New Smithsonian Primary Sources in U.S. History: Lively, First Person, and Real

Posted on May 26, 2016

Primary sources have been called snippets of history – small windows that show a picture of one moment in time. A letter, a memoir, a personal account – each provides a unique, often personal perspective. And when they are put together in a meaningful way, they create a full and rich picture of historical events, people, and developments while supporting national learning standards.

By directly engaging with artifacts and individual records, students can explore, analyze, and delve more deeply into a topic.  In addition, primary sources help students:

  • Develop critical thinking skills by examining meaning, context, bias, purpose, point of view, and more.
  • Pursue independent learning as they construct knowledge by interacting with sources that represent different accounts of the same event/topic.
  • Understand how viewpoints and biases affect interpretation of history.

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Commemorating VE Day with the Smithsonian

By Jennifer Albers-Smith

This Friday marks the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) day.

My grandpa was hardly more than a boy when his brother (my great-uncle) was shipped off to fight in WWII. He enlisted in the navy and served as a fireman aboard the U.S.S. St. Lo. On October 25, 1944, his ship was hit by a Kamikaze, and he went down with the ship.

I recently asked my grandpa if he still remembered his brother all these years later, and he started to cry. He says it’s like no time has passed at all. He still remembers the telegram sent to his parents letting them know their son had been declared missing in action. He remembers the telegram that arrived a couple months later to officially declare his death, and the letter from one of his shipmates remembering the great man my great-uncle was.

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Take a Ride Back in Time with Smithsonian

By Jennifer Albers-Smith

How great is Amazon Prime? While I appreciate the expedited shipping, far and above, my favorite thing about it is all the opportunities to watch full TV series, both new and old.

Sure, it’s no secret I’m a big fan of Downton Abbey or that I love period dramas. So when Amazon Prime recommended the BBC production Lark Rise to Candleford, I jumped on the opportunity to fall in love with a new show. The series features four seasons of absolute greatness, and I love it. It takes place in the late 1800s and follows the story of how a postmistress (yes, mistress, not master) takes the small town of Candleford by storm.

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Behind the Scenes of Smithsonian Collections Online

By Jennifer Albers-Smith

We couldn’t be more excited about the products we’re launching through our partnership with Smithsonian.

When I first heard that we were going to partner with Smithsonian, I was ecstatic. Who wouldn’t be excited about getting to work with the largest museum and research complex in the world?

Everyone thinks of their childhood visit to the Museum of American History or the Air and Space Museum when they think of Smithsonian, but it’s really so much more.

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