Briscoe Primary Sources Tied to the 7th Grade Texas History and U.S. History TEKS

Authors: Rachel Hernandez-Eckert, Education Specialist, Social Studies and Catherine Bell, Intern, The Archives of American Gardens, Washington, D.C.

I had the teacher “warm fuzzies” a few months back.  You know, that really proud feeling you get when one of your students has an amazing moment of learning or accomplishment.  You feel really proud to think that you had a little something to do with that.  My moment came when I visited the UT iSchool Open House in May to see UT graduate student, Catherine Bell, present her Capstone Poster Session.  I have been working as an adviser to Catherine since fall 2013 for her project with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.  She was looking for guidance on how to make primary sources accessible for classroom teachers using the Briscoe’s resources.  In a nutshell here’s what she did:

1. She studied the Social Studies TEKS. (Hooray for the non-teacher who actually studied our standards!)

2. With the help of the Briscoe staff, she looked for primary source resources at the Briscoe that could be possibly tied with the standards for 7th Grade Texas History and the high school U.S. History course.

3. She worked with the Briscoe staff to digitally link these resources to the standards.

Although this is an oversimplification of the work that was done, it took her a long while to do all this.  Now, these resources are available to you.

Read about her journey and obtain resource access below —

I am Catherine Bell and I have recently graduated with a Master of Science in Information Studies (MSIS) from the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Information. If you are thinking, “master of what?” or “what is an information school?” let me briefly explain. The School of Information, or iSchool as we lovingly call it, is where future librarians and archivists learn the best ways to present information to anyone and everyone. The iSchool really strives to make the world a better place, starting with knowledge and information management. With my degree, I am officially an “information professional.”

Now, what do I have to do with social studies or Region 13? As part of my graduate experience, I completed a Capstone project instead of writing a thesis.  A Capstone is a practical experience lasting one semester during which an iSchool student develops something for an organization of their choosing.  I worked with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History to help them find a way to promote primary resources and also connect with teachers, an audience that is often forgotten by many archives. The planning for this project occurred around the time Region 13 Social Studies Specialist, Rachel Hernandez, reached out to the Briscoe Center to see what they could offer local teachers. I began working with Amy Bowman (a photo archivist) and Margaret Schlankey (head of reference services) to envision a resource which would be useful for both the Briscoe Center and Texas teachers. They connected me with Rachel who was able to bring in the education aspect of the project that I was lacking. I have no teaching experience, and wanted to make sure any resource created would be practical and easy to use for teachers.

My project consisted of familiarizing myself with the TEKS, using the Briscoe’s Digital Media Repository to search their collections, and consulting with educators throughout the development of the websites created. The Briscoe has a great tool, which is accessible to anyone with the internet, called the Digital Media Repository (DMR) and is a database of their digitized materials. Now this does not include absolutely everything the Briscoe has but it is still a huge database.  The DMR can be found here, and you can use basic search terms to look for archival materials. My project worked to take out some of the foot work for anyone unfamiliar with materials housed at the Briscoe and simultaneously created a link to the TEKS for teachers. After some deep thinking of how to best present these connections, we chose to take the exact language found in the TEKS and create hyperlinks to DMR search results. So, for instance, the 7th grade geography standard for maps contains a hyperlink to the DMR search results of “Texas maps.”

This was done for 7th Texas History and U.S. history since 1877.  The website can be found here along with a description of how to use the resource.  Click on each respective course link to get the drop down list of standards.  

Another aspect of my project was to present and promote this resource in various ways. Each time I share this resource with educators and even fellow archivists, people get excited. There is an excitement for sharing primary resources, an excitement for creating similar projects at other archives, and the realization that this is a local resource. The staff at the Briscoe is excited to have another amazing resource to promote their collections, and is always eager to answer any questions that come their way.  As extensive as we tried to make this resource, it only showcases a fraction of the materials that can be found at the Briscoe.  I encourage each of you to not only share this resource with your fellow teachers, but to check out the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History as well.

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Catherine Bell


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