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Teachers Page

Edna St. Vincent Millay Portrait of Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Photographic print by Carl Van Vechten.
[January 14, 1933]

Creative Americans: Portraits by Carl Van Vechten, 1932-1964.
Library of Congress.


The Teachers Page is a resource designed to help teachers and other educators incorporate primary source materials, including those in American Memory and the Library's other digital collections, into the classroom. The Teachers Page includes lesson plans, primary source sets, and other resources related to poetry which are listed below.

Teachers Page Poetry Resources

Presentations and Activities

Presentations look across the American Memory collections to investigate curricular themes. They include historical background, helping to tell the story behind the theme.

Lyrical Legacy

Lyrical Legacy helps teachers explore eighteen American songs and poems from the digital collections of the Library of Congress. Each song and poem is represented by an original primary source document, along with historical background information and, in many cases, sound recordings and alternate versions.

Activities offer an interactive, "hands on" experience and focus on a specific topic, rather than broad themes. They require teacher direction, but invite students to participate.

Making Connections Through Poetry

In this activity, students analyze primary source documents from the Library of Congress, then share their understanding through the illustrated poems they create.

Collection Connections

Review the Arts & Humanities section of each Collection Connection that has teaching resources for possible ideas about how to incorporate American Memory collections into a literature or poetry lesson.

Lesson Plans

Poetry lesson plans featured on this page include:

1900 America: Historical Voices, Poetic Visions

(Grades 10-12) Students work in groups to express themselves creatively through a multi-media epic poem.

Found Poetry with Primary Sources: The Great Depression

(Grades 6-12) Students explore poetry using American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 collection of American Memory, which covers personal stories collected by the Works Progress Administration. In particular, students write "found poetry" based on the stories found in this collection.

Japanese American Internment

(Grades 5-8) Students learn what the World War II experience was like for Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. This lesson includes a poetry activity.

The New England Fishing Industry: Sea Changes in a Community

(Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12) Students study photographs, maps and interviews with two New England fishermen of the early 20th century, construct "found poetry", and research in Thomas to understand legislation restricting the fishing industry.

NOTE: A number of other Web sites serve as excellent gateways to free lesson plans. These include:

Primary Source Sets

Sets of selected primary sources on specific topics, available as easy-to-print PDFs. Also, background material and tools to guide student analysis.

American Authors in the Nineteenth Century: Whitman, Dickinson, Longfellow, Stowe, and Poe

A selection of Library of Congress primary sources exploring the topic of American authors in the nineteenth century, including Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Edgar Allan Poe. This set also includes a Teacher's Guide with historical context and teaching suggestions.

Found Poetry

Using primary source texts on a variety of subjects, students select words to retell the historical content in poetic form.

The Harlem Renaissance

Photographs, authors' drafts, sheet music, an audio recording, and newspaper articles let students explore the artistic and literary legacy of the Harlem Renaissance.

Teaching with the Library of Congress Blog

Discover and discuss the most effective techniques for using Library of Congress primary sources in the classroom. Teaching strategies, outstanding primary sources, lesson plans, teacher resources, and current thinking on effective classroom practice are all open for discussion. Multiple blog posts discuss ways to incorporate poetry into the classroom.

Themed Resources

Exhibitions, special presentations, lesson plans and other materials gathered from throughout the Library of Congress for selected curricular themes.

Literature and Poetry

Access historic documents related to literature and poetry including selected Walt Whitman notebooks, digitized rare books, and presentations on a variety of literary figures ranging from Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley to Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemingway.

Search Terms

A list of terms that may be useful when searching for items related to this poetry and literature in the Library's digital collections.


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  April 5, 2016
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