Using this Text in the Classroom

Rebekka Boysen-Taylor

General questions for Teacher Facilitation:  

Guiding Learners to Examine Idaho’s Hidden Histories

Analysis of the Standard Historical Narrative in Idaho history textbooks

  • What is the narrative of Idaho?
  • What is the standard story of Idaho’s history?
  • How can Idahoans build knowledge beyond the standard historical narrative?

Learning Goals

  • I can define a primary source
  • I can define a secondary source
  • I can describe benefits and drawbacks to using primary and secondary sources to learn about history
  • I can analyze a source and make observations about it in relation to Idaho’s past and present

Guiding Artifact Based Historical Inquiry

  • Ask the learner(s) to define what they think primary and secondary sources are. Offer a variety of items and have them sort the items individually, with partners, or in small groups. Here is an example sort from the Library of Congress. Depending on the age of the learner(s) and your topic of interest you may want to create your own or use this one.

Once the items are sorted look up or offer definitions of primary (firsthand, raw images, objects, and accounts from people who witnessed events firsthand during the time you are studying) and secondary (secondhand accounts that retell, examine, explain, or summarize) sources. Look at the sorted items and determine whether they are indeed in the right piles.

  • When encountering a historical artifact, we recommend looking at an item for 5-10 minutes to observe it in detail making notes before discussing it. This can seem like an uncomfortable amount of time, try it anyway and see what you think! You can take notes, record questions, or consider the following questions during this quiet time. There are many details that we can quickly move past when we begin talking about an item right away.
  • A simple series of questions to ask about any historical artifact includes:
  • What is this item?
  • What do I see?
  • What information is included?
  • What is missing?
  • Who made this item? Why?
  • What was it used for?
  • Whose perspective is represented? Whose perspectives are missing? Why?
  • How does this connect to Idaho today?
  • How does this connect to things in my everyday life?
  • How does this connect to what I am studying? What questions does this source bring up for me currently? (If you come back and look again later, you may have different questions!)
  • What do I want to research or examine next to better understand this artifact or period of history?
  • What are my takeaways?


Teachers may also consider using the Library of Congress’ Primary Source Analysis Tools located here.

To identify local resources talk with elders in your community, visit local libraries, museums and historical societies.


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Using this text in the Classroom Copyright © 2023 by Rebekka Boysen-Taylor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.