A CIESE Primary Source and
Archived Collections Project

Historical Treasure Chests

A Social Studies and Language Arts Activity


Primary sources such as letters, diaries, photographs, maps and artifacts provide students with authentic materials from the past.  By looking closely for details, students can draw conclusions about the items and formulate their own hypotheses about the time period(s) during which they were created. Further research, using secondary sources, will either confirm or challenge their ideas. 

This module provides a model for engaging students in an investigation of authentic materials from the past. The students will be provided with four primary sources and questions to guide their investigation. A wealth of other primary resources can be accessed on the websites listed in the reference section. Students are invited to share their own "treasure chests" by sending them in for posting in the Student Gallery.

This project was developed by Bank Street College of Education working in collaboration with staff at the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) which is located at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.