What Primary Sources Teach
Lessons for Every Classroom
by Jen Hoyer, Kaitlin H. Holt, and Julia Pelaez with Brooklyn Public Library
August 2022, 170pp, 7 x 10
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-7855-8
$55, £43, 48€, A76
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7856-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

This book of adaptable lesson plans takes the guesswork out of teaching with primary sources.

Build confidence in delivering primary source–based instruction with easily adaptable, skill-based lessons that can be used in a variety of learning environments. Each lesson offers suggestions for differentiating instruction with diverse audiences, worksheets, and activity templates.

What Primary Sources Teach provides practical and transferable lesson plans focused on skill-based instruction, including step-by-step instructions; ideas for differentiation; corresponding teaching tools, such as worksheets and activity templates; and suggestions for assessment. This book includes resources that are intuitive to classroom teachers and easily adoptable by librarians and informal educators tasked with translating their current primary source-based instruction to a K–12 environment.

This book celebrates the role of primary source education and provides a wide range of educators with a shared language for articulating the relevance of teaching with primary sources. The reader will build confidence delivering primary source-based instruction as they work their way through the lesson plans, tools, and resources offered in this book. Eventually, they will feel comfortable designing lesson plans of their own for primary source–based instruction.


  • Skill-based adaptable lesson plans rooted in use of primary sources
  • A chapter that helps instructors adapt lesson plans to meet the needs of diverse learners and classroom types
  • Lessons include Common Core State Standards and Guidelines for Teaching With Primary Sources (SAA-ACRL/RBMS 2018) alignment as a resource for articulating the benefits of primary source-based instruction to K–12 instructional leads and administrators
Jen Hoyer is electronic resources and technical services librarian at CUNY New York City College of Technology. She worked as educating librarian at Brooklyn Public Library's Center for Brooklyn History from 2016 to 2021. As a core organizer at Interference Archive (Brooklyn, NY) since 2013, she has spent a significant time researching and exploring both community archives and teaching with primary sources. She is the co-author of The Social Movement Archive (2021).

Kaitlin H. Holt is the associate director of Interpretation and Programs at the Central Park Conservancy, the nonprofit entrusted with the day-to-day care of Central Park, where she oversees tour, education, community, and recreational programs. Between 2013 and 2021, Holt worked for the Brooklyn Public Library where she significantly expanded and raised the profile of Brooklyn Connections, the Center for Brooklyn History's archives education program. Under her tenure, the program was the 2019 recipient of the Society of American Archivists' "Archival Innovator Award" and 2016 beneficiary of the Archivist Round Table of Metropolitan New York's award for "Educational Use of Archives."

Julia Pelaez is an educator at the Brooklyn Public Library's Center for Brooklyn History. She holds an MA in teaching history and secondary education with a specialization in Historiography and the Great War, as well as a BA in anthropology from Bard College. She loudly advocates for the learning-disabilities community, of which she is a part, to ensure that teachers are trained to integrate engaging materials and techniques in order to create inclusive classrooms for all. She has established a graduate school mentorship program with Bard College's MA in teaching program that will prepare these new educators for working in historical institution.

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is one of New York City's most democratic and important civic institutions, serving patrons from every Brooklyn neighborhood and walk of life. Established in 1896, BPL is one of the nation's largest public library systems and currently has more than 850,000 active cardholders. With a branch library within a half-mile of the majority of Brooklyn's 2.7 million residents, BPL is a recognized leader in cultural offerings, literacy, out-of-school-time services, workforce development programs, and digital literacy. BPL is a recipient of the IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation's highest honor for museum and libraries.


This book builds upon the experience at the Brooklyn Connections and invites students and educators into a world where they can learn how to preserve and share their experiences via archiving. This book is an educator's guide to empowering students in a changing digital landscape required in any field of study.—Georgette Clarke, Brooklyn Connections Partner Teacher

Whether you are a novice educator or you consider yourself an old pro, there’s always room to grow when it comes to teaching with primary sources. Honed through years of classroom experience, the authors offer pedagogically sound inspiration for the learner in every archivist and librarian.—Jenny Swadosh, Archivist/The New School

The authors accentuate the power of using primary sources with diverse learners via engaging, thoughtful and accessible lessons in their book What Primary Sources Teach: Lessons for Every Classroom. Watch as they make research and critical thinking skills blossom in the classroom!!—Ina Pannell-SaintSurin, Special Education Teacher, NYC Department of Education

A comprehensive and modernized look at teaching research skills and utilizing archival resources for librarians, teachers, and educators. From analyzing historical maps and documents to developing a research question, this text helps facilitate the research process with all the necessary tools to prepare young people to be successful.—Rachel Chapman, MSLIS, NYCDOE School Librarian
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Accept All Cookies | Decline.