Professional Development

Primary Sources in the Classroom

Each summer the Boston Athenaeum holds a workshop for educators on expanding the use of visual and textual primary sources in classroom teaching. The workshop, designed primarily for teachers of students in grades 5 through 12, is of value to and open to educators of all grade levels, pre-service teachers, homeschool educators, librarians, and museum educators.

Workshop participants engage in a combination of group and individual activities, including introducing the Athenaeum and its resources, analyzing primary sources for inquiry-based learning techniques, methods for discovering and selecting primary sources, and developing new strategies for employing primary sources.

The Boston Athenaeum is a Professional Development Provider as recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Licensed Massachusetts educators receive at least 20 Professional Development Points (PDPs) for completing the workshop and all assignments and assessments.

Save the date: August 1-4, 2023: Im/migration

This multi-day workshop focuses on effectively incorporating visual and textual primary sources into classroom teaching. Using the Boston Athenaeum’s collections related to the history of migration and immigration in the United States, this course instructs participants on various methods for reading and analyzing primary sources, including speeches, engravings, books, cartoons, photographs, and more. Participants engage in several activities that use primary sources and then develop lesson plans for their own activities for the classroom. By the end of the workshop, participants are equipped with several general strategies and specific activities for engaging students in critically examining primary sources.

Registration is now open, click here for more information and to register. Register before July 2 for the early bird discount price of $75.

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Past Workshops

2022: Active Citizenship

Our 2022 workshop opened with a virtual lecture featuring Henry Santana, Director of Civic Organizing for the City of Boston and Rev. Kevin C. Peterson of the New Democracy Coalition. In the following days, participants explored sources ranging from 19th-century ballots to 1960s flyers and welcomed guest lecturers Elizabeth Carroll (Program Director at Facing History and Ourselves) and Lynn Brown, K-12 Education Manager at the Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.

2021: Abolition and the Underground Railroad

Our 2021 workshop focused on primary sources related to the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad, using the Harriet Hayden Albums as a starting point. Visits to the Boston African American Historic Site and the Museum of African American History offered opportunities to consider historic sites as primary sources, and a guest speaker from Historic Newton led a session on project based learning. Dr. Kellie Carter Jackson gave the keynote lecture, “Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence.”

2020: Changing Status and Role of Women in American History, 1776-1920

As part of the Athenaeum’s year-long program series commemorating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the 2020 workshop focused on materials related to women’s history from the Revolutionary War through World War I. The workshop featured a keynote lecture, “Images in the Women’s Suffrage Movement,” by Allison K. Lange, PhD.

2019: Teaching the Civil War

The 2019 workshop used the Athenaeum’s exceptional collections of Civil War-related materials to demonstrate and allow participants to develop a range of methods for reading, analyzing, and implementing the use of primary sources.

“Primary Sources in the Classroom” is sponsored in part by Taylor Mudge through the Mudge Fellowship Program. Participating educators are designated as Mudge Education Associates at the Boston Athenaeum and receive a one-year Individual Membership to the Athenaeum.

Special thanks to Boston University Center for the Humanities for supporting this initiative through PhD Graduate Internships in the Humanities.