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Exhibits are a great way to find relevant documents gathered in one place.  What NARA exhibits are your favorites?  Where else can you find exhibits that help your students locate documents?


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  • I really enjoyed the materials available on Eyewitness, but by far the most useful source I found was the Flickr stream.  Given that I teach almost entirely in Spanish it is incredibly useful for me to have a source of primary documents that I can use to build a narrative that does not depend on English language documents.  Documerica had some wonderful collections.  Next year I will definitely use Dennis Cowal’s pictures of the proposed route of the pipeline, which highlights some of the unique environments affected by its construction, when I teach natural resource management.  As a Language Arts teacher I found countless examples of pictures that I could use as writing prompts where I ask students to write a story that explains the picture or just to create a caption as a warm-up activity.   

  • My favorite is docs teach. I can't get over the range in age of the documents. We can swing over 100 years on the same topic and always bring back with it is relevant to us today. I also feel it can be relevant to kids because history can be a hard concept to wrap your head around. I remember the worst punishment as kid was being sent to sit on the stairs for 20 minutes. It was an eternity. Then in high school, an hour detention made you bored out of your mind. Now, I'll roll the dice on a full year in place I never knew existed. Seeing the pieces of history, the age marks, the imperfections, I think makes it more real. I'm really hoping it gives students a better sense of legacy and purpose. 

    My favorite section is the Bill of Rights because I am biased. 


  • My favorite exhibit on the NARA website was the Charters of Freedom exhibit based on the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, and The Bill of Rights. It allows the students to become interactive with these documents. I often find it hard to get the students interested in learning about the development of government and how difficult it was for the founding fathers to come to an agreement and build a long lasting government for the country. Some of the ways I've worked w/ them in the past to get them to understand the challenges they have faced was to put them into groups and have them create their own country, with their own constitution,and they needed to make their own laws but there could only be a limited amount. The students did say in the end that it was very difficult and they could see how the founding fathers did such a great job w/ the struggles they faced. 

    Another exhibit that I liked is the Way We Worked, and I think I would primarily use it when teaching the students about the industrial revolution era, and the Progressive Era when students can view certain working conditions and the types of work that people did during the early years in our nations history. 

    I found lots of interesting and usable online exhibits at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The link is below for others to check out. 


  • Lesson 9

    My students and I agreed that these sights were much better places to access documents. It was far easier to browse and the resources here were plentiful! I am especially looking forward to looking at the Our Documents Teacher Sourcebook in sections, as necessary (great feature). Our Documents: 100 Milestone Documents from the National Archives would make an awesome Mothers Day present. The documents associated with the establishment of Yellowstone National Park have some seniors talking of a road trip after graduation…

    Discussions regarding Trevon Martin have brought with it teaching moments regarding the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. Being able to download these valuable documents are instrumental in students’ quests to better understand their rights as they become voting citizens. The Charters of Freedom Exhibit makes this possible.

    Finally, The Featured Exhibits is the place I plan to start students. I am hoping to work this site as the intro to the archives and then to the movie/poster making project from our lesson six and see how the hunt works out. Documented Rights looks to be the logical site to spark many to deeper research paths. Just what I was looking for!

    Another site:  United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: ushmm.org

  • Picking only one exhibit is proving difficult.  I like both Archival Research Catalog and Docs Teach.  Both have great photos and graphics that can be used easily with Kindergarteners.  There are many pictures showing families and communities, which tie nicely into my curriculum. I love watching the students’ faces when they look at the older photos of families.  Having them list everything they see and ask questions that will tell them more about the photo has become very interesting.  The questions are getting better each week.

    Other exhibits that I have discovered that I plan on using more are:

    University of California Museum of Paleontology

    National Park Service Museum Collections



    There were many exhibits to choose from, and I enjoyed looking through them.  So I chose a few that I thought would be most applicable to my classroom setting.

    I liked Moon Shot JFK and Space Exploration because it ties the political history of space exploration and the scientific advancements of the space advancements. 


    Looking back on the American Century interested me because of the diversity of the historical time period and cross-curricular connections.


    Eyewitness offered a variety of photos for great conversation starters about historical events.



    Other places you can find exhibits are:

    National Women’s history museum  (NWHM)


    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

    University of California Museum Paleontology

  • The NARA exhibit that is my most favorite now that I know about it is the Flickr stream!  I always struggle with how to find really legitimate collections of photographs for students to use for research or as basis for projects, and after browsing through many of the photos, this exhibit will serve as an excellent resource for me and my students in the future!

    I also really like the Our Documents exhibit as well because there is a lot of great background information available for each document in the collection.

    The other main exhibits that I use in the classroom is the Teaching with Historic Places data sets and the Library of Congress American Memory (although I don't know if that is an exhibit now that I look at it).

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