Presidential Primary Sources Project

History Comes Alive in Your Classroom

It’s one thing for a student to learn about Abraham Lincoln from a textbook. It’s quite another to ask presidential historian questions about Lincoln’s youth. With the Presidential Primary Sources Project (PPSP), your class can engage in live, interactive discussions and use primary source documents to understand our nation’s presidents. Transport your students to places that helped shape past presidents’ lives. It’s easy to sign up for the PPSP, a free service, which is a partnership between Internet2 and the National Park Service.

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Presidents and the Constitution, on July 12-16!

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Check out the 2021 PPSP Sessions

All programs are live at 11 a.m. ET and 2 p.m. ET on their scheduled day and applicable to students grades 4-12.

Jan. 19The Constitution and Presidential Powers: Presented by Katie Munn, Education Specialist, The National Archives.
In this program, students will use the Constitution to discover the powers of the president, including powers that are shared with or checked by the legislative and judicial branches of government. Students will analyze primary sources from the National Archives that illustrate these powers, including legislation, presidential appointments, pardons, treaties, and more! View recording
Jan. 21The Symbiotic Relationship of Slavery and Indian Removal: Presented by Patrick Martin, Schools Coordinator & Erin Adams, Director of Education, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
Students will examine the symbiotic relationship between Indian Removal in the Deep South and the growth of slavery through the use of primary sources. Recommended for grades 6-12. View recording
Jan. 26Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion: Presented by Sadie Troy, Student Learning Specialist, George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Students will step into the boots of President Washington and decide how the new president should handle a national crisis head-on. Then join Mount Vernon experts to analyze primary sources to learn more about George Washington, the challenge he faced in his leadership role, and the lasting impact of his decision on the world today. View recording
Jan. 28A Young Theodore Roosevelt: Presented by Alyssa Parker Geisman, Lead Ranger, Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace NHS
Theodore Roosevelt grew up in New York City, spending his first 13 years of his life at 28 E. 20th St. Explore 5 re-constructed rooms, listen to childhood stories, and discover how his childhood influenced the man he would become in this virtual tour with a ranger! View recording
Feb. 2Planning for the Future: President Carter and the Energy Crisis: Presented by Josh Montanari, Education Specialist, the Carter Presidential Library
On February 2, 1977, less than two weeks after assuming the Presidency, Jimmy Carter addressed the nation in a televised “fireside chat” to speak to Americans about the looming Energy Crisis. What tools and resources does the Constitution provide the Executive branch to take on such a crisis? What role do the other branches of government play? How did ordinary Americans respond to help reshape our democracy and life as we know it? This program will examine the 39th President’s response to this crisis through the lens of primary sources of the Carter Library and National Archives. View recording
Feb. 4Pioneer Life in Indiana: Presented by Paula Alexander, Park Ranger, the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
Abraham Lincoln lived in Indiana for fourteen years from age 7 to 21. Learn about pioneer life, Lincoln’s youth and challenges he faced growing up in the 1820s. By investigating primary sources, students learn about the Lincoln family, including why they came, how they met the challenges of their new home, and how they contributed to their new community. View recording
Feb. 9The Great Communicator: Presented by Mira Cohen, Director of Education, the Reagan Presidential Library
Explore document files from key Ronald Reagan Presidential speeches. Examine the origins of the term “Great Communicator” and evaluate the elements of a great presidential speech. View recording
Feb. 11Women of Kansas: Beyond Dorothy: Presented by Mitzi Bankes Gose, Director of IKEducation, the Eisenhower Foundation
From the time Kansas became a state in 1861, it has been home to women who pushed the boundaries. From well-known Kansans like Amelia Earhart and Carrie Nation to lesser-known women who fought for equality in politics, sports and the workforce, they have overcome obstacles to explore uncharted areas of the world not easily accessible to women. Dorothy was right in saying “There’s no place like home,” but the women presented in this program stepped way off the yellow brick road and blazed their own paths. View recording
Feb. 16Black Americans and the Great Depression: Presented by Elizabeth Dinschel, Archivist and Education Specialist & Jeffrey Urbin, Education Specialist, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and FDR Library
The Great Depression disproportionately affected Black Americans because of widespread racism. Segregation and Jim Crow laws prevented many Black Americans from securing housing, being hired for work, or being paid equally to white Americans. Join us as we explore how this pivotal time in American History impacted Black Americans. View recording
Feb. 18Exploring President Kennedy’s New Frontier Today: Presented by Elyze Davis, Education Programs Coordinator & Genevieve Kaplan, Director of Education, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
In his 1960 presidential nomination speech, John F. Kennedy talked about a New Frontier. His New Frontier included many challenges we still encounter today including civil rights, foreign policy, science, and education. Students will discuss the challenges Kennedy faced and determine how far we have come since 1960 and how far we have to go. View recording
Feb. 23From “Accidental President” to Political Powerhouse: Comparing the First 100 Days of Theodore
Roosevelt’s First and Second Terms
: Presented by Erik Johnson, Digital Library Cataloger & Kelly Hyland, Digital Library Cataloger, the Theodore Roosevelt Center
Theodore Roosevelt’s two terms as president began in very different circumstances, from becoming an “accidental president” in the wake of William McKinley’s death to receiving over 60% of the popular vote and over 300 votes in the electoral college. This discussion will examine how those circumstances shaped the beginnings of Roosevelt’s two terms as president, how they influenced what he was able to do during those terms, as well as how the public saw him. View recording
Feb. 25America’s Presidents Through Portraiture: Presented by Jocelyn Kho, Student Programs Coordinator & Nicole Vance, Gallery Educator, Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
How has presidential portraiture changed since the days of George Washington? The National Portrait Gallery is proud to hold the only complete collection of presidential portraits outside of the White House. This program highlights and investigates the diverse ways in which presidents have been portrayed in portraiture over the past two centuries. View recording
March 2Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself: Roosevelt’s First Inaugural: Presented by Jeff Urbin, Education Specialist, Roosevelt Presidential Library
This presentation will explore the challenges and conditions faced by President Roosevelt when he assumed the office of President on March 4, 1933. In a speech lasting little more than a half-hour he turned a nation in despair into a nation of hope and tentative optimism by squarely facing the fear that they felt and enlisting them as partners in the tremendous task of righting the sinking “ship of state.” View recording
March 4Lincoln in his own Words: A Close Look at the Gettysburg and Second Inaugural Addresses: Presented by Alex Wood, Education Programs Manager at Ford’s Theatre & Ranger Jen Epstein, Education Specialist at National Mall and Memorial Parks Ford’s Theatre
Two of President Lincoln’s Speeches are carved onto the walls of the Lincoln Memorial: the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address. Why were these two speeches selected for that place? Why do they still matter to us today? On the 156th anniversary of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, Ford’s Theatre and the National Park Service explore the historical contexts and lasting legacies of these speeches and how we remember President Lincoln. This program will include live interaction, a short introduction to Ford’s Approach to Oratory, and close reading of historic texts and primary source images. View recording
March 97th Street Challenge: Lincoln’s Commute: Presented by Joan Cummins, Program Assistant, President Lincoln’s Cottage
Lincoln used his daily commute through the heart of Civil War Washington as an opportunity to reflect on the challenges of his presidency and to learn from those he encountered along the way. In the Seventh Street Challenge, students trace Lincoln’s route from the White House, up the 7th Street Turnpike, and home to the Cottage – participating in scavenger-hunt-style challenges to find thematic objects within their own homes as they go – and build their own capacity for meaningful daily problem-solving. View recording
March 11Daughters of Freedom! Rise of the Women’s Rights Movement: Presented by David Newmann, Park Ranger, Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
This lesson guides students through the story of the rise of the women’s rights movement in the United States. Through the study of primary source documents combined with first-person living history, students will learn about the roles of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Virginia Minor, and more in shaping the early women’s suffrage movement. Furthermore, students will take away a better understanding of Ulysses S. Grant’s role in the movement and his efforts to secure equal rights for all. View recording
March 16President Clinton’s Public Diplomacy in Northern Ireland: Presented by Kathleen Pate, Education Specialist, Clinton Presidential Library
Helping bring peace to Northern Ireland was one of the most remarkable achievements of the Clinton Administration. When President Clinton assumed office in 1993, the conflict between the Protestant and Catholic communities in this province of the United Kingdom had claimed over three thousand lives. In 1998, aided in part by President Clinton’s unceasing efforts, Protestant and Catholic political parties signed the Good Friday Agreement with the British and Irish governments. This ended thirty years of violent sectarian conflict. While behind-the-scenes negotiations were critical to securing this legal settlement, most observers agree that President Clinton’s travels to Northern Ireland were crucial to the success of the peace process. This session explores President Clinton’s most visible act of public diplomacy on behalf of peace in Northern Ireland: his excursion to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas holiday season in Belfast and Londonderry on November 30, 1995 through primary source materials. View recording
March 18Life and Legacy of Ulysses S. Grant: History and Significance of General Grant National Memorial: Presented by Sophie Niesciur, Park Ranger, General Grant National Memorial
Join a park ranger to discover the legacy of Ulysses S. Grant and the significance of his final resting place at General Grant National Memorial. Learn about Grant’s contributions during the Civil War, and other notable achievements during his Presidency. Using primary sources, students will learn why New York City was selected as Ulysses S. Grant’s final resting place, and how the memorial was designed and constructed as a testament to his accomplishments. View recording
March 23The Peanut Brigade: Presented by Marle Usry, Education Specialist & Jacob Ross, Park Ranger, the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site
How did a widely unknown peanut farmer from the rural town of Plains, Georgia, ascend to the highest office? In 1976, Carter’s family and friends spearheaded a grassroots campaign that helped voters across the nation answer the question, “Jimmy Who?” View recording
March 25Truman’s First 100 Days: Mark Adams and Angela Estep, Educators at Truman Library, Truman Presidential Library and Museum
Truman came into office after only 82 days as Vice President. He was seriously unprepared for the job. This session will examine Truman’s first four months as president and the momentous decisions he faced. This month-by-month account will examine documents and artifacts that examine those decisions. View recording

Watch this clip from one of our most popular PPSP sessions below, where Education Specialist Jeff Urbin at the Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum shows students the wheelchair President Franklin Delano Roosevelt designed for himself.

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