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5 Websites that Offer Free Primary Sources

  • By Mikaila Garfinkel
  • February 1st, 2016 1:08 pm

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We at TCI are big fans of using primary sources in the classroom! From government documents to artwork to historical literature, primary sources are great tools for getting students to think critically and form supported claims from analysis.


With President’s Day and Black History Month approaching, it’s a perfect time to build engaging lessons. So, we’ve decided to give you some of our favorite go-to websites for free primary sources that can easily be used in any classroom.




1. The Library of Congress has a huge database of old documents, political cartoons, newspapers, and vintage images, especially for U.S. history topics. One section of the Website showcases “primary source sets” that often come with teacher guides and tips.


2. Part of the National Archives website includes digital copies of a variety of U.S. historical documents, such as the Bill of Rights, the Emancipation Proclamation, and even Thomas Edison’s light bulb patent. These digitized documents are especially effective for building challenging middle school or high school social studies activities.


3. Primary sources aren’t just for social studies. NASA offers a ton of beautiful images and transcripts from groundbreaking moments in space. These sources are perfect for creating a unique science lesson to accompany a lab investigation.


4. The Getty Museum provides historical artworks that are open for anyone to download and use. The site has a  large collection of photographs, artifacts, and ancient and medieval manuscripts that are perfect for global history lessons.



5. It’s fun to explore the Smithsonian website, which has a lot of sections that feature history, science, and technology sources. Smithsonian Source showcases a range of U.S. sources, including pieces on Native American history and the Civil Rights Movement, and even gives teacher tips on how to use them.


These are just a few of the awesome websites that offer Primary Sources. Comment your favorite way to use primary sources in the classroom!




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