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Disability History Primary Source Set

Disability History: From Almshouses to Civil Rights

UPDATED IN 2020. The following primary source set, created using materials from the Library of Congress, contains an array of sources focused on Disability History in the United States. Disability has been interwoven into America’s history since the country’s inception through letters, images, newspapers, diaries and other primary sources. The set provides a comprehensive look into a wide range of Library of Congress resources.

Polio Primary Source Set

Closed movie theaters, church services, and summer camps – special hospital wards with ventilators called ‘iron lungs’ for polio patients with the most severe cases – parallels between polio and coronavirus epidemics are numerous. What lessons can we learn from history?

Emerging America Lesson Design Toolkit

Keep at hand all seven items in the  Emerging America Lesson Design Toolkit to support strong lesson plan development. You will also need copies of applicable academic standards and, of course, your text set, and any other support materials for the lesson. Refer to each tool to broaden choices for you and for students. The tools help make precise and clear the language in lesson objectives, instructions for assignments, rubrics, graphic organizers, and other handouts. 

RAN Chart

A Tool to Challenge Misconceptions

The point of the RAN Chart is for students to research and confirm or correct their ideas for themselves! (Thus the RAN Chart improves on the old "KWL" chart.) 

Step 1: Draw the RAN Chart on a whiteboard or smart board, or build from note cards or post-its. Ideally, leave the RAN Chart up through throughout an investigation. Create categories to help categorize the important ideas and information of the topic. 

Circle of Viewpoints Thinking Map - Visible Thinking Project - Project Zero

Prior to investigating a source, students examine the variety of people and groups that would interpret the source differently. Members of the class brainstorm to arrive at a list of all the different viewpoints, then one by one speak from the perspective of the varying stakeholders. This thinking routine, published by the Visible Thinking project at Project Zero, helps students consider the social and historical context for a primary source.

Restricting Immigration to the US

This lesson uses the 21st century “travel ban,” ruled constitutional in 2018, as an entry point to explore previous shifts in US immigration policy. More specifically, students will use primary sources to examine social contexts of three specific immigration laws (Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Immigration Acts of 1921 & 1924, and Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952) in order to understand who was banned or excluded from the US and why.

Civil Rights & Disability: 1990 ADA, IDEA, & the Juvenile Justice System Today

Kelley McDermott, History teacher in a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services facility developed this lesson to attract her 8th grade students interest in research and public policy. Historically, students with disabilities are disproportionally caught up in the juvenile justice system. The lesson employs many strategies and tools for accessibility from Emerging America's Accessing Inquiry course. These include a focus vocabulary analysis and Universal Design for Learning plan.

Social Justice Books

From Social Justice Books: A Teaching for Change Project, this powerful site offers more than 60 curated lists of books on social justice and multicultural points of view for children, young adults, and educators. Book lists are organized by topic areas–including Changemakers, Disabilities, Immigration (and specific immigrant groups), Organizing, and Voting Rights! 

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