Lesson Plan

Teaching with Primary Resources: High School

Primary source documents help us learn about people, places, and events from the past.

Students examine primary source documents to reconstruct part of the history of the Lower East Side between the years 1870 and 2010.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Understand that primary source documents can help us understand people, places, and events from the past.
  • Think critically about historic records.
  • Explore change over time.
  • Explore the strengths and limitations of using primary source documents as a research tool.

Grade Levels

High School | Grades 9-12


1‐3 class periods

Related Programs


Essential Questions

  • How do historians learn about the past?
  • How can primary source documents help us to understand the past and the present?
  • What are the strengths and limitations of primary sources?


(see appendix)

  • Census Guide
  • Census Packet
  • Photograph of 97 Orchard Street
  • Loose‐leaf paper
  • Pens or pencils


  • Primary source
  • Census

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