives at Atlanta. The records there document the story of the TVA, one of the first New Deal agencies, from its enactment to modern activities. The Primarily Teaching educators identified primary sources suitable for classroom use, that we then scanned and posted online.

Their efforts doubled our collection of TVA-related documents on!

photographs of dwellings before and after relocation.

Some documents described family relocations as a result of the TVA’s work, including photographs of dwellings before and after relocation.

The National Archives at Atlanta will further the study of the Tennessee Valley Authority records through their symposium, Valley of the Dams: The Impact & Legacy of the Tennessee Valley Authority, on Saturday, September 20, 2014. Check out their online exhibit, including a sampling of the TVA records demonstrating accomplishments, controversies, and progress through documents, maps, drawings, and photographs.

It’s been a great summer! We have over 130 newly digitized documents on, thanks to teachers in our Primarily Teaching summer institutes!


Primarily Teaching is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives, through the support of Texas Instruments.

Last week, educators visited the National Archives at Boston to explore and examine primary sources related to desegregating Boston Public Schools. It was part of our annual Primarily Teaching summer institute.

Educators At Primarily Teaching

Educators Attending Primarily Teaching in Boston, with Education Specialist Annie Davis

These educators-turned-digitization scholars identified classroom-appropriate documents from the 1970s civil action court case Tallulah Morgan et al. v. James W. Hennigan et al. As a result of their work, teachers, students, and anyone interested in Civil Rights can now investigate 30 documents from this important case—online for the first time!

Western Union Mailgram Document

Western Union Mailgram Urging Intervention by U.S. Marshalls on DocsTeach

In 1972, parents of African American children brought a class action lawsuit alleging that the Boston School Committee violated the 14th Amendment with a deliberate policy of racial segregation. The judge found that Boston schools had intentionally carried out a program of segregation and ordered the School Committee to formulate a desegregation plan. When the committee failed to present an adequate plan, the court assumed an active role and oversaw implementation of court-ordered desegregation in Boston public schools.

Staff at the National Archives at Boston scanned these finds and we’ve loaded them all onto so that they can be used in online student activities. See them all on DocsTeach!

Individual Teachers Working at Primarily Teaching in Boston

Boston is one of four Primarily Teaching locations this summer. All of the workshops fit within the national theme of “Leadership and Legacy in History,” matching that of National History Day in 2015. Educators at each location are exploring a specific case study, with original documents in our archival holdings, that fits within this broader theme.

The National Archives at Atlanta also held the Primarily Teaching summer institute for teachers last week. We’ll report on their findings next week!


Primarily Teaching is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives, through the support of Texas Instruments.

Educators from around the country participated in our Primarily Teaching summer institute in Washington, DC, last week. They explored documents in the holdings of the National Archives that were created or received by immigration and naturalization officials from the late 1800s through the early 1900s.

Primarily Teaching DC 2014 Participants

Educators Participating in Primarily Teaching, with National Archives Staff and Interns, in the Boeing Learning Center at the National Archives

Postcards to the President urging strict immigration laws

These 1911 postcards were pre-addressed to the President so that supporters only had to fill in their name and address. The message urges strict immigration laws against the “foreign hordes.”

The teachers found and described over 50 documents relating to operations at Ellis Island, public opinion about immigration, and immigration policy reforms.

We scanned and loaded them all onto DocsTeach, our online tool for teaching with documents, so that they can be used in interactive activities for students. See them all on DocsTeach!

Washington, DC, is just one of four Primarily Teaching locations this summer. All of the workshops fit within the national theme of “Leadership and Legacy in History,” matching that of National History Day in 2015. Educators at each location are exploring a specific case study, with original documents in our archival holdings, that fits within this broader theme.

Photograph of three Italian men

This photograph was included with a letter explaining that these three Italian men were were excluded from entry and deported because they had been convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude.

Primarily Teaching is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives, through the support of Texas Instruments.