Student Seminars

Theme and Objective| Students and Teachers| Unique Experience

Morristown NHP will not be holding a typical Primary Source Seminar or Archival Ambassadors program this year. The division of cultural resources is excited to share with our friends that a new Park Service initiative, Park for Every Classroom, has started and our programs have been selected as prototypes for this new service-wide initiative. We will still be offering limited opportunities for students and teachers this spring and summer, so please check back often or give us a call. 973-539-2016 x215 (Ms. Minegar) x214 (Dr. Pfister).  

Theme and Objective

Exploring Human Rights in America. In the twenty first century, the universal right of the individual is a generally accepted premise, but this has not always been the case. As history informs us, the definition of "human rights" has not always held the same currency and therefore, historically, not all individuals have been treated with equal concern. The current conception of "human rights" did not come into its common notion until the twentieth century. Primary Source Seminar emphasizes the changing conceptions of human rights as revealed through historical documents. We encourage an open discussion of human rights by exploring some of the definitions societies have proposed, and we discuss the types of world events, legal-ethical codes, political systems, and cultural conventions that affect those definitions. For our Primary Source Seminar, we have intentionally chosen documents from our collection to springboard our discussion of human rights. These documents pertain to three groups historically on the margins in terms of access to human rights in America: Native Americans, African Americans, and Women.

Primary Source Seminar is designed to give advanced placement students and teachers the unique perspective of working with authentic, unedited eighteenth- and nineteenth-century manuscripts from our own Lloyd W. Smith Archival Collection. As primary document analysis is an important component of the AP U.S. History curriculum, we are in the unique position to offer teachers a vitally useful resource. We guide students through source use and analysis activities that promote effective and meaningful primary source investigation and develop historical thinking skills. Though we choose to focus on manuscripts pertaining to Native American, African American, and Women's issues, we do not claim to be experts on these topics. Our seminar focuses primarily on modes of document analysis. The purpose of our endeavor is not to act as historical authorities or to seek definitive answers, but rather to inspire productive observation and inquiry generated through document analysis.

Enriching for Everyone:
The concepts taught in this unit benefit all budding historians (even if the documents themselves don't pertain to your current thematic unit).

Though the documents we have selected for the seminar certainly pertain to specific events and lives, we believe the document analysis skills acquired and the human rights conversation had during the Primary Source Seminar are valuable to every student of history, no matter the current unit of study. Our focus is on the PROCESSES of document analysis and analytical thinking. We use primary documents to practice these PROCESSES.

Primary Source Seminar Information Packet (pdf)

Students and Teachers

Primary Source Seminar is designed specifically for the benefit of AP U.S. History students, Honors history students, and advanced students taking general education courses. Using the College Board APUSH course description and input from area APUSH teachers as our guide, we have put together a program which complements the current APUSH curriculum. By providing access to our resources, we can provide a unique and valuable learning experience for advanced students of history. Our Primary Source Seminar allows us to open our archives to America's future historians and cultural heritage leaders.

  • Our program largely caters to advanced students of history and their teachers, but we eagerly welcome all mature groups of high school and college level students.

Unique Experience

  • Firsthand experience with authentic, unedited historical documents

  • Instruction on primary document care and handling from experts in the field

  • An exclusive look at documents pertaining to Native American, African American, and Women's issues

  • interaction with a professional institution - similar to what students will experience at the university level

  • Experience working with non-classroom educators in the broader community setting

  • A tour of an active rare-books library and archives

  • Training in primary document analysis