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Learning Center: Oregon Studies: Web-based Primary Sources

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Primary Sources on the World Wide Web
American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library, Library of Congress.  The American Memory site from the Library of Congress offers extensive primary source materials on the history and culture of the United States. In addition to online finding aids for specific documents and whole collections, the site includes a “learning page” section featuring various resources for history education.

Photo Archive, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center.With assistance from the North Wasco County People’s Utility District, the Columbia River Discovery Center, located in the Dalles, has put its 2,000-image photo archive on the web for viewing by researchers, students, and the public. The archive includes images of Celilo Falls, the Columbia Gorge, and the local communities from the mid-1880s through the twentieth century.

The Constitution Community, National Archives and Records Administration. This site is a collaborative effort by teachers and education specialists from the National Archives and Records Administration. The site provides materials for lesson plans and classroom activities that address constitutional issues, correlates to national standards, and encourages the analysis of primary sources. Arranged by chronological era, the sections list a series of documentary and visual primary sources.

Discovering Lewis and Clark, VIAs Inc. Discovering Lewis and Clark is a website created by a private, non-profit corporation (VIAs Inc.) supported by grants and donations. Its centerpiece is a nineteen-part synopsis of the expedition written by Professor Harry W. Fritz (University of Montana) and illustrated with photographs, maps, animated graphics, moving pictures, sound files and selections from the expedition journals. A list of respected contributors and consultants adds weight to the reliability of this website and its use as a teaching resource.


Oregon Trail History, End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.The End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center focuses on providing educational exhibits and programs for the general public. The center’s website provides a good introduction to the history of the Oregon Trail. Useful resources include short narratives on the trail and the overland emigrants, frequently asked questions about the trail, a bibliography on African American pioneers, and an Oregon Trail chronology.

Historical Voices, Michigan State University.  Hosted by Michigan State University, the Historical Voices project is an on-going online database featuring multi-media collections from public and private institutions. The central aim of the project is the creation of online exhibits and education materials that utilize audio files.

History Matters, Center for History and New Media, George Mason University. History Matters is a joint project sponsored by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and the Center for Media and Learning at the City University of New York. Its aim is to offer college and high school teachers a gateway to web resources and other materials for use in teaching American history.  Topics addressed include primary source analysis, internet history resources, course syllabi, teaching assignments using the internet, and examples of student work on the web.

Oregon History Project, Oregon Historical Society. Developed by the Oregon Historical Society, the Oregon History Project is an online resource for learning about Oregon’s past. The site features This Land Oregon, a narrative overview of the state’s history, a growing list of primary sources from the society’s collections, and a learning center offering educational materials for teaching Oregon history.

Valley of the Shadow, Virginia Center for Digital History, University of Virginia. This project takes two communities, one Northern and one Southern, through the experience of the American Civil War. This site features a hypermedia archive of thousands of sources for Franklin County, Pennsylvania and Augusta County, Virginia. Sources include newspapers, letters, diaries, photographs, maps, church records, population census returns, and military records.

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1775-2000, Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender, Binghamton University. Women and Social Movements offers primary source documents with introductions providing historical context. A section entitled “teacher’s corner” lists lesson plans and assignments that utilize the site’s primary source documents. In addition to a list of related weblinks, this site offers educators the opportunity to submit their own list of sources and lesson plans to enhance the collection.

The World Wide Virtual Library History Index, University of Kansas. This online resource serves as a clearinghouse for internet sites related to all aspects of historical research and education. The resources are organized under a variety of headings, such as research methods and materials, eras and epochs, historical themes, and countries and regions. Given the extensive list of weblinks, this index offers both depth and breadth in its presentation of worldwide history resources.

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