The Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov/teachers/ ) has and continues to expand resources that present United States' history to students and teachers. It provides comprehensive yet easily used tools and lesson plans for analyzing primary sources whether print, map, cartoon, photo, manuscript, music or political cartoon. The wealth and volume of material found in person and online grows exponentially every year and has since Thomas Jefferson donated his library. Our history is accessible freely to all whether citizen or not.
Newer sources of local primary source material are now available to teacher and student. This allows them to focus on their history at a more personal level in conjunction with the materials provided by the Library of Congress. New York Heritage (http://newyorkheritage.org/) is a digital collection which provides a consolidated access to historical, scholarly, and cultural materials that reflect New York State history at a local level. Digitization of historical media has been a priority in our state as time, cost of preservation and ignorance are rapidly destroying our print history. Local towns, libraries and historical museums are now finding a way to share their story throughout New York State and thanks to recent partnerships a much larger audience.
The Digital Public Library( http://dp.la/) was launched last year in response to a recognized need for a national digital library focused on local history. This idea for a digital library has been circulating among librarians, scholars, educators, and private industry representatives since the early 1990s. America has come late to this digital format. The World Digital Library (http://www.wdl.org/en/ ) was first proposed in June 2005 by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. He proposed establishing a World Digital Library to UNESCO and by 2009 was launched to the international public, with content from every UNESCO member state. This site provides primary source material in the languages of its members.
What does this mean for our students? It means that if they start with a historical hypothesis, they will have the ability to trace its roots first globally, than nationally, than statewide and finally to the local historical society that has digitized pictures of the student's ancestor.
By MaryAnn Hebert, CA BOCES and the School Library System
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