Education: Publications: Consider the Source:


They are virtually everywhere. They exist in every community in New York State, and they tell the rich and varied stories of human activitiy over the centuries. They are historical records -- the source of our understanding and appreciation of who we are and how we interact with each other.

Yet despite historical records' informational value and presence throughout the State, they are often overlooked, by both teachers and records custodians as an educational resource for New York's classrooms. The purpose of this book is to create a synergy between records custodians and educators that will make historical records an important part of every New York student's education.

For records custodians, whether they are Town Clerks charged with caring for the records of towns, archivists at historical societies, or librarians of local public libraries, the realization that historical records have educational potential will mean an opportunity to provide service to the community and an increased use of the records.

This should be welcomed by records custodians because the more people appreciate, value and use historical records, the more support will be available to the programs that care for those records, whether that support comes during a call for volunteers, a vote on the budget, or a fund-raising campaign.

For teachers, historical records can be an integral part of a learning process in which students discuss, analyze, think critically and develop skills that help them understand cause and effect, relationships, change, and chronology. Teachers can draw on records from the students' own community to engage them and enliven instruction.

The first three sections of this book explain some basic information about historical records: what they are, how they can be found, how educators and records custodians can work together, and how records can be used in the classroom. The fourth section of the book contains reproductions of historical records from around New York State accompanied by lesson plans and worksheets for elementary and secondary grade levels.

To reinforce the fact that historical records surround us, these examples have been drawn from a variety of places: local, state, and Federal governments; libraries; schools; archives; historical societies, and businesses.

We hope that the historical records in this book will encourage teachers to investigate the kinds of records they can find in their own community. For example, while the 1892 Census for Albany included in this book is an interesting document, teachers can find census records from their own cities, towns, and villages that would be more relevant and engaging to their students.

Similarly, the lesson plans and worksheets can be used by teachers without modification. But the countless other lessons and worksheets that can be developed from the records are limited only by a teacher's imagination. The historical records selected for this book chronicle some very significant events in the history of New York State, but they are not intended to provide a comprehensive overview of State history.

Readers will notice that the lesson plans cover language arts, economics, health, science, math, as well as interdisciplinary study. This is part of a deliberate effort to dispel a popular assumption that historical records are the exclusive domain of history and social studies.

Records custodians familiar with the historical relevance of documents are encouraged to take a second look and think about relevancy from a scientific or mathematical stand-point. They can, then, share these discoveries with teachers who are seeking historical records to use in their classrooms for many different purposes.

The Board of Regents has long believed that responsibility for education is shared by the State, the family, schools, and other organizations in each community. Interestingly, each of these entities has historical records associated with it.

It is hoped that this book will become a catalyst for viewing historical records as an important educational tool that can help teachers develop learning-centered curriculum, foster the involvement of the entire community in the education of New York's school children, and provide a basis for lifelong learning.

The publication of this book happily coincides with the introduction by the Regents of the new State Education Department Social Studies Curriculum Framework. This new framework encourages research, use of primary documents, and the development of analytical skills.

If the vision of a creative alliance between the educational and historical records communities becomes reality, the major beneficiaries will be the students of New York. Therefore, as educators across the State search for a teaching tool that successfully develops students' skills and engages their interest, we urge educators to consider the source -- historical records.

Table of Contents

Section I

  • What are Historical Records?
  • Why Do Teachers Use Historical Records?
  • Where Can Teachers Find Historical Records?
  • How Do Historical Records Enhance Learning and Skills Development?
  • How Do Historical Records Fit into the Classroom?

Section II

  • How do Teachers Find Historical Records for Classroom Use?
    • Review the Curriculum
    • Identify Repositories
    • Identify Useful Records
    • Review Finding Aids
    • Handle Historical Records Carefully
    • Identify Teachable and Useful Records
    • Consult Staff About Photocopying
  • A Word to Records Managers About Teachers

Section III

  • How Do Teachers Bring Historical Records into the Classroom?
  • Historical Records in the Classroom
    • Care of Original Copies
    • Students Work with Historical Records
    • Adapt Records to the Class and Curriculum
    • Lesson Evaluation Techniques and Suggestions
    • Document Based Questions (DBQs)
    • Ready, Set, Go!

Section IV: Historical Records and Learning Activities

  • Military Tract Map and Deeds (1791)
  • John L. Hardenbergh Inventory (1806)
  • Erie Canal Broadside (1825)
  • Animals, Horses, &c. at Auction Broadside (1837)
  • 1860 Census of Mortality in Lansingburgh
  • 1860 Census of Mortality in North Elba
  • Civil War Broadside
  • Photograph - General Ely S. Parker with General Grant (c. 1861-1864)
  • Beers Map, Hempstead, Nassau County (1873)
  • Petition from Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to the House of Representatives (1874)
  • Photograph - Theodore Roosevelt (c. 1885)
  • 1892 City of Albany Census
  • Justice's Criminal Docket (1896, 1900)
  • 1902 Diary of Fannie Jane Roberts
  • Report of Shop, Factory, Mill or Industrial Establishment (1903)
  • World War I Letter from Hamilton Fish, Jr. (1918)
  • Flyer - Remember November 14 (1919)
  • Annual Report of the M.C. Lawton Club (1928)
  • Annual Report of the Bank of Manhattan Trust Company (1929)
  • Telegram to President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1941)
  • Cafeteria Menu for the Week of January 4, 1943
  • Rally Program "Support our Boys in Vietnam! Bring them Home!" - "Respaldemos Nuestros Soldados En Vietnam!! Devuelvanlos A Sus Hogares!!" (1964-1968)

Appendix A:

Introductory Exercise: Introduction to Historical Records

Appendix B:

New York State Resources

Appendix C:

Finding Aids

Appendix D:

Associations Useful to Teachers