Friday, March 25, 2016

Educational Projects with the DPLA (Internship Week 10)

I know we’ve spent the past couple of weeks looking at the Digital Public Library of American  (DPLA)…. But….. the more I look into it, the more I discover about it, and the more I want to share it with you all!

So far we’ve looked at the background of the DPLA and the way that artifacts end up on the DPLA website. But – there’s still more! Let’s explore some of the educational projects the DPLA is involved with.

Primary Source Sets

First, there’s primary source sets. Recognizing the role it plays in connecting the community with primary sources, the DPLA has created what they call “primary source sets” to help students explore primary source material. According to the DPLA website, each primary source set “includes an overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide” (DPLA). Created, reviewed, and maintained by the DPLA’s Education Advisory Committee, these primary source sets provide students with pre-selected primary sources related to various topics. For example, if you wanted to look up primary sources related to the Civil War and Reconstruction, this is what you find:

Clicking on The Freedmen’s Bureau set, one is directed a webpage dedicated to primary source material on this particular topic. At the top of the page, the DPLA provides a brief description of the topic. Then, the page has 13 thumbnail images that users click on and are directed to the primary source material. Examples of primary sources for this set include: a letter to the assistant inspector general of the Georgia Freedman's Bureau (1868), a freedman’s work contract (1865), and an excerpt from the semi-annual report on schools for freedom (1866).

Looking at one of the primary sources, like the freedman’s work contract for example, users are provided with a digitized image of the primary source, a transcription of the source’s content, citation information, and links to the source’s host website.

What is really neat about these primary source sets is that they are designed to assist students and teachers in k-12 and higher education by connecting them with trustworthy, primary sources. According to Dan Cohen, the DPLA hopes to have over 100 of these primary source sets by this summer (

National History Day

Recognizing the importance of history, the DPLA “is proud to be a part of National History Day, a series of contests in which students present research projects framed within a general historical topic that they’ve developed using primary and secondary sources. Containing millions of primary and secondary source, DPLA is the perfect complement to National History Day” (DPLA). Thus, as part of National History Day, the DPLA provides students with research guides in addition to providing them with opportunities to win awards for the best use of DPLA source material.

Education Advisory Committee

To help facilitate the DPLA’s involvement with National History Day and primary source sets, the DPLA works with its Education Advisory Committee for direction and insight. With over 300 applicants, the DPLA’s Education Advisory Committee is comprised of 10 individuals who are involved with education in grades 6-14. These individuals are responsible for building and maintaining primary source sets in addition to planning future educational projects.

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