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This coming fall, our partner National History Day (NHD) will offer graduate coursework for teachers for the first time: Introduction to Project-Based Learning through the National History Day Curriculum Framework.

It’s part of their expansion of professional development for Social Studies teachers, English teachers, and School Librarians.

National History Day Logo

In an effort to reach a larger number and broader scope of teachers across the nation, NHD is offering online professional development – webinars and hangouts designed to help teachers learn from their homes and classrooms.   These online learning opportunities – developed in partnership with the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the National Endowment for the Humanities – has found an audience of eager teachers and librarians seeking professional development on their schedule.

- from “Crafting Innovative Professional Development” on the The Voice of NHD

The online course, running from September 15 to December 15, 2014, will provide practical advice as well as pedagogical strategies.  Teachers will earn three graduate credits from the University of San Diego while creating classroom-ready materials customized to the needs of their students. At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Analyze the reasoning behind project-based learning and its connections to Common Core Curriculum and C3 Framework,
  • Develop an action plan to implement NHD into their specific classrooms,
  • Create classroom materials that can be used at each stage of the inquiry process, and
  • Develop a portfolio of research resources to help them develop connections to assist their students with the research process.

Learn more on NHD’s blog or register by Friday, August 15, 2014, at http://www.nhd.org/onlineeducation.htm.



teacher_appreciation_berryman

Teacher’s Bonus by Clifford Berryman, 05/01/1920, U.S. Senate Collection (NAID 6011608)

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day. Join us in celebrating our teachers for all of their hard work throughout the year!

Our Education Specialists work year-round to provide teachers with free resources for teaching with primary sources. From DC to our locations and Presidential Libraries around the country, we create and share lesson plans, learning activities, field trip and professional development opportunities, and multimedia and web content. We’ll continue to share our new and existing resources here each week. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more information on our resources.

Make sure you take the time to #ThankATeacher today!



When the First Congress met in New York City 225 years ago, they faced the immense task of turning the words of the newly ratified Constitution into action. They were aware that what they did and said would set the tone for the new government, and could affect how much people supported it. How they decided to address the President would be of considerable importance, and this issue precipitated a weeks-long dispute between the House of Representatives and the Senate. In question was whether or not the President of the United States should be referred to with a title, as was the practice amongst the aristocracy in England and other European nations.

This debate in Congress can help your students get a sense of how this moment was a turning point for the new nation. Although the Revolutionary War officially ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, many historians argue that it wasn’t until the First Congress put the Constitution into effect that the Revolution really ended. It was at that point that the nation shed many of the remaining vestiges of colonialism and monarchy. The decision on whether or not the President should be called by a title helped to ultimately turn the nation away from monarchical traditions and towards a democratic republic.

House Report on the style or titles proper to be annexed to the office of President and Vice President of the United States, May 5, 1789; Records of the U.S. House of Representatives. View full page.

House Report on the style or titles proper to be annexed to the office of President and Vice President of the United States, May 5, 1789; Records of the U.S. House of Representatives. View full page.

Two congressional documents, one from the House of Representatives and one from the Senate, can illustrate this debate for your students. Before sharing them, ask your students a few questions about titles of nobility:

  • What is a “title” for a person?
  • Who has a title that you’ve heard of?
  • How does a title affect your perceptions of a person?

Tell the students that prior to the inauguration of George Washington, the First Congress debated whether or not they should call him by a title of nobility. The House of Representatives thought that there should not be a title for the President. Many members said they believed the idea was dangerous to republicanism and a little ridiculous. Project the image of the Report of the House Select Committee on titles so that students can read the one sentence report: “That it is not proper to annex any style or title to the respective styles or titles of office expressed in the Constitution.”

Senate Journal showing report on titles for the President, May 14, 1789; Records of the U.S. Senate. View full page.

Senate Journal showing report on titles for the President, May 14, 1789; Records of the U.S. Senate. View full pages.

Project the Senate Report on titles, and direct students to discover the Senate’s recommendation. Ask a student to read aloud the title that the Senate proposed to give the President: “His Highness the President of the United States of America and Protector of their Liberties.” A majority of senators felt that a title was necessary for the United States to obtain the esteem of foreign nations and to enhance the respectability of the President. Ask students how they feel about this proposed title for the President. How would they feel using this title for a recent or current president? Would such a title make them think or feel differently about the President? How?

Senate Journal showing resolution on titles for the President, May 14, 1789; Records of the U.S. Senate

Senate Journal showing resolution on titles for the President, May 14, 1789; Records of the U.S. Senate. View full pages.

The Senate ultimately agreed with the House to forego a title, but they did so very reluctantly, as students can see in the resolution passed by the Senate. The resolution clearly stated the Senate’s belief that a presidential title would be beneficial to the nation, but that they would let it go and follow the lead of the House for the purpose of “preserving harmony.”

In a nation founded on the idea expressed in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal,” Congress ultimately decided that this applied to the President, too. Calling the President “His Highness” would have elevated that position above the citizens he represented. This idea proved to be in opposition to the egalitarian republican ethos that was cementing in the First Congress. The debate in Congress over a title for the President indicated the direction that the new government would take—towards a government of the people and by the people.

The Center for Legislative Archives is marking the 225th Anniversary of the First Congress by sharing documents from this formative time via Tumblr, Twitter, and Education Updates blogs. Follow #Congress225 for more documents you can use in your classroom. 



Whether someone developed a signature style or signed groundbreaking policy into law, National Archives records can illustrate the many ways people have “made their mark” on history.

And now teachers and students can uncover these signature records on special themed DocsTeach page related to our exhibition Making their Mark: Stories through Signatures.

MtM

Populated with dozens of recently added records and activities of remarkable  achievements, this special DocsTeach page is a portal to these records and their stories.  These new additions to DocsTeach include documents signed by such famous figures as Jackie Robinson and Johnny Cash and from such infamous individuals as John Wilkes Booth and Adolf Hitler.

There’s even a letter requesting an autographed photo of President Eisenhower from a young Dave Ferriero–the current Archivist of the United States!

MtMSearch

In addition to documents signed by the famous or infamous, records highlighting signature looks and signature works are also part of Making their Mark.  The styles of past Presidents are highlighted through FDR’s fedora and Ike’s Eisenhower Jacket.   Iconic photographs from Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams highlight what set them apart and gave them a singular vision.

Felt Hat Belonging to Franklin D. Roosevelt

Felt Hat Belonging to Franklin D. Roosevelt

Jobless Men Lined up for the First Time in California to File Claims for Unemployment Compensation

Jobless Men Lined up for the First Time in California to File Claims for Unemployment Compensation

Some surprise stories are uncovered in these records as well.  For example, did you know that Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a letter of recommendation for Walt Whitman?  Or that before she was a famous chef Julia Child worked for the OSS?  Or that Richard Nixon once applied to be an agent in the FBI?

From Walt Whitman’s Personnel Folder from the Department of the Treasury

Richard M. Nixon’s Application for Appointment

Visit www.docsteach.org/home/making-their-mark today to find more remarkable documents!

 



The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was one of the most consequential pieces of civil rights legislation ever enacted by Congress. By the 1968 election, areas covered by the Voting Rights Act averaged a 25 percent increase in the number of registered African American voters. The new voters caused a shift in the political base of the South and contributed to a nationwide realignment of the political parties. The new voters also elected increased numbers of African American representatives to Congress.

Americans vigorously exercised their First Amendment right to petition their government when Congress formulated the Voting Rights Act during March and April of 1965. The House Judiciary Committee solicited many points of view, and considered citizens’ petitions, witness testimony, statistical data, and other information throughout their deliberations. The two documents on display here are letters from citizens received by the Committee—one is in favor of voting rights legislation and the other is against.

Letter from Mrs. E. Jackson in favor of voting rights, March 8, 1965; Records of the U.S. House of Representatives. National Archives Identifier 2173239

Letter from Mrs. E. Jackson in favor of voting rights, March 8, 1965; Records of the U.S. House of Representatives. This is also available in DocsTeach.

Several documents from the records of the Committee which reflect multiple perspectives are part of a lesson plan on the Voting Rights Act created by the Center for Legislative Archives. The lesson puts students in the shoes of the members of the Committee as they deliberated the bill, and asks them to evaluate the evidence which led to the Voting Rights Act. The lesson is appropriate for grades 7-12.

Tables of data relating to race, voting, and voting tests submitted by the Attorney General to the House Judiciary Committee during hearings on the Voting Rights Act, March 18, 1965.

Tables of data relating to race, voting, and voting tests submitted by the Attorney General to the House Judiciary Committee during hearings on the Voting Rights Act, March 18, 1965.

The first activity in the lesson orients students to the issue of voter registration in Alabama counties located near the scene of the 1965 voting rights demonstrations in Selma. This activity instructs students to examine and analyze a table of data indicating the numbers of whites and non-whites who were registered to vote in several counties. Students will be able to determine that even though some locales had a majority non-white population, a very small percentage—even zero—had been registered to vote. They will also notice that some places had white voter registration that exceeded 100%. After helping students analyze these numbers, a class discussion can draw out and define why many people believed that there was a problem for non-whites who wanted to vote in certain places and why the federal government proposed a law to address it.

In the second activity, students are put in the shoes of members of the House Judiciary Committee as it considered the proposed Voting Rights Act in March and April of 1965. The lesson includes five pairs of documents that represent different types of evidence that was presented to the committee during their deliberations. Students analyze the documents to determine how and to what extent they, might have been persuaded by each piece of evidence.

Letter from George Neu to the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee against the Voting Rights Act of 1965, March 26, 1965, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives. National Archives Identifier 2173238

Letter from George Neu to the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee against the Voting Rights Act of 1965, March 26, 1965, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives. This is also available in DocsTeach.

Using the information they have gained in the activities, students can reflect upon the balance of constitutional powers over voting rights that exists between the federal and state governments. Did the Voting Rights Act strike the right balance? Pose the guiding question to students: Did the evidence presented to Congress in 1965 support the position that Federal Government action was justified to ensure African Americans’ right to vote?

The education programs at the Center for Legislative Archives aim to make historical records of Congress available to help classroom teachers integrate the history and workings of Congress into American history and government classes. More lesson plans are available at the Center’s web page.

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