Christy G. Keeler, Ph.D.

American Revolution and Primary Source Documents

American Revolution and Primary Source Documents: A Teaching American History Grant Module
American Revolution and Primary Source Documents






Recommended Children's and Pedagogy Literature: American Revolution and Primary Sources

Jan 21, 2011


I recommend the following books for use when teaching the era of the American Revolution to students in intermediate-level grades:
If You Lived At The Time Of The American Revolutionby Moore, KayKids Discover: American RevolutionKids Discover: 1776Using Primary Sources in the Classroomby Macceca, S. (Ed.)Big Book of Social Studies (Elementary School)by Zike, DinahBushnell's Submarineby Lefkowitz, Arthur S.The Declaration of Independence: The Story Behind America's Founding Document and the Men Who Created Itby Gragg, RodGeorge vs. George: The Revolutionary War as Seen by Both Sidesby Schanzer, RosalynGive Me Liberty: The Story of the Declaration of Independenceby Freedman, RussellRevolutionary John Adamsby Harness, CherylGeorge Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War by Allen, ThomasYankee Doodle America: The Spirit of 1776 from A to Zby Minor, WendellSybil Ludington's Midnight Ride (On My Own History: Grades 2-3)by Amstel, MarshaJohnny Tremain (DVD) by Walt Disney Home EntertainmentPaul Revere's Ride (Graphic History)by Niz, XavierWinter at Valley Forge (Graphic History)by Doeden, MattYou Wouldn't Want to Be at the Boston Tea Party!: Wharf Water Tea You'd Rather Not Drink by Cook, PeterJohn, Paul, George & Benby Lane Smith (especially good for primary-level learners)Revolutionary War Days: Discover the Past with Exciting Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes (American Kids in History Series) by King, David and Cheryl Noll

Resources on the Revolutionary War

Sep 13, 2010


I recommend the following websites for primary source and other content about the American Revolution era:Movies of Early America: Primary Source Material from 18th Century America: "Famous Moments in Early American History" within the Archiving Early America website provides a wealth of information surrounding the Revolutionary War. The site is rich with videos, pictures, maps, primary sources, and biographies.American Revolution Animated: This site uses animation to show troop movement during high-profile battles of the Revolution.

Women of the Revolutionary Era

Nov 10, 2009


In a response to a colleagues' posting during this module, DeLores McInnis prepared the following:

"In Lesson 4 from The Way We Saw It – The American Revolution in Illustration and Art, pg. 17, the picture depicting Mary Ludwig Hays preparing a cannon to be fired would be a great attention grabber for third graders to find out more about women’s roles in the American Revolution. Using the format from What Questions Do We Ask of the Past – Thinking Like a Historian you can write third grade appropriate questions for each step of the process. The primary resources you listed will definitely give students background knowledge to be successful in their discoveries and they research and participate in real experiences (e.g., sewing bee).

I did some of my own research to find primary resources for this topic. There are a vast amount of images you can access through Google that show the different roles women played during that time period.

Video Clips about Women and the Revolution

Women of the American Revolution
Women of the American RevolutionRepublican Motherhood: Where did they fit after the Revolution?/Raising patriotic sons/Being a mother becomes a political actWomen of the American Revolution: Brief historiesTribute to Women in the American Military: From the American Revolution to the present The Betsy Ross Home Page: Take a virtual tour of her house Petticoat Ladies – Perform the lives of women in the American Revolution: Free lecture video

Additional Resources for Teaching about Women and the Revolution

A great website of resources for kids on the American Revolution:

I even Googled liberty cloth and got this resource. It’s a readers theater play from Scholastic Printables titled Daughters of Liberty—Spinning for Liberty (4 – 8 grades). You have to subscribe to this site to print it. It could possibly be rewritten for third grade readers. This activity would help build oral literacy and reading skills."

Another idea would be to contact a local chapter of the Daughters of Liberty to come to your classroom to do a presentation.

Revolutionary Women and Bloom's Taxonomic Levels

All of these primary resources would lend themselves to all the level of Bloom’s taxonomy:


List jobs women had during the American RevolutionName some famous women of the American RevolutionWhat made women fight during the American Revolution?


Compare and contrast mothers then and now.


If you were to interview a women of the American Revolution, what questions would you ask?


What did you discover about the women of the American Revolution.


Predict what would of happened in women did not take on the jobs of men during the American Revolution.


Do you agree with the actions of the women of that time: boycotting, creating jobs, going to war, demanding an education, etc.? "

Sample Foldable: Jessica Parker

Nov 2, 2009

Sample Foldable: Linda Deibel

Nov 2, 2009

Sample Foldable: Terry Hedge

Nov 2, 2009


Terry Hedge's Foldable

Sample Foldable: Sheri Aragon

Nov 2, 2009

Sample Foldable: Stephanie Panchek

Nov 2, 2009

Sample Foldable: Christina Deitrick

Nov 2, 2009

Lecture: Michael Green — "Nevada during the American Revolution"

Oct 31, 2009


Click here to access Dr. Michael Green's lecture titled "Nevada during the American Revolution."

Content Lecture: Drs. Green and Beachley (10/28/09)

Oct 31, 2009


Click here to listen to an audio of the lecture delivered by Drs. Green and Beachley during the October 28, 2009 session (Session II).

Sample Foldable: Heather Rampton

Oct 27, 2009

Sample Foldable: Kris Huffman

Oct 27, 2009

Margaret Loveall's Foldable

Oct 27, 2009

Sample Foldable: Verena Bryan

Oct 27, 2009

Sample Foldable: Laurie Nicholas

Oct 27, 2009

Activities for Working with Primary Source Documents

Oct 14, 2009


The Primary Source Learning offers a list of primary source-related instruction strategies.

The National Archives and Records Administration introduces myriad strategies for use with primary sources in this informational sheet. In it, they recommend and offer suggestions for using primary sources in the following ways: a focus activity, brainstorming activity, visualization exercise, project inspiration, dramatic presentation activity, writing activity, listening activity, creating a documentary, cross-curricular activity, current events activity (what is past is prologue), drawing connections activity, integrating geography activity, small group hypothesis activity, self-reflective exercise, and assessment.
Using Primary Source Sets

To identify groups of primary sources used for teaching specific content and developing inquiry projects, visit

Analyzing Primary Sources

There are excellent resources for having students analyze a variety of primary source types (e.g., cartoons, photographs, audio recordings, art). Visit
"Found Poems"

Have students work with a single teacher-selected primary source document. Students will review the document highlighting words that are important to them. They then cut out twenty of those words (of their choosing) that are the most meaningful for them. They then make a poem by arranging these words into their own creation.
Note: You may use the primary source set within the Community Center called "Found Poems" for this activity.
Primary Source Overviews

Create a page-long overview including basic information about specific artifacts. Information may include:

“Author’s Point of View”
“Resource Overview""What Do You See?”
“Thinking about the Picture” (e.g., suggestions for seeking more information, links, other resources, provide assignments for working with the resource)
“Using Your Imagination” (e.g., Ask questions like “What would happen if…? “Would it be better if…?” and offer suggested strategies for answering the questions such as creating a timeline)

Basically, provide detailed educator-friendly data about given artifacts in a primary source set. Note, this idea is based on the EduPress sets titled "Exploring Primary Sources."


Sort It Out

Provide artifacts and have students start with a question (e.g., “How have resources and materials changed the way we live and travel?”). Using that question, have students separate them into a pre-defined number of categories. Students have to determine category names and subcategories within the main categories and fit each artifact into their self-selected categories.


Scavenger Hunt

Ask students to engage in a scavenger hunt where they simply seek the types of resources available in the collection(s). Examples would include newspapers, pictures, videos, statistics, broadsides.


Life in a Box

Create a packet of six artifacts relating to the life of one individual. The items should be scaffolded in a method leading from more to less obscure and each should be numbered from one to six. Pass around each artifact one time at a time. Have students try to determine the name of the person in the box in the least number of artifacts. When done, have students write how each item relates to the person on the box.


Article: "Thinking Like a Historian: A Framework for Teaching and Learning" by Nikki Mandell

Oct 1, 2009


I recommend the article "Thinking Like a Historian: A Framework for Teaching and Learning" by Nikki Mandell. The article, appearing in the April 2008 issue of OAH Magazine of History, outlines the theoretical reasons for teaching students why they should engage in historical inquiry and provides guiding scaffolds for assisting students through the process.

An American Revolution Bulletin Board

Oct 1, 2009


After seeing this bulletin board example in the April 2008 edition of OAH Magazine of History, I saw the potential for modifying it for use when teaching about wars. What a wonderful way to have students learn from while creating a bulletin board!

Teaching Students: "What Are Primary Sources?"

Sep 12, 2009


I recommend "If Pictures Could Talk, If Walls Could Whisper: Revolutionary Practices that Engage Students in History," a slideshow presentation delivered by Delise Sanders at the National Council for History Education Conference in 2008. The conference slides introduce teachers to methods for helping students develop an understanding of an appreciation for primary sources. Using many student-made and literature-based examples, Sanders suggests starting with student projects focusing on their own lives, moving toward local history, and eventually studying broader national historical topics.

Battle Ground Nevada--Using Library of Congress Primary Sources in the Classroom

Jan 18, 2009


Getting to Know Lincoln through Primary SourcesAssignment Desription
Project Focus: Inquiry Question Related to Abraham Lincoln

Participants will work in groups of five to develop an inquiry question relating to Abraham Lincoln. They will identify primary sources available on the Library of Congress website to answer their inquiry question. These primary sources will then be made available to students in the form of a primary source sets accompanying the inquiry question. Each group will create a blog entry including the following items:
Links to a collection of five artifacts includingOne official documentOne informal documentOne pictureOne other artifact type (e.g., audio, video, 3-D artifact)One other artifactInformation for each artifactText of all text-based artifactsKey vocabulary terms related to the artifactAn artifact descriptionContent of artifactAuthor's/Creator's point of viewContext of artifact (e.g., timing, politics, social climate)Student questions for engaging students in higher level thinking about the artifactStudent suggestions for imaginative thinking (e.g., "What would happen if...?," "Would it be better if...?") and suggested strategies for answering the questions (e.g., create a timeline)

Video: Introduction to the Library of Commerce Collections

Jan 17, 2009


This video was developed by the Library of Congress to introduce patrons to their resources.

Example Student-Made Foldables

Dec 11, 2007


The pictures below were taken of foldable projects completed in Mr. Lee Thompson's seventh grade U.S. History class at Fertitta Middle School.

Sample Foldable: Joseph Walker

Sample Foldable: Dictators of WWII

Sample Foldable: The First Five Amendments

Sample Foldable: The 13 Colonies

"Bunker Hill Bunny"

Dec 6, 2007


Click here to access "Bunker Hill Bunny," the video Dr. Green had hoped to share during our last class session.

Lecture: DeAnna Beachley - Women of the American Revolution

Dec 3, 2007


This audio lecture was recorded by Dr. DeAnna Beachley to teach about the women of the Revolutionary Era.

Women of the Revolutionary Era — Dr. Beachley (Audio Lecture)