U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and U.S. Representative Bart Gordon (R-Tenn. 6) today said that the $300,000 Library of Congress grant to Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) will unlock for Tennessee students the Library’s vast collection of original, historical documents through the Internet-based Teaching with Primary Sources program.
“Learning history and civics is the best thing we can do to ensure that younger generations understand what it is to be American,” said Alexander, the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, which has jurisdiction over Library of Congress funding. “Having access to original historical documents – such as the personal papers of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln – is key to an accurate study of history, and this program will make this exciting form of learning easier for middle Tennessee.”
"Primary sources bring history to life like no textbook or lecture ever could. And through this program, MTSU will have access to thousands of historical documents and materials, providing teachers and their students with the opportunity to gain fresh insight and understanding on the important people and events that shaped the course of our state and country," Corker said. "I appreciate the Library of Congress for committing these valuable resources to Tennessee to enhance the teaching of history in our schools. I will continue working with my colleagues on ways to expand educational opportunities for Tennesseans."
“Tennessee certainly has a rich history, and teaching our state’s history in the classroom can be greatly enhanced through music, art and cultural artifacts,” Rep. Gordon said. “I’m happy MTSU has been chosen for this grant from the Library of Congress. The university’s Center for Historic Preservation has proven to be adept at interpreting our state’s history and providing the public with rewarding experiences at historic sites throughout Tennessee. Tennessee’s schoolchildren will have an opportunity to benefit from MTSU’s involvement with this program.”
Teaching with Primary Sources fosters collaborations between the Library of Congress and an educational consortium of schools, universities, libraries and other institutions to help teachers make use of the Library of Congress’s collection of digitized primary sources. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently require the use of primary source materials in their state teaching and learning standards.
Primary sources are actual records that have survived from the past, like letters, photographs, articles of clothing and music. The primary sources found at the Library of Congress include published and unpublished documents and recordings like books, correspondence, newspapers, advertisements, maps, laws, pamphlets, memoirs, narratives, speeches, public records, and music; as well as visual arts items like photographs, paintings, cartoons and films. Approximately 10.5 million of these are digitized and accessible by computer. Three examples of primary sources available online through the Library of Congress are the complete Abraham Lincoln Papers; the complete Thomas Jefferson Papers, which consists of approximately 27,000 documents, the largest collection of original Jefferson documents in the world; and the Continental Congress Broadside Collection, which includes material relating to the work of Congress from 1774 to 1788.
MTSU will work with a number of state cultural institutions to create materials that will support subjects taught about the history of Tennessee, including: the Age of Jackson; the Civil War and Reconstruction period; the Depression Decade and World War II; and the Civil Rights Movement. MTSU will collaborate with, among others: the Tennessee Council for the Social Studies, The Hermitage (home of President Andrew Jackson), the James K. Polk House, and the Tennessee State Museum.