Resources for Teaching about the Constitution
September 17 is designated as Constitution Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. The National Archives is the permanent home of the U.S. Constitution.
Here we’ve compiled some resources from the National Archives and some of our partner organizations that you can use for teaching about the Constitution.
- A featured page for teaching about the Constitution, from DocsTeach, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives.
- “The Charters of Freedom” online exhibit about the creation and history of the Constitution, housed at the National Archives.
- Exploring the United States Constitution eBook, connecting the billions of records in the holdings of the National Archives to the principles found in the United States Constitution.
- The United States Constitution course on iTunes U
- Teaching Six Big Ideas in the Constitution
- Founders Online
- Primary Sources related to the U.S. Constitution. from congressarchives on Tumblr
- And don’t forget past U.S. Constitution-related posts here on todaysdocument!
Thinking about using our records in your classroom this year? Check out our newest YouTube video that focuses on Teaching with the Records of Congress!
The Center uses records in its custody to educate the public about the processes and institutions of representative government and to provide resources that teach citizens about the role of voting and representation in our national history and civic life today. In our educational programs, the staff of the Center uses hands on work with facsimiles of historic records to bring the work of Congress into the classroom.
DocsTeach named in Top Ten Most Interesting Government Apps!
The National Archives and Records Administration constructed this app to enable you to learn more about our nation’s history and interact with primary source documents. You can choose different topics and challenge yourself, or your classroom, with an activity. This is a great tool for teachers eager to find a new way to engage their students. It is compatible with iPad.
Calling All Teachers!
The Center for Legislative Archives has a new home on DocsTeach! You can use this special page to find historical documents and teach about representative democracy, how Congress works, and the important role that Congress has played throughout American history.
On DocsTeach you can discover thousands of primary sources and learning activities related to history and government. The activities help students practice historical thinking by: focusing on details, making connections, finding a sequence, mapping history, weighing the evidence, and seeing the big picture. If you are a registered user, you can borrow from and modify an ever-expanding collection of activities, and create new ones for your students using the online tools.
Learn about the Constitution on iTunes U!
It’s almost Constitution Day! This September 17th marks 225 years since the signing of the United States Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. At the National Archives we’re commemorating the occasion throughout September with special programs, online media, and learning materials.
If you’re interested in brushing up on your knowledge of the Constitution, try our brand new United States Constitution course on iTunes U.
In it you’ll discover our multi-touch book for iPad – Exploring the United States Constitution – as well as blog posts, articles, videos, documents, and activities in the DocsTeach App for iPad. The course can be accessed for free with the iTunes App for iPad or from http://itunes.apple.com/us/course/united-states-constitution/id559398926
For information about special events and public programs at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, to access teaching and learning resources, and to connect with the National Archives through social media, visit our Constitution Day page.
Congress in the Archives will feature a monthly staff post on our blog. November’s post comes from Center archives specialist, Christine Blackerby.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is generally considered the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever enacted by Congress. By the 1968 election, areas covered by the Voting Rights Act averaged a 25% increase in the number of registered African American voters. The new voters caused a shift in the political base of the entire nation, realigning the political parties and sending large numbers of African American representatives to Congress for the first time.
When the Voting Rights Act was under consideration in Congress in March and April of 1965, Americans vigorously exercised their First Amendment right to petition their government. Citizens’ petitions, witness testimony, statistical data, and other information came before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, which solicited many points of view during consideration of the bill. The two documents on display here are letters from citizens received by the committee—one is in favor of voting rights legislation and the other is against.
Several documents from the records of the Committee, which reflect multiple perspectives, are part of a lesson plan created by the Outreach staff of the Center for Legislative Archives. The lesson puts students in the shoes of members of the Committee as they deliberated the bill, and asks them to evaluate the evidence which led to the Voting Rights Act.
The education programs at the Center aim to make the historical records of Congress available to help teachers integrate the history and workings of Congress into American history and government classes. More lessons are available in the lesson plan section of our website.
Letter from Mrs. E. Jackson, 03/08/1965, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 2173239)
Letter from George Neu, 03/26/1965, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 2173238)
Mr. Elmo Monster goes to Washington
In honor of Sesame Street’s forty-second anniversary, we are featuring Mr. Elmo Monster’s testimony before the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. He appeared before the Subcommittee on April 23, 2002 with Joe Lamond, the President and CEO of the International Music Productions Association. Mr. Monster and Mr. Lamond were testifying on behalf of music education. Elmo said he was very nervous to appear before the Subcommittee. Maybe it was the suit?
Elmo, the first and only non-human to testify before Congress, shared his learning experience with the Subcommittee. He explained,
Elmo learned all kinds of things about music, like anyone can make music. The whole world is full of music … music helped Elmo learn the alphabet. If it wasn’t for the ABC song, Elmo would be lost, people.
You can read Elmo’s testimony by clicking on the scans above. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did!
Printed hearing, 4/23/2002, Records of the U.S House of Representatives
Welcome to Congress in the Archives! This blog has been designed to give you an inside look at the Center for Legislative Archives and the historical records of Congress that we hold. We will feature documents on significant events in history as well as some of the unexpected treasures in our holdings, suggest lesson ideas for teachers, share our researchers’ experiences, and introduce our staff. We hope that you let us know what you like, and what else you would enjoy seeing featured here. We look forward to hearing from you!
“Congress Comes to Order,” by Clifford Berryman, Washington Evening Star, 12/2/1912, U.S. Senate Collection, Center for Legislative Archives (ARC 306178)