The flag that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner” (image from the Smithsonian Institution
While fireworks explode as we celebrate the Fourth of July, you can get a blast from the past with these great historical resources! Who isn’t moved by examining Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten draft of the Declaration of Independence, or reading manuscript letters of George Washington, or the reports of eyewitnesses to battles in the Revolution?
The Coming of the American Revolution is a freely accessible, online gallery from the Massachusetts Historical Society containing digitized primary source documents like broadsides and newspaper announcements of meetings of the Sons of Liberty. Documents are presented with extensive scholarly notes and resources for teachers and students. It is clearly organized and offers multiple searching options.
Examine three early versions of the Declaration of Independence in the online gallery of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. The first is Jefferson’s draft, which he sent to a friend before submitting it to the Continental Congress on July 1st, 1776.
Examine correspondence between members of the Continental Congress, digitized by The New York Public Library’s Early American Manuscripts Project. These collections include hand-written letters cross-indexed by names and topics. Keyword searching will find these tags.
Read transcribed accounts of battles from eyewitnesses and soldiers’ diaries of life in the Continental Army in the database American History Online accessible through the Ivy Tech Northeast Library home page. Find it in the A-Z list of databases. From the American History Home page, under “Browse Resources” choose “Primary Sources,” then under “Filter Primary Sources” choose “American Revolution” to see an index of transcriptions. This database also has maps of major battles in the War of Independence. From the Home page, under “Browse Resources” choose “Maps and Charts”, then under “Filter Maps and Charts” choose “American Revolution.”
What was life like in the Federal period after the Revolution? Check out the open database Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Papers from 1789-1924 are keyword-searchable. 1876 was the centennial year of the United States. To see newspaper articles about the celebrations, do an advanced searchof all states for the phrase centennial anniversary or centennial celebration. Choose the date range 1870-1880 for articles about the preparation and aftermath. This is an ongoing project of the National Endowment for the Humanities, coordinated by the Library of Congress. Content is being contributed by local institutions, digitized in a format suitable for keyword searching. This site also provides a directory of newspapers from 1690-present, showing library holdings; this is the expected range of coverage upon completion.
Are you decorating your house for the holiday? Symbols of the United States is a Primary Source Set from the Library of Congress, written for elementary schools but fun for all. View digitized original sources and read the history of the Liberty Bell, our flag, the bald eagle, Uncle Sam, the Star Spangled Banner, and the Statue of Liberty. This set includes a Teachers’ plan, a student guide, and a free ebook for iOS devices.