Teaching with Primary Sources

The Donora Historical Society and Smog Museum has partnered with the California University of Pennsylvania, along with the Library of Congress and their Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program.

The TPS works with an educational consortium of schools, universities, libraries, and foundations to help teachers use the Library's vast collection of digitized primary sources to enrich their classroom instruction.

Primary sources are actual records that have survived from the past, like letters, photographs, articles of clothing and music – tangible objects (see the photo to the left for examples).  They are different from secondary sources, which are accounts of events written sometime after they happened.  

The Donora Historical Society has lent the Library of Congress portions of our extensive Bruce Dreisbach glass plate negative collection of American Steel and Wire in Donora and had some of them digitized to be used as primary sources with the Library of Congress.

Students are enthusiastic about learning directly from primary sources.  Use of primary sources in instruction guides students toward higher-order thinking and better critical thinking and analysis skills.  Primary sources make instruction come alive by providing an unfiltered record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study.

The Donora Historical Society and Smog Museum is made up of people with a variety of professional backgrounds, some of which are in the field of education, and some of those specialize in history in particular. Aside from lending the Library the Dreisbach collection, the Society has also lent their expertise to develop K through 12 educational curriculums in using the primary sources as well as curriculums for other historical societies to get involved with identifying primary sources of their own for the Library.  Currently, the educational curriculums have been used in the Belle Vernon, California, Charleroi, Ringgold, Uniontown and Washington School Districts, Ave Maria in Bentleyville, Madonna in Monongahela, and St. Patrick's Catholic schools in Canonsburg, as well as Washington & Jefferson College, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

During a typical year we entertain groups of students that include:  local scout troops, school age children, middle and high school students, as well as students in college who use our Primary Sources for their History Day projects, research or merit badges.

Feel free to contact the Donora Historical Society to understand more about our Primary Sources or the TPS program in general or click on this link:  California University of PA - Teaching with Primary Sources for general information or this link:  California University of PA - Teaching with Primary Sources - Dreisbach Negatives to see what was lent to the Library of Congress.  Or stop by our Museum to see our Primary Sources in person.