Newberry Digital Collections: Bringing Primary Sources into the History Classroom

Saturday, January 7, 2012: 2:30 PM
Sheraton Ballroom IV (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Rachel Rooney, Newberry Library
The Newberry Library is home to a world-class collection of over one and a half million books, five million manuscript pages, and five hundred thousand maps—a wealth of primary sources for secondary history teachers. Yet, finding the time to access the collections can be a challenge for busy educators. To facilitate access to this archive, the Newberry teacher programs staff is collaborating with scholars and university faculty to develop a digital library of materials from our holdings specifically for use in secondary classrooms. The digital library consists of themed collections, with sets of five to seven documents organized around topics such as “Medieval and Modern Understandings of the Crusades” and “Race and Slavery in the Atlantic World,” which complement our professional development seminars for teachers. The documents are selected based on their thematic relevance and their high impact with students, and are intended to augment currently available curricular materials in such courses as American and European history. The collections include maps, songs, political cartoons, provocative textual documents, and engravings. Each item is digitally reproduced, organized by theme, and posted on a web site for easy access and download by teachers. Along with the digitized documents, we provide teachers with an overview of the topic or theme, suggested discussion questions, and bibliographic information for each document. The digital collections offer teachers an easy way to incorporate primary sources into the classroom and to engage their students in the exciting, challenging process of interpreting history.