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Teaching with Primary Sources:
A History

Digital collections

In the early 1990s, the Library of Congress began digitizing its historic documents, moving images, sound recordings, and print and photographic media. This effort grew into the American Memory project, containing more than 100 collections of digital primary sources.

As the use of the Internet expanded and interest in the Library of Congress online resources grew, Congressman Charles Taylor created an opportunity for K–12 teachers in North Carolina called An Adventure of the American Mind (AAM). Teachers across the state participated in professional development to learn how to find and utilize the resources of the Library of Congress's American Memory website, which provides access to millions of digital sources.

Shifts and changes

Seeing the success achieved in North Carolina, Senator Richard J. "Dick" Durbin (D–IL) began expanding this project to K–12 teachers in Illinois. The AAM project began on the Southern Illinois University campuses in Edwardsville and Carbondale. By 2004, the AAM project had spread statewide to include Illinois State University.

In the fall of 2007, the AAM program transitioned from the Education and Research Consortium of the Western Carolinas (ERC) to the Library of Congress Educational Outreach Division. This transition brought about program changes, including a name change to the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources.

Classroom instruction

The Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program builds on the success of the Library's previous outreach initiatives, particularly the American Memory Fellows Program and An Adventure of the American Mind, which reached more than 10,000 teachers. TPS works with an educational consortium of schools, universities, libraries, foundations, and community programs to help individuals use the Library's vast collection of digitized primary sources to enrich their classroom instruction. Members of the TPS Consortium assist in the design of the TPS program and offer TPS professional development on a rolling basis throughout the year.