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Local History Projects

Suzanne Judson-Whitehouse models a visit to a local archive, Northampton's Forbes Library. (6:35 minutes). 


Visit a local archive

  • What is your goal for students? To observe physical archives? To learn about their community’s local history? To create and publish local histories?
  • Start with staffed archives. They know their collections and can guide novices.
  • Brainstorm possible topics and time periods, yet keep an open mind to what stories and facts local sources and local experts have to tell.
  • Call in advance to set up an appointment.
  • Scan Library of Congress and other online resources–including maps, newspaper articles, and photos–to gain context and primary sources to contextualize the history of your community.


Browse project guidelines and examples from local history projects

Download slides from Emerging America’s Windows on History graduate course.


Additional Resources for Organizing Projects

Library of Congress


The National History Education Clearinghouse

  • The National History Education Clearinghouse offers a mix of resources on local history projects, including this blog post from Daisy Martin.


National History Day

  • National History Day programs state affiliates can help organize local history research and offer opportunities for students to showcase their projects. 


National Historical Marker Day - April 26 

  • Curriculum and registration to join the national program. 


Emerging America Exhibits


Upcoming Workshops

July 15 - 8:30am - 3pm - Collaborative for Educational Services, 97 Hawley Street, Northampton, Massachusetts. Register. This workshop is full. Email events@co…
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