We Can Help Teaching with primary source materials
Teaching with Primary Source Materials
Contact Special Collections Instruction
Our collections exist to be used. When students work directly with primary source materials, historic photographs, and documents that are old or unique, they discover an excitement and passion not generated by textbooks. Primary source documents can inspire, but they also teach about learning to verify sources, tracking down connections, finding evidence from content and from physical clues.
Our collections are open to everyone, not just those associated with the University of Oregon. While we do not have an age limit, we find that students in high school and above are able to apply research strategies most effectively. Please contact us beforehand if you would like to bring younger students.
While some of our materials are fragile, we also have many items that can be handled by students. All use is monitored by Special Collections and University Archives staff.
We have a classroom separate from the main Paulson Reading Room with state-of-the-art technology where our staff can present to your class on how to perform research using primary sources. We can assemble and present collections on specific subject areas for such presentation. For examples, please explore our web site, especially our online exhibits and our subject guides. We have rich resources from the 19th and 20th centuries, many of which have not been explored. Your students could make important discoveries. If an instructor would prefer to do his/her own presentation with our materials, we can help you search for and choose appropriate items. Please keep in mind that our classroom is available only for classes that present Special Collections and University Archives materials.
Example: The image at right shows the first page of a letter written by Gertrude Bass Warner in 1924. Founder of the UO art museum, Mrs. Warner traveled widely in Asia and actively promoted multiculturalism, helping to establish the Asian Studies program here at the University of Oregon. Written in 1924, this letter narrates her adventures in Peking, when the city was caught between two Chinese armies. From this letter, we were able to identify half a dozen unlabeled lantern slides in the Warner collection, which turned out to be photographs she had taken as her refugee train crawled through the trenches to safety.
How to Request a Presentation
Please contact us at least two weeks in advance to schedule an instructional session, by fax (541-346-1882) or e-mail. We will need your contact information, the proposed date and time of your class, the number of attendees, the subject of this visit, and general background about your class.
A copy of the class syllabus or a statement of what you hope the students will gain from the session would be helpful. If it fits within your class goals, we can also help you identify an exercise for your students to complete. There is no substitute for when students request and use materials on their own.
Preparing Your Students
We take great pride in encouraging use of our collections. However, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of our collections. We will provide a general orientation, but you should also prepare your students in advance with the following information:
- Turn off your cell phone.
- For the most part, our materials are irreplaceable.
- No pens, food, drink, or chewing gum are allowed in the Paulson Reading Room.
- Backpacks, briefcases, and computer cases/covers are not allowed in the Paulson Reading Room. We have lockers where researchers may secure personal items. Laptops are allowed in the Paulson Reading Room
- All materials must be used in the Paulson Reading Room.
- Registration is required to use materials.
- Respect the fragile nature of our materials and handle them with care.
- Some materials such as photographs or codices require special handling.
- Remove one folder from a container at a time.
- When using manuscript materials, please make sure the document goes back into the correct folder and that the folder goes back into the correct container.
- Respect other researchers by keeping noise to a minimum.
- To display, exhibit, publish, or download any of our materials, you must obtain our permission
Visiting Special Collections
We are located in the Knight Library, at the corner of 15th Avenue and Kincaid Street. If you are coming from off-campus, be aware that parking can be difficult when classes are in session. The Paulson Reading Room is on the second floor on the north side, in the 1937 portion of the building.
Please recommend that students arrive early as it will make locker assignment for storage of personal items more efficient. There are restrooms in our hallway. Encourage students to wash their hands before they handle rare materials. A curator at the desk will direct you to the classroom.
We will have a short form for you to complete.
Please help us prepare for student projects by reading the Class Assignments page and filling out the Assignment Plan (a PDF) for us. This provides us with a copy of the assignment, the date due, your contact information, and a list of the materials or types of materials that your students will use. We will maintain copies in our own files for our staff to consult, which will ensure that we provide the best service possible to your students.
For projects that involve multi-media (such as a documentary class) will need to complete a contract (a PDF) for our files. We can duplicate our materials in many formats, provided the materials are not too fragile or under copyright restriction. Students will have to pay for duplication services. Students should select the items to be copied carefully, and give us enough time to avoid rush fees.
Your students' work is of value to us, and to other researchers. If you receive papers that are well researched and written, please consider advocating that your student submit the paper or project to the Libraries' Scholar's Bank.
Maintained by: N. Helmer, email@example.com