Empowering Students 

with Primary Sources​

Build classroom engagement 

through engaging firsthand accounts.

How can primary sources be leveraged to promote student engagement?
Watch this video for an inspiring discussion where historian and professor Rebecca Jo Plant and student researcher Cayla Regas shed light on the importance of primary sources in studying women’s history and social movements in the United States. Despite her major in Psychology, Cayla’s journey proves the interdisciplinary transformative impact of primary sources as she took a Civil War class with Rebecca Plant, immersing herself in the authentic voices of Northern women during that era, to create a document project published in Women and Social Movements in the United States: ‘Do not toss this letter away’: Women’s Hardship Petitions to the U.S. Federal Government during the Civil War.
"I was reading these letters one after another. It was like I was communicating in some way with these real people from the 1860s, just looking at my 21st-century laptop."
Student researcher, Cayla Regas
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Promote student engagement

Throughout the video, you’ll explore how document projects are a tool to engage students and how primary sources bring history to life, fostering active learning and critical thinking. Cayla will share her personal connection to historical figures through the women’s letters, showcasing the power of primary sources in understanding the past.

The video covers key topics including:
  • The significance of primary sources
  • Document projects as innovative strategies for primary source integration into teaching and learning
  • Inspiring advocacy by bridging the gap between historical and contemporary social issues
  • Practical approaches for leveraging primary sources to promote student engagement and foster connections.