Featured Primary Sources

Reform Movements

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.

Ku Klux Klan to Davie Jeems, ca. 1868 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

A Ku Klux Klan threat, 1868

Creator: Ku Klux Klan Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“A mirror for the intemperate” broadside, Boston, ca. 1830 (Gilder Lehrman C

A Mirror for the Intemperate, ca. 1830

Creator: Henry Bowen Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Silas W. Mack to Clara W. Mack, April 20, 1906. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

A perspective on the San Francisco earthquake, 1906

Creator: Silas Mack Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
[Abstinence pledge card], September 23, 1842 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Abstinence pledge card, 1842

Creator: Mathew Theobald Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
American Colonization Society membership certificate, 1833, detail. (GLC)

American Colonization Society membership certificate, 1833

Creator: American Colonization Society Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Henry Weeden to Watson Freeman, December 4, 1850 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

An African American protests the Fugitive Slave Law, 1850

Creator: Henry Weeden Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Bartolomé de las Casas, Aqui se contiene una disputa .... Vallad, Spain: Casa de

Bartolomé de Las Casas debates the subjugation of the Indians, 1550

Creator: Bartolomé de Las Casas Curriculum Subjects: Art Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Hugh Auld to Anna Richardson, October 6, 1846 (GLC07484.04)

Buying Frederick Douglass’s freedom, 1846

Creator: Hugh Auld, Walter Lowrie, and J. Meredith Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels:
Color Voters Read, broadside, 1894. (GLC09000)

Campaigning for the African American vote in Georgia, 1894

Creator: the State Democratic Party of Georgia Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Honor King: End Racism! broadside, April 8, 1968. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Civil rights posters, 1968

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics 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+
Giles B. Jackson to R.C. Burrow, June 22, 1901. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Disfranchisement of African American voters in Virginia, 1901

Creator: Giles Jackson Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
 “Don’t Buy A Ford Ever Again” broadside, c. 1960. (GLC08259)

Don’t Buy a Ford Ever Again, ca. 1960

Creator: Citizens Council of Greater New Orleans Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Eleanor Roosevelt to Addie Frizielle, May 13, 1944 (Courtesy of Seth Kaller, Inc

Eleanor Roosevelt’s four basic rights, 1944

Creator: Eleanor Roosevelt Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
First Inaugural Address of Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 4, 1933. (GLC00675)

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inauguration, 1933

Creator: Franklin D. Roosevelt Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics, Literature Grade Levels:
George Wallace to Ms. Martin, April 14, 1964. (GLC00295)

George Wallace on segregation, 1964

Creator: George Wallace Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Harriet Beecher Stowe to Prince Albert, March 20, 1852. (GLC)

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

Creator: Harriet Beecher Stowe Curriculum Subjects: Literature Grade Levels:
Herbert Hoover to Louis L. Emmerson, July 10, 1931. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Herbert Hoover on the Great Depression and New Deal, 1931–1933

Creator: Herbert Hoover Curriculum Subjects: Foreign Languages Grade Levels:
Inaugural Address of President Herbert Hoover, March 4, 1929 (Gilder Lehrman Col

Herbert Hoover’s Inaugural Address, 1929

Creator: Herbert Hoover Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Horace Greeley to Elizabeth Oakes Smith, March 1, 1851 (Gilder Lehrman Colle

Horace Greeley on a woman’s reform newspaper, 1851

Creator: Horace Greeley Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
J. Edgar Hoover, An Open Address to Students, September 21,1970. (The Nixon Libr

J. Edgar Hoover on campus unrest, 1970

Creator: J. Edgar Hoover Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
John Quincy Adams to Roger S. Baldwin, November 11, 1840 (Gilder Lehrman Co

John Quincy Adams and the Amistad case, 1841

Creator: John Quincy Adams Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Abraham Lincoln, Delay of execution for Nathaniel Gordon, Feb. 4, 1862. (GLC)

Lincoln on the execution of a slave trader, 1862

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

Literacy and the immigration of “undesirables,” 1903

Creator: Immigration Restriction League Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels:

Lowell Mill Girls and the factory system, 1840

Creator: Orestes Brownson and "A Factory Girl" Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels:
NAACP, “For the Good of America” broadside, ca. 1926. (Gilder Lehrman Collection

Lynching in America, ca. 1926

Creator: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
People’s Party campaign poster, 1892. (Library of Congress, Prints and Photograp

People’s Party campaign poster, 1892

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 7, 8, 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:
Iowa joint resolution ratifying the 13th Amendment, March 30, 1866. (GLC02631)

Ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment, 1866

Creator: the Iowa General Assembly Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Robert F. Kennedy, [Report to President John F. Kennedy regarding civil rights],

Robert Kennedy on civil rights, 1963

Creator: Robert F. Kennedy Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Enoch M. Duley, “Two Hundred Dollars Reward!” broadside, KY (GLC06377.01)

Runaway slave ad, 1860

Creator: Enoch M. Duley Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Lincoln Said Women Should Vote, ca. 1910 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Suffragists invoke Lincoln, 1910

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Susan B. Anthony, Statement of the current state of her work for equal rights fo

Susan B. Anthony on suffrage and equal rights, 1901

Creator: Susan B. Anthony Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
“I feed you all!” lithograph by American Oleograph Co., Milwaukee, c. 1875. (Lib

The Grange Movement, 1875

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

The Haymarket Affair, 1886

Creator: Dyer D. Lum Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:

The Supreme Court upholds national prohibition, 1920

Creator: Wayne B. Wheeler Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics 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:
William Jennings Bryan to I. J. Dunn, January 4, 1895 (GLC07189)

William Jennings Bryan and the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, 1895

Creator: William Jennings Bryan Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Woman Suffrage Party of the City of New York, Women in the Home broadside, ca. 1

Women’s suffrage poster, 1915

Creator: Woman Suffrage Party of the City of New York Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Mahala Doyle to John Brown, November 20, 1859. (GLC07590)

“Bleeding Kansas” and the Pottawatomie Massacre, 1856

Creator: Mahala Doyle Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
“Roosevelt or Reaction?” campaign poster, Democratic National Campaign Committee

“Reelect Roosevelt—Friend of Labor,” 1936

Creator: Democratic National Campaign Committee Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: