DocsTeach is one of my go-to recommendations for anyone who teaches U.S. History at a middle school or high school level. The site offers a dozen tools that you can use to create interactive history lessons based on primary and secondary sources. To help you build those lessons DocsTeach provides thousands of primary and secondary source artifacts. You can search for those artifacts according to keyword, historical era, or artifact type.
In many cases your search for artifacts on DocsTeach will lead you to small collections of related documents, images, maps, videos, or audio files. Case in point, DocsTeach recently announced the release of five new collections of artifacts. Those collections are WWII Newsmaps, The Slave Trade, Foreign Affairs Political Cartoons, The 1918 Flu Pandemic, and WWII Foreign Posters.
I’m always drawn to interesting uses of maps so this morning I spent some time exploring WWII Newsmaps collection. This collection contains 35 newsmaps published by the U.S. Army between 1942 and 1946. Each newsmap featured 5-10 numbered, short news articles that corresponded to numbers displayed on a map on the same page. The purpose of newsmaps was to provide a visual, geographic context for the stories about WWII.
Applications for Education
If you teach any U.S. History lessons, you owe it to yourself to spend some time getting to know the features of DocsTeach. I particularly like the document analysis and “Big Picture” activities that DocsTeach offers. The document analysis activities are excellent for helping students identify the key items in a primary source document in relation to the greater context of the time in which it was written. The Big Picture activities help students piece together multiple sources to understand the causes and effects of historical events.