Primary Sources & Lesson Plans
News Articles

News articles are an important resource for learning about the past. Newspapers and magazines are more likely than other historical documents to have survived, and they were often written with an awareness of their long-range importance.

News writing falls into two major categories: news articles and editorials. Both types of writing provide factual information and windows onto contemporary opinions. Seemingly objective details in fact reflect the bias of the author, the publisher and the reader. In addition to exploring the information the author included, students must consider why this subject matter was deemed newsworthy at the time. Especially in the case of editorials, one needs to know about the reader as well as the writer. Whom did the editors believe they would influence with their argument? Did the writer reflect or shape contemporary opinions on this topic?

Articles by and about women were rare through much of American history. Women in the public arena were often the object of suspicion or ridicule, and students should note subtle aspects of the text that convey such attitudes. Over time, women increasingly became both the recorders of and actors in noted events. How is the perspective of women journalists gendered? Does bias still exist towards women in the public sphere?

Teacher Notes contain:

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

Teacher Notes for News Articles

Student Activity Sheet contains:

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

Student Activity Sheet for News Articles

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

Article about immigrant assimilation, 1913

Article about middle class advocacy on behalf of striking mill workers, 1926

Article about women in sports, 1941

Article about racial discrimination, 1959

Article about civil rights activism in the South, 1961

Article about anti-Semitism in Hollywood, 1977

Interview about racial discrimination, 2001

Editorial on behalf of gay rights, 2001