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Teachers see history anew with original records at the National Archives

Texas Instruments scholarships make it possible

Oct 31, 2008

WASHINGTON DC (October 31, 2008) - Fifty-five teachers from eleven states across the country experienced an up-close view of history over the summer. They were this year's participants in the National Archives' highly acclaimed Primarily Teaching Institute, which provides in-depth training on using primary source records for teaching. The training has become more accessible to more teachers in recent years thanks to a scholarship program of the Foundation for the National Archives that was underwritten again this year by a $20,000 gift from Texas Instruments.

"We are delighted to continue our support for teachers who attend this valuable training institute," Paula Collins, Texas Instruments vice president of government affairs, said. "It is one of the many ways we have partnered with the Foundation for the National Archives to make the wealth of historical treasures in the National Archives more accessible to the public and to educators across the country."

Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein said, "The popularity of Primarily Teaching remains strong three decades after we first offered the training at our headquarters in Washington, D.C. Now the institute is offered nationwide at several regional archives facilities and at presidential libraries. The scholarships from the Foundation for the National Archives, funded by Texas Instruments, have helped us extend even further the reach of this award-winning program."

Primarily Teaching was developed by agency education specialists to give teachers access to the rich resources of the National Archives and to demonstrate how these materials can be used in the classroom. Participants learn how to conduct archival research, develop lessons based on primary sources, and present the records in ways that sharpen students' skills and their enthusiasm for history, government, and other subjects.

This year's participants chose to explore such topics as the Civil Rights Movement, westward expansion, Japanese-American internment, and the process for minting currency.

Texas history teacher Elizabeth Chapman was excited to learn about immigration through the records at the National Archives Southwest Region in Fort Worth, where she attended the institute. She developed a lesson for her seventh-grade class in Houston using copies of "declaration of intent" forms. The descriptive data on the forms - including a petitioner's native country, age, occupation, physical characteristics - she hopes will help her students connect with and understand the motivations of the early immigrants to Texas.

Chapman's new enthusiasm will likely lead her back to the records center in Fort Worth for additional research and lesson planning. She said, "Primarily Teaching was fantastic. I wish every history teacher could attend because the program has the potential to energize teachers and students and help them move away from the rote memorization of history facts to a more meaningful look into the past."

"Every year, we see educators using the resources of the National Archives in new and innovative ways, and programs like Primarily Teaching have a multiplying effect on this phenomenon. One teacher's enthusiasm for the records of the National Archives will spread to dozens of her students and colleagues each year, who will cause the excitement to continue to spread," said Tom Wheeler, President of the Foundation for the National Archives. "For more than eight years our partners at Texas Instruments have played an integral part in helping to make that happen. We are very grateful for their continued support."