Primary Sources & Lesson Plans

In the days before telephones and the internet, letters were the primary means of sharing information. Most cities had several posts, or mailings, per day. Letters provide extremely important information to those who study the past. Students of history need to read beyond what is written and see the deeper meaning in the language, tone, and focus of the letter. Because important political figures understood that future generations might see their correspondence, they were often careful about what they said and the ways in which they phrased their thoughts.

Women usually used correspondence to express personal sentiment, although as they became involved in more public activities, they too appreciated the value of how their words might be interpreted. As historical artifacts, the letters in the Jewish Women’s Archive collection are significant for both their subject matter and the way in which these points were conveyed.

Teacher Notes contain:

  • Overview of the primary source type
  • Skill focus
  • Directions for conducting the lesson

Teacher Notes for Letters

Student Activity Sheet contains:

  • Small group or individual study activities for the primary source type
  • Application and follow-up activities

Student Activity Sheet for Letters

Document Study Sheets contain:

  • Picture of the primary source
  • Background material
  • Specific discussion questions related to the primary source

Select a Document Study Sheet from those listed on the right side of this page.


Document Study Sheets

Personal correspondence between young women, 1805

Correspondence about nursing employment, 1904

Correspondence about women's suffrage, 1920

Correspondence about postwar conditions in Europe, 1946