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Teaching with Primary Sources

Inquiry Kits for Social Studies and History Units

Explore this collection of inquiry kits that allows students to select a research topic of interest and evaluate themed primary sources from the Library of Congress. From life in the early American colonies to the modern-day role of the United States, the inquiry kits examine social studies/history themes and align to Maryland curriculum units.

Teacher Resources for Inquiry Kits

Select a unit below to find related topics as well as primary and secondary sources to develop a classroom research project.

Early America
(1400-1763)

a colorful painting showing a battle between Spanish and Aztecs

What was life like for Native Americans, settlers, and even pirates in the early American colonies?

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Democracy: Political System of the People (1763-1783)

a painting showing a “Virginian Loyalist” being forced to sign a document by a club-wielding mob

What were different groups fighting for in the American Revolution?

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an image of Chicago in 1820 showing Native Americans and fur trappers on the banks of a river

How did Americans come together after the Revolutionary War, and what problems did they have?

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pencil drawing of two wagons on a raft in a river

How did Westward Expansion change the lives of people who went west? How did it change the United States?

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President Lincoln's final hand-written draft of the Emancipation Proclamation

What did the Civil War do to families and towns? Why did people want change?

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sheet music and lyrics to the song “I will go West!”

What changes did Americans see in people, culture and politics?

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Challenges of a New Century (1898-1929)

color drawing of a man in a jester outfit tossing yellow newspapers in the air towards a crowd of people

What did Americans do about the war, immigrants, and changes in industry?

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  • Topic 1: Yellow Journalism and the Spanish American War
  • Topic 2: Childhood in the Early 20th Century
  • Topic 3: Conservationism and the Creation of Our National Parks
  • Topic 4: Difficulties of Urban Life: The Great Baltimore Fire
  • Topic 5: Buying America: The Birth of Consumer Culture
  • Topic 6: William Hoy, Deaf Major League Baseball Player

The United States in a Time of Crisis (1929-1945)

a photograph of a man reading a 1941 newspaper with the headline “Enemy Planes Near N.Y. from Atlantic”

What was life like for Americans during the Great Depression and World War II?

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  • Topic 1: Pearl Harbor
  • Topic 2: WWII European Front
  • Topic 3: American Life in the Great Depression
  • Topic 4: Japanese Internment Camps
  • Topic 5: The Golden Age of Radio
  • Topic 6: Teenagers in World War II: The Victory Corp

Challenges of the Post War World (1946-1968)

black and white photograph of African-American teenage boys heading to school, while being watched by a group of white teen boys

What happened in the United States at the end of World War II? What did people do to make things change?

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  • Topic 1: Civil Rights in Post-War America: The Era of Visible Resistance
  • Topic 2: We Shall Overcome: The Evoution of A Song
  • Topic 3: The Marshall Plan
  • Topic 4: Cesar Chavez and The Delano Grape Strike
  • Topic 5: Television!

Democracy Challenged (1968-1980)

photograph of a Vietnam War protest march in Washington D.C., 1971

What did Americans do during the big changes in the United States and around the world?

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  • Topic 1: Equal Rights Amendment
  • Topic 2: Vietnam War
  • Topic 3: President Nixon and Watergate
  • Topic 4: Youth Rebellion
  • Topic 5: Oil Crisis

Modern America (1981-Present)

a drawing by an elementary student in honor of America after the attacks on September 11th, 2001

Why is the United States important to the whole world?

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  • Topic 1: Activism to Fight AIDS
  • Topic 2: The Fall of the Berlin Wall
  • Topic 3: Persian Gulf War: Female Veterans' Voices
  • Topic 4: Modern Immigration Stories
  • Topic 5: September 11th