Teacher Researchers: Utilizing Archival Primary Sources
Deborah L. Morowski
Theresa M. McCormick
This study analyzed the experiences of elementary teachers who engaged in archival research with primary sources, then used their new knowledge and materials to create elementary curriculum. The teachers located and identified primary source material then determined its reliability. They placed the source and its author in the correct historical context and evaluated perspectives and biases. By engaging in this process, teachers developed a greater understanding of primary sources, a key component of historical thinking, advancing their subject content and pedagogical knowledge. The teachers developed lessons centered on primary sources rather than using them in a more superficial manner. They came to view primary sources as tools to: develop historical empathy, advance the teaching of multiple perspectives, and construct meaning. Further, they developed meaningful lessons that not only motivate their students, but also enhance their students’ higher order thinking skills and ability to conduct historical research.
Keywords: primary sources, archival research, historical thinking, social studies, elementary, teacher education