Featured Primary Sources

Art, Music, and Film

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, and text to place the document in historical context. Additionally, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

“The Old Bull Dog on the Right Track,” Currier and Ives, NY, 1864. (GLC08594)

A political cartoon of Grant and Lee, 1864

Creator: Currier & Ives Curriculum Subjects: Art, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Charge of the Massachusetts 54th, Currier & Ives, 1863. (GLC)

African American soldiers at the Battle of Fort Wagner, 1863

Creator: Currier & Ives Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
"The Protectors of Our Industries," by Bernhard Gillam, February 7, 1883  (LOC)

Anti-corporate cartoons, ca. 1900

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Art, Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Blank Advice sheet for The Birth of a Nation, 1915. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Birth of a Nation, 1915

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Andrew Carnegie to Hiram Hitchcock, January 31, 1889 (GLC02896)

Building Carnegie Hall, 1889

Creator: Andrew Carnegie Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Gutzon Borglum,  National Monument Mount Rushmore Black Hills South Dakota..., S

Building Mount Rushmore, 1926

Creator: Gutzon Borglum Curriculum Subjects: Art Grade Levels:
Enlistment poster for the Arizona Civilian Conservation Corps., September 24, 19

Civilian Conservation Corps poster, 1938

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Art, Economics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“Official Civilian Defense Insignia, United States Citizens Defense Corps,” US O

Civilian defense on the home front, 1942

Creator: The Office of Civilian Defense Curriculum Subjects: Art, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
De Soto's Discovery of the Mississippi, 1858

De Soto’s discovery of the Mississippi, 1541

Creator: Johnson, Fry & Co. Curriculum Subjects: Art, Geography, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Illustration from Uncle Tom's Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe sends Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1852

Creator: Harriet Beecher Stowe Curriculum Subjects: Literature Grade Levels:
John P. Sousa to John W. Hughes, March 12, 1930. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

John Philip Sousa critiques modern music, 1930

Creator: John P. Sousa Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
The Landing of Henrick Hudson, based on a paint1857. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Landing of Henrick Hudson, 1609

Creator: Martin, Johnson & Co Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Samuel F. Smith, America (My Country Tis of Thee) August 4, 1886. (Gilder Lehrm

My Country, ’Tis of Thee

Creator: Samuel F. Smith Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Our Victorious Fleets in Cuban Waters, 1898. (GLC03534)

Our Victorious Fleets in Cuban Waters, 1898

Creator: Currier & Ives Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

Patriotic Postal Covers: “Lincoln & Davis in 5 Rounds,” 1861

Creator: J. H. Tingley Curriculum Subjects: Art Grade Levels:
Abandoned farm in the Dust Bowl, Coldwater District, near Dalhart Texas, photogr

Photograph of an abandoned farm in the Dust Bowl, 1938

Creator: Dorothea Lange Curriculum Subjects: Art, Economics, Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“Americans All” poster, War Manpower Commission, Washington DC, 1942. (GLC09530)

Preventing labor discrimination during World War II, 1942

Creator: War Manpower Commission Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
The Algonquian village of Secotan in present-day North Carolina, an engraving ba

Secotan, an Algonquian village, ca. 1585

Creator: John White Curriculum Subjects: Art Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Temperance cartoon: The Drunkard’s Progress, 1826

Creator: John W. Barber Curriculum Subjects: Art Grade Levels:
“High Bluff, Black Buttes,” from The Great West Illustrated by Andrew J. Russell

The Great West Illustrated, 1869

Creator: Andrew J. Russell Curriculum Subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Grade Levels:
Joseph Rumshinsky, “Mamenu” or “The Triangle Victims,” 1911. (GLC06225)

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, 1911

Creator: Joseph Rumshinsky Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Foreign Languages, Literature, Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels:
“Remember Dec. 7th!” Office of War Information, 1942. (GLC09520.08)

World War II: Commemorating Pearl Harbor, 1941

Creator: Office of War Information Curriculum Subjects: Art Grade Levels:
America the Beautiful, signed by author Katharine Lee Bates, ca. 1925. (GLC)

“America the Beautiful,” 1893

Creator: Katharine Lee Bates Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: