While you hunker down, why not take advantage of the digital resources available that allow kids (and adults) to take a trip into the past and explore important events and people throughout Alaskan history? All from the comfort of home.
The Alaska State Archives has developed an education section on our website which includes primary source topic pages – perfect for students to examine and analyze original records that document our state’s rich history such as the 1945 Anti-Discrimination Act or the telegrams from Governor Bone detailing the heroic Serum Run of 1925.
But don’t stop there.
Come “visit” one of our online exhibits! Learn about the Alaskan experience during World War I, explore the devastating environmental disaster of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, or be inspired by some of the women who have shaped our state throughout history. To view the exhibits click on the following exhibit titles:
Not seeing a topic that interests you or your stuck-at-home student?
Check out Alaska’s Digital Archives, an online consortium of cultural institutions across the state who regularly upload digitized materials from their historical collections! Search for a specific topic/person/place or browse the collections of museums and archives across the state.
We spend a lot of time today looking at the news, but how were people reporting on past events? The Alaska State Library, in partnership with the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, has been digitizing historical newspapers for the inclusion in the text-searchable online database Chronicling America. Through this resource you can use keywords to search people, places, and events and narrow your results to Alaskan newspapers such as The Alaska Daily Empire (Juneau) or The Thlinget (Sitka), OR see what other states were saying about us by searching newspapers across the nation!
Why take the time to look at something old?
Primary sources, historical documents, old stuff – whatever you want to call it, are really important for helping us understand where we come from and why things are they way they are today! From civics to science, primary sources are original records that can provide “students [with] a powerful sense of history and the complexity of the past” and give “unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period.” (Library of Congress)
So now that you’ve found something cool, what do you do?
When you’re looking at a document, photograph, or an object start with observations. What are you looking at? When do you think it was made? Who created it, and for what purpose? Then start digging a little deeper. If this photograph was taken in the early 1900s, why do you think it includes the people it does? How are they dressed? Do you notice any people or groups that might be missing from the photo? If you’re looking at an aerial photograph of a glacier, do you think that glacier looks the same today? Launch Google Earth and check it out!
There are tons of resources on the internet that offer activities for analyzing primary sources, the following can help you get started:
- “Teacher’s Guide: Analyzing Primary Sources” from the Library of Congress
- “Document Analysis Worksheet” from the U.S. National Archives
Questions about any of our resources? Contact Leah Geibel, Archivist at the Alaska State Archives.