As an early American historian at Messiah College I have been blessed with an abundance of riches. Since my arrival eight years ago the library has acquired some of the most important databases for the study of early America. We currently have digital versions of the Evans Early American Imprints, a collection of over 36,000 books, pamphlets, and broadsides published in America prior to 1800. We also hold the “Shaw & Shoemaker” collection, which takes Early American Imprints up through 1819. In addition, we have Readex’s “Early American Newspapers” (1690-1876) collection and just added a supplement to the Evans collections which includes additional published material from the Library Company of Philadelphia.
I am always looking for creative ways to use these collections with my students. That is why I was pleased to read Heather Cox Richardson’s recent post at the blog of the Historical Society. Richardson describes an assignment that gets high school and college students to engage with primary sources. I will let her explain:
The assignment is to take one day’s newspaper from nineteenth-century America and draw a portrait of the time based on that document. Students can use other primary and secondary sources to learn about the subjects discussed in the newspaper, but their focus is on that one day.
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