DocsTeach Lesson 2 Finding Primary Source Documents The Student’s View
As you may have noticed in Lesson 1, searching for National Archives documents on the National Archives website is not the easiest of tasks. This is because documents are filed in a way that may seem unusual to those accustomed to searching in a library. • In the case of the National Archives, we file documents by 1) agency, 2) subdivision of the agency (creator), 3) record series (a group of related records in the subdivision), 4) box number (sometimes there are thousands of boxes), 5) file unit (perhaps a file folder) and THEN 6) by item (the document itself). • Primary source documents (as opposed to manuscripts and other written material) may reflect elements of many topics, some of which may not even have been thought by anyone before. Therefore, it is not only completely impractical to separate documents from their creators, which would take them out of context, but also impossible to organize them by topic. In addition, the US Census, for instance, may be viewed in one way by genealogists and quite another by a statistician and even another way by a historian or cultural anthropologist, so the records are even difficult to meta-tag with sufficient keywords for everyone who might be using them.
DocsTeach was developed to • 1) make the search for primary sources easier for students and teachers alike by focusing on historical eras and educational topics that are frequently used in most, if not all, classrooms • 2) provide an additional tool for teachers to use in classroom instruction and evaluation
Searching for DocumentsWhat students see • When you open DocsTeach • You and your students have immediate access to ALL of the current 6600 records that are available on DocsTeach. • This number of documents increases daily. • The records are retrievable by keyword or time period or by browsing the entire list. • NOTE: When you practice this part of the lesson, please do not register if you have not already done so. If you are registered, please log out. I would like you to first take a look at how STUDENTS see the website.
www.docsteach.org There are several places to find primary source documents on DocsTeach
Opening page - bottom Documents on Special Topics
Opening page - bottom Recently Added Documents
You can access Browse and Search from ANY page in the DOCUMENTS section, including most results pages.
The “Browse” button takes you to a page that is very similar to this one. In the “Historical Eras” section, you can choose documents by eras related to national teaching standards.
You can sort the results (Watch for this number to increase as NARA adds more documents.)
You can narrow the results By “recommended” documents By record type
Search for documents Like any other search, anywhere you use keywords from the subject you are researching. Note: On ANY National Archives web page, it is always better to only use one or a few words to describe what you are looking for.
Looking at documents themselves Some documents are short and the description doesn’t tell you much.
Others include multiple pages. You can see them all by clicking on the document image or “print document and details.”
Citation information A minimal citation (one that will get you back to the document on the National Archives webpage) is all included on this page. Citation: Czar’s Ratification of the Alaska Purchase Treaty, 6/20/1867; General Records of the United States Government; National Archives Identifier 299810; http://research.archives.gov/description/299810 (to come up with the web address, just add the Identifier number to http://research.archives.gov/description/)
More document information For more information about the document, the group of records in which it is filed, or the agency creating the document click here.
Federal Agency Record Type Physical location of original document Document date Group of records the original document is filed with … must have in order to locate the original!
If a PDF if available, it will provide the fastest and clearest reproduction of the image(s). Otherwise, open each image. Then download to a file on your computer or copy and paste the image to an appropriate program, such as Word. Formatting of documents is not standardized.
Provides all the information for a complete citation, one that will get you to the original document if you were to walk into the facility of the National Archives where it is held or were to request by mail. Full citation: Czar’s Ratification of the Alaska Purchase Treaty, 06/20/1867; Perfected Treaties, Compiled 1778-1945; Record Group 11: General Records of the US Government, US Government, 03/04/1789 -; National Archives at Washington DC.
Email it to yourself or print. Printing sometimes produces unusual sizes. Best to download or cut and paste the image. An email will include all the documentation information and a link back to the document.
You can see that the website seems to encourage everyone to register … however, it is not necessary for your students to do so. In fact, registering actually opens up processes to students that are really meant for teachers, such as opening the tools for making teacher-prepared activities. It is OK if they register, but it’s not very helpful for them. Registration: Teachers preferred
A more efficient way for students to save their documents, is Open a blank word-processing or spreadsheet document in a separate window. Click on a document they want to save Student view
3) Copy the unique web-page address 4) Paste onto their word-processing or spreadsheet page.
Student saved documents This approach provides them with a document list that will take them to the document and provide a complete citation. It also places National Archives documents together without having to put them into a teaching activity.
Questions • Email or call me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-336-5151 • Serious issues: Email the DocsTeach specialist, email@example.com