Using primary sources teaching history is the heart of each lesson.  Students develop deeper understanding of key history concepts using primary and secondary sources.  The preparation spent in locating appropriate primary documents will be rewarded as you witness the level of engagement of your students as they interact with the past.  Additionally, history education should reflect the humanness of the time to enables students to connect the past to their own lives.  If you have searched for primary sources on the internet you know the amount of information can consume hours of time locating and evaluating each piece.  The list on this page is in NO WAY an end to the search but will provide a sound beginning for your preparation.  One suggestion, for younger students, I have found that they truly relate to pictures that reflect children, families, and people of specific time periods.   For example, my first grade students are always enchanted with Grace Bedell as well as Lincoln and Lee's children.  Using reproduced letters and family pictures captures their interest because these sources are REAL.  Mary Chestnut's diaries are wonderful but you need to modify the entries based on the level of students you teach.  Primary sources at all levels open doors for higher thinking activities, historical energy, and student dialogue that blooms.

       If you want to know more about the unlimited possibilities of teaching with primary sources and need some ready links, visit these sites.




              WHO ARE THESE WOMEN?


       Union and Confederate women did not sit on the sidelines during the war.  The first woman is Frances Clayton who disguised herself as a man and served many months in the Missouri artillery and cavalry units.  The second picture is of Rose O'Neal Greenhow, famous Confederate spy.  She was captured by Lincoln's soldiers and held in prison with her daughter.  The last picture is of Sarah Edmonds Seelye who served two years in the Second Michigan Infantry as Franklin Thompson.  In 1886 she received a military pension.  To find out more about women in the Civil War as soldiers and spies visit these web places:



                Library of Congress:  Students look at a series of document galleries to see the perspectives of slave women, plantation mistresses, female spies, and Union women during the Civil War. Ultimately, students understand the human consequences of this war for women. Lesson plans and primary sources:




                                                   By:  Leticia Burwell

       This book has been electronically reproduced.  You can read this story on line for background information, as a primary source for intermediate/middle/high school students, and for primary source pictures of the contrasting life between social classes. A wonderful read! To read this book, go to the following web site:


             Civil War Love Letters


                            Other letters:




            - Antietam

       - Civil War Letters


            Child's Diary:

            Letters from the C.W. -

             Diary of Alice Williamson (age 16, Tennessee)

            Civil War Letters:


     Where is this?

       This picture is from a battle in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  There are some wonderful sites with photography, maps, time lines, and more.  Additionally, a famous Civil War photographer's work, Matthew Brady, can be used to enhance the realism of the people, time, battles, and leaders on both sides of the War Between the States.  More links about battles are on the main menu under "Battles".

                    Matthew Brady Sites:

   The best pictures!


     Other sites for Civil War photography:

  This is a wonderful site!

Matthew Brady Bunch - Lesson plans and primary sources: Students become Civil War reporters.  Lesson plans and primary sources - Library of Congress





   U.S. Civil War Center -



   Confederate States of America Documents:


  Library of Congress: 


                     http://memory.loc/gov/ammem/ndlpedu/collections/cup/thinking.html (pictures to use for critical thinking activities.

             "What do you See?"  - Lesson plans and primary sources.  Students analyze Civil War photographs, and develop links between the Civil War and American industrialization. Library of Congress:


           "Civil War through the Child's Eye" Students use literature and photographs to view the Civil War from a child's perspective.  Lesson plans and primary sources.


National Archives:


   Archives - Alabama


         WHO SAID THAT???

        For quotations from the Civil War follow these links:

 (Stonewall Jackson)
 (Robert E. Lee)


        Sites for Printable Reproductions/Resources


    (many from time lines, maps, etc.)




                More Web Sites - One Link 

          This web site has NUMEROUS links about the Civil War.  Find information about northern and southern differences, causes, timelines, charts, maps, documents, and more! Wonderful site that was really a lot of work.  One click shopping!


          Another web site that has information about the civil war, reconstruction and more great resources.  I give this site applause!  There is a lot to see here and pictures that are perfect for classroom discussion and historical significance.  The web site is from Tennessee History for Kids.



                         WEB QUESTS


         More coming soon.. I hope that the information and links here have motivated you to incorporate more primary sources in your social studies/history lessons.  My students now ask, "Miss Froehlich, do you have the real picture?"

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