The Archives and Special Collections for Educators
- How can my class use the Archives and Special Collections?
Faculty are welcome to hold classes for the use of archival and special collections materials in the Gebbie Reading Room. Archives staff will prepare presentations, or make available material for use in a class by faculty or students. If desired, the Archives staff will also visit classes to explain the use of the collections in primary research. Please contact the Archives well in advance to arrange a mutually convenient time for your class or program.
- I'm not a faculty or staff member of Wheaton College. Can my class still utilize the Archives and Special Collections?
The Marion B. Gebbie Archives and Special Collections is welcome to be used by all educators, regardless of their institutional affiliation. However, due to time and staffing constraints, priority will be given to Wheaton faculty and staff to use of the Archives and Special Collections. For outside educators wishing to utilize the Archives and Special Collections, it is recommended that they contact a member of the staff well in advance to determine the feasibility and logistics.
- How do I reserve the Gebbie Reading Room for a class?
Educators are able to reserve the Gebbie Reading Room for classes by contacting the Archives and Special Collections directly, either by phone or e-mail. Requests to reserve the room should be made well in advance to ensure that there are no scheduling conflicts and that a staff member will be present. When requesting the room, please indicate any special needs that your class may have (i.e. television, projector, extra staff, etc...).
- How do I place an item in the Archives on reserve?
Books, manuscripts, or archival materials may be set aside for use in the Gebbie Reading Room as part of a class assignment. Materials will be available during normal open hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30). Please contact a member of the Archives staff well in advance to choose materials and make arrangements for your class reserves.
- What is the benefit of teaching with primary source documents?
Primary sources are firsthand accounts of events created by individuals during that period of time or several years later (in the form of memoirs, personal histories, and correspondences). These original records can be found in several medias such as print, artwork, and audio and visual recording. Examples of primary sources include manuscripts, newspapers, speeches, cartoons, photographs, video, and artifacts. Primary sources can be described as those sources that closest to origin of the information. They contain raw information and thus, must be interpreted by researchers.
By using primary sources students become much closer to the subject matter, as they are reading documents created during the actual time period they are learning about. Additionally, students are challenged to think in a different mindset than if they were reading secondary sources. Primary sources encourage students to become independent researchers and analyze the documents for themselves. They must answer questions such as who created the document, why was it created, and what was does it mean overall?
Using primary source documents can be a rewarding, but a very challenging exercise for students. While the challenge associated with using primary source documents can help to develop a students' research and writing skills, at first many can be overwhelmed and unsure of how to use these documents. Educators should be prepared to guide students in analyzing primary source documents. The National Archives website provides excellent resources to help with this task. Listed below are PDF links to its primary source analysis worksheets. These worksheets can be useful to both students and educators when trying to understand and utilize primary resources.
- Do you have and web resources that would help me develop my lesson plans?
Additionally, educators may wish to use web resources in developing lesson plans for visits to the Archives and Special Collections. The National Archives website has several example lesson plans that utilize primary resources. You can also find primary source content from the Docs Teach site supported by the National Archives.
- How do I structure my class visit to the archives and special collections?
Educators are encouraged to work with staff members of the Archives and Special Collections to develop and teach classes. Please contact an archivist, either by e-mail or phone, for help in planning your class visit.