Professional Development 

Workshops for Educators from 

The National Archives

The Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives has conducted educator professional development workshops for more than a decade. The National Archives Foundation is working with the Archives to dramatically expand these workshops to provide educators with tools and strategies to teach students about the Constitution and key moments in U.S. history.

For more information or to learn how to become a partner organization, contact Jim Doumas, Deputy Executive Director, at

Each workshop provides teachers with the resources that they request most:

  • Access to content apolitical and fact-based information from master teachers (which may also include expert scholars, historians, professors, authors)

  • Workshop on how to engage wide range of learners using primary source documents

  • Guidance on how to create safe discussions on potentially divisive topics in civic life

  • Standards-based materials and activities using primary sources that are ready to plug into their curriculum immediately

  • Address topics that teachers have reported having the most difficulty teaching

Professional Development Workshop Offerings 

Teaching Six Big Ideas in the Constitution

Summary: This lesson engages students in a study of the Constitution and the major concepts of government that underlie it. Students collaborate to create a visual “map” of the Constitution and then analyze the Charter’s main ideas in a variety of ways, including analyzing primary sources and debating core constitutional principles.

In Their Own Words: Women’s Petitions to Congress

Summary: Students analyze women’s petitions to Congress from five eras to identify the issues women petitioned about, place the petitions in the context of their time, and understand the ongoing work of women to achieve full equality under the Constitution.

Civil Rights -The Impact of Racial Discrimination on Black American Lives in the Jim Crow Era 

Summary: Students analyze documents from the holdings of the National Archives to assess the impact of legalized racial segregation on the lives of Black Americans from 1944 – 1960.

Congress and Civility by Design

Summary: The First Congress established civility as a core value of American government. Studying documents from this period reveals how congressional processes and the rules for debate promoted civility.

Digital App: Congress Creates the Bill of Rights

Summary: This digital app (available for iPad and as a pdf) enables students to explore how the First Congress proposed amendments to the Constitution in 1789. Its core is the Senate Markup of amendments passed by the House. Students study primary sources to learn about the chronology, issues, people, and processes that shaped the Bill of Rights.


The Legislative Process

Summary: Students collaborate to complete an oversized board game/flowchart in a lesson illustrating the process of how a bill becomes a law, and they analyze historic congressional documents to identify what happens at each step along the way.

What Congress Does and Why it Matters

Summary: Students collaboratively assemble a visual model depicting twenty congressional actions in a lesson that teaches the concepts of representation, separation of powers, and the constitutional role of Congress. They strengthen their understanding by analyzing primary sources and congressional actions. 

eBook: Representing Congress: Clifford K. Berryman’s Political Cartoons.

Summary: Representing Congress is an eBook that presents 39 political cartoons and additional learning resources to engage students in discussing Congress’ constitutional role, its processes, and its defining features. It features political cartoons by Clifford K. Berryman who was one of Washington's best-known and most-admired cartoonists from 1896 to 1950. 

Native American Professional Development Workshops

Programming features new workshop offerings for locating and using Federal records related to American Indians and Alaska Natives.


Teaching Treaties: Primary Sources Related to Treaties with Native Communities

Summary: Educators learn how to incorporate primary sources related to American Indian treaties into lesson plans. Activities and resources from the National Archives include an overview of the National Archives' treaties digitization project, and explore how to include discussions of American Indian treaties by looking closely at these important documents and their history.


Native Communities and the Vote: Teaching About American Indian Voting Rights through Documents

Summary: Educators learn how to incorporate primary sources related to American Indian voting rights into lesson plans. Explore how to include discussions of evolving rights over time as related to Native Communities and the right to participate in Federal elections.  


Teaching the Big Picture: Incorporating Photographs into Lesson Plans about Native Communities

 Summary: Learn how to incorporate photographs from the National Archives into your lessons about American Indian communities. Educators will explore how to locate photographs in our holdings, the process of analyzing and interpreting primary source documents, and ways to contextualize the history depicted in the images.  


Pen Pals from the Past: American Indian Schools in the United States

Summary: Schools for Native American children and youth have existed since before the Revolutionary War. Although encouraged by the U.S. Government, schools between 1776 and 1879 were primarily run by religious institutions and, as a result, are not usually represented in National Archives holdings. In this webinar, we will learn about Indian Boarding and Day School records created primarily after 1879 by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and see some examples of class schedules and student work.