Integrating Primary Sources into the Elementary School Classroom: A Case Study of Teachers' Perspectives

  • Anne J. Gilliland-Swetland
  • Yasmin B. Kafai
  • William E. Landis


There have been increasing calls in recent years for archivists to become more engaged with the K-12 community and for primary sources to be more integrated into K-12 curricula, that is, primary and secondary education. This paper discusses effective ways to incorporate primary sources in the classroom, and examines teacher attitudes about the use of those sources. The paper begins with an overview of efforts by the archival community and developers of digital resources to develop primary source-based programs for use by K-12 communities in both formal and informal education settings. It then describes the methodology used to conduct this case study, and the case study findings. It concludes with a discussion of the implications of this research for developing a systematic archival and educational infrastructure and establishing a coherent theoretical base for educational use of primary sources in K-12 education.


Dans les dernières années, on a lancé des appels nombreux pour que les archivistes s’impliquent davantage auprès des enseignements de l’élémentaire et du secondaire [en anglais, K-12 désigne l’enseignement au primaire et au secondaire, « from kindergarten to grade 12 », NdT] pour favoriser l’utilisation des sources d’archives dans les programmes scolaires. Cet article discute différentes façons d’intégrer efficacement les documents d’archives dans les classes et examine l’attitudedes enseignants quant à leur utilisation. On traite d’abord des efforts déployés par la communauté archivistique et par les fournisseurs des ressources numérisées en vue de développer des programmes basés sur des sources d’archives pour les salles de classes élémentaires et secondaires, qu’il s’agisse d’apprentissage formel ou informel. On passe ensuite en revue la méthodologie qui a été utilisée dans l’étude de cas et les résultats obtenus. L’article se termine sur une discussion des implications de cette recherche pour le développement systématique d’une infrastructure archivistique et éducative et l’établissement d’une base théorique cohérente pour l’utilisation de documents d’archives à des fins éducatives dans les programmes scolaires de l’élémentaire et du secondaire.

Author Biographies

Anne J. Gilliland-Swetland
Anne Gilliland-Swetland is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Studies of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at Univeristy of California, Los Angeles where she teaches in the graduate specialization in Archives and Preservation Management. She has published widely in the areas of electronic records administration, archival information systems, and archival education. She is currently co-director of the American Team participating in the InterPARES Project.
Yasmin B. Kafai
Yasmin B. Kafai is Assistant Professor of Learning and Instruction at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Kafai undertook her studies on learning theories and technologies in France, Germany, and the United States. She received her doctorate from Harvard University in 1993 while working at the MIT Media Laboratory. She has written numerous articles on learning technologies and environments for young children in the fields of education, developmental psychology, computer, and information science. Her research on video games and learning has been published in Minds in Play: Computer Game Design as a Context for Children vs Learning. Her research, supported by the National Science Foundation and the Spencer Foundation, focuses on young children as designers of simulations and builders of digital archives. Through digital apprenticeships she studies the ways in which young students share their technological expertise, develop collaborative planning tools, and integrate science learning. She is also serving on the National Commission on Gender, Technology, and Teaching by the American Association of University Women.
William E. Landis
William E. Landis is currently manuscripts librarian in the Department of Special Collections at the University of California, Irvine. He has been production coordinator for JSTOR (Journal STORage, a not-forprofit organization based in New York City that provides Web-based, full-text search access to complete backfiles of approximately 140 scholarly journals, and archivist for the Cranbrook Educational Community in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He received his MILS from the University of Michigan in 1994, and specialized in archival administration. Bill has published articles and given conference presentations on the broad topic of the challenges of providing access to archival information systems via the World Wide Web, and is actively engaged with the articulation of standards to guide implementation of Encoded Archival Description.
How to Cite
Gilliland-Swetland, Anne J., Yasmin B. Kafai, and William E. Landis. 1999. “Integrating Primary Sources into the Elementary School Classroom: A Case Study of Teachers’ Perspectives”. Archivaria 48 (February), 89-116.