Tips for doing local history with students
- Begin your investigation into community history by meeting your town clerk or historical society president. Invite him or her to your classroom to talk about the the history they keep and to show samples of primary sources.
- Visit the historical society or town office in advance of bringing a class. There may not be enough room for a group of students. Specific materials might be stored off-site. Locating what you want before bringing students is prudent.
- Make sure students know basic ways to handle fragile materials and discuss with the archivist what rules they may have about care and handling.
- Bring a camera or scanner—these are gentler on documents than photocopiers.
- Arrive armed with plenty of research logs or have a folder of research logs on your computer so scans can be connected to the correct reference information.
- Once back in the classroom, view a document together as a class using an overhead projector. Transcribe the document together before giving documents to students.
- Have students transcribe documents in pairs. The act of transcribing helps students pay closer attention to documents. Magnifying glasses are helpful tools.
- Provide students with a graphic organizer or research log with which to gather information. The activities on this website model the types of questions one might ask students.