The Corp of Discovery

Revealing the American West


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Introduction | Primary Sources and Analysis Tools 
Library of Congress Resources | Primary Source Set

Choose a link below to access printable PDF versions of these materials including additional information, color images and citations.
The Corp of Discovery - Revealing the American West Resource Booklet | Primary Source Set


Primary Sources and Analysis Tools

This page contains information about incorporating primary sources into learning activities and links to primary source analysis tools. Examples of primary sources relative to our topic are included in the printable version of the resource booklet and primary source set above. You are also encouraged to visit the Library of Congress Resources page above to locate collections, exhibits and more sources of digitized primary sources. Of course, you should always go to www.loc.gov and conduct your own search for primary sources that you can use in your classroom! If you need assistance feel free to contact the EIUTPS staff or use the Library of Congress "Ask A Librarian" links.

Photographs

Why teach with photographs?
Photographs are powerful tools that can activate a student’s background knowledge on a particular person, place or event and spark an interest to learn more. Teachers may effectively use photographs to present historical events, people and places in a personal way that students can connect with. The idea that photographs never lie has a long history, with many debates resting on photographic evidence. Some argue that photographs can indeed lie -- they can be doctored, staged, or faked in many ways. There is much more to a photo than the subject in the center. People, places, things and conditions in a photograph may offer a more complete view than what we see in the expression of the subject. 

Connecting to our topic The Corps of Discovery.
There is much more to a photo than the subject in the center. People, places, things and conditions in a photograph may offer a more complete view than what we see in the expression of the subject. Each image tells a different story or may invoke a different emotion. Using a photo analysis sheet, students can take a closer look at these images and form opinions about the “big picture” of Lewis and Clark’s journey. Students may discover details that were missed at first glance. Backgrounds, people, environment and more that we see in these pictures help to share a graphic story of the discoveries made by Lewis and Clark.

Analysis Sheets: The More You Look Photo Analysis Sheet | ABC Photo Analysis | Put Yourself in the Picture |

Maps

Why teach with maps?
Maps serve as representations of geographic, political or cultural features on flat surfaces. Maps are visual records of knowledge valued by people in an area and they point to belief systems as well as boundaries. Teachers may effectively use maps to illustrate concepts that may otherwise be difficult for students to understand, such as settlement patterns, trade routes, economic growth and development. Maps can be an important source of information for investigation. A map is a visual recollection of where people lived, roads and rivers passed, and natural geographic features once stood. A map represents a place that has been reduced in size, and chosen to focus on a particular theme. The results are then presented with symbols. The map reader, who may live in a different location and time, must decode the symbols and techniques used to understand the map. To read a map, students should have a foundation of information to place it within the correct geographical, chronological, and cultural contexts.   

Connecting to our topic The Corps of Discovery...
When we typically think of a map we expect outlines of states, a legend, maybe even battlefields. When we look at maps relative to the issue of The Corps of Discovery, many of the items expected to be found aren’t visible. These maps were created at a time when not much was known about North America. When you use the map analysis sheet, not every question will have an answer. Feel free to revise the form to fit your classroom or lesson.

Analysis Sheets: Map Analysis Sheet

Documents

Why teach with documents?
Diaries, journals, telegrams, and other written documents provide students with evidence of daily life during other time periods. Primary source documents include letters, journals, records or diaries that may be handwritten or typed, published or private. Documents can provide personal information about major historical events or individuals, as well as day to day life while allowing students to analyze fact versus opinion or find evidence or data not located in textbooks.  These items record people’s every day lives; event and travel ticket stubs, brochures, programs, flyers and posters. These documents are printed objects intended for one time use.  They tell us a great deal about the personality of a group at a particular point in time.


Connecting to our topic The Corps of Discovery...
As with anything we read, we use our foundation of knowledge and decoding skills to comprehend new concepts.  By putting the pieces together we are able to understand more than the words visible on a document.  Using the Document Analysis sheet students will consider the physical characteristics of a document and what they reveal about the author.  Students study the document to gain an understanding of the use of terminology, words that are crossed out or added and specific phrases or terms used.

Analysis Sheets: Document Analysis Sheet

Letters

Why teach with letters?
Stuffed in shoeboxes and drawers are countless letters that could provide insight into our nation's past. Some include eyewitness accounts of events or descriptions of personal encounters with historical or popular figures. Many letters are intentionally or accidentally thrown away, lost, or destroyed. Few historical items are as familiar as personal letters. They are plain-spoken and full of details that come straight from the writer. They teach us that the people in the past shared many of the same worries, hopes and day to day experiences and show us how those experiences differ from ours today. Compared to other written documents, letters are extremely personal and intimate communication. They provide a glimpse at the past from individual points of view, yet most letters resemble others from the same time and place. Letters are written to a specific person typically with a specific purpose and have an honest, casual quality that contrasts with media reports and official documents.

Connecting to our topic The Corps of Discovery...
Letters written both to and by explorers offer unique perspectives into topics that were important to individuals and families at that time. The date and reason a letter was written is important for students to fully understand the purpose of the letter. Using the Letter Analysis sheet students not only read the words on the page, but consider the relationship between the author and recipient and the perspective of each. In addition to reading the handwritten letter, when possible transcripts or oral reading should be provided to allow students to reflect on their interpretation.

Analysis Sheets: Letter Analysis Sheet

Why teach with documents?
Diaries, journals, telegrams, and other written documents provide students with evidence of daily life during other time periods. Primary source documents include letters, journals, records or diaries that may be handwritten or typed, published or private. Documents can provide personal information about major historical events or individuals, as well as day to day life while allowing students to analyze fact versus opinion or find evidence or data not located in textbooks. These items record people’s every day lives; event and travel ticket stubs, brochures, programs, flyers and posters. These documents are printed objects intended for one time use. They tell us a great deal about the personality of a group at a particular point in time.


Connecting to our topic The Corps of Discovery...
As with anything we read, we use our foundation of knowledge and decoding skills to comprehend new concepts. By putting the pieces together we are able to understand more than the words visible on a document. Using the Document Analysis sheet students will consider the physical characteristics of a document and what they reveal about the author. Students study the document to gain an understanding of the use of terminology, words that are crossed out or added and specific phrases or terms used.


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