The National Archives preserves the records of the U.S. Government and makes them available so that students, educators, and people of all ages can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. We hold the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, the records of Congress, court records, and millions of other documents that tell the nation’s story, document the actions of government officials, and confirm the rights guaranteed to individuals.
To encourage civic literacy and engagement, we provide teachers with programming, curricula, and exceptional field trip experiences at facilities all across the country. Our programs encourage young people to make a positive difference and improve the world they are inheriting.
Pursuing Civic Literacy, on the blog of the Archivist of the United States
Archivist of the United States David Ferriero makes the case for the need for quality civics education and highlights efforts by the National Archives to increase levels of civic literacy.
DocsTeach.org provides students and teachers with access to thousands of primary sources covering a wide variety of civic and historical topics. Teachers can discover and create online activities that help illustrate abstract civic concepts through real-life examples from the holdings of the National Archives. With hands-on access to primary sources and analysis techniques, students will form a connection to historical evidence, and deepen their understanding of the past and our nation’s founding principles.
Our standards-based, interactive programs for elementary, middle, and high school students feature historical documents, photographs, maps, posters, and other primary sources. Topics include the nation's founding documents – the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights – citizenship, rights, checks and balances, and civic engagement.
The Pare Lorentz Center at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library brings workshops, resources, lectures, and presentations directly into the classroom free of charge. Topics include the role of the President, policies and programs, and leadership.
Programs cover a wide variety of learning opportunities and are available globally. Topics may include: the Presidency, court cases, and more.
Working in replica storage and research spaces, students, scouts, or other civic-minded individuals find and analyze primary sources and make connections to bigger ideas about our government and history.
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum (West Branch, IA)
Students participate in programs and activities on the presidency and the Constitution.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum (Hyde Park, NY)
Programs invite students to examine the President's roles as outlined in the Constitution or assume the role of a President facing a series of crises.
Harry S. Truman Library and Museum (Independence, MO)
Students work in a hands-on history lab, The White House Decision Center, where participants step into the roles of President Truman and his advisors.
Students learn about the presidency and Constitution.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (Boston, MA)
Students examine primary sources to learn about and evaluate the presidency.
Students role-play, advise the president, and investigate primary sources in a variety of programs.
Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum (Yorba Linda, CA)
Interactive exhibits and a presidential classroom give students hands-on educational experiences.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum (Grand Rapids, MI)
Student programs engage participants in topics such as decision-making, the Constitution, and amendments.
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum (Atlanta, GA)
Students can explore citizenship, the legislative process, and the role of the presidency.
George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum (College Station, TX)
Students learn about responsible citizenship, the role of the President, or the Bill of Rights.
William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum (Little Rock, AR)
Guided tours compliment classroom programs in which students role-play in a Cabinet Room simulation or advise the President on the Kosovo Crisis.
Educators can participate in document-based workshops on finding and teaching with primary sources covering a wide variety of civic and historical topics.
eBooks that illustrate American government and civics through primary sources:
- The Congress Creates the Bill of Rights app for tablets situates the user in the proposals, debates, and revisions that shaped the Bill of Rights. Its menu-based organization presents a historic overview, a detailed study of the evolving language of each proposed amendment as it was shaped in the House and Senate, a close-up look at essential documents, and opportunities for participation and reflection designed for individual or collaborative exploration.
- On the DocsTeach App for iPad, you can share primary source-based learning activities with your students to access on their iPads. Students can also browse by era, including Civics & Government activities across eras.
Lesson Plans about Congress
These primary source-based materials were created to integrate Congress into history, government and civics classes.
Constitution Day Resources
Constitution Day is September 17th. The National Archives and Records Administration celebrates this important day by presenting activities encouraging educators and students at all levels to learn more about our Constitution and government.
The Advise the President Series
These ready-to-use tools provide an opportunity to bring historic Presidential decisions into the classroom. Using a deliberation process, students will learn about history by focusing on pivotal issues faced by past Presidents.
Curriculum Resources from the Presidential Libraries and Foundations
- Herbert Hoover Library
- Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
- Harry S. Truman Library
- The Eisenhower Foundation
- John F. Kennedy Library
- Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation
- Jimmy Carter Library
- The Carter Center
- Ronald Reagan Library
- William J. Clinton Library
- George W. Bush Library
Constitution Day at the National Archives
September 17 is designated as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. Learn more about the U.S. Constitution through our public programs, family activities, and online resources; and find teaching resources.
Fourth of July at the National Archives
The National Archives is the home of the original Declaration of Independence! July 4th events in Washington, DC, and at the Presidential Libraries include dramatic readings and hands-on activities that bring the history and ideas of the Declaration of Independence to life.
We hosts the nation’s most prominent speakers, scholars, educators, government officials, members and former members of Congress, Presidents, First Ladies, and Supreme Court Justices for informative and educational events and programs at locations across the country.
The Boeing Learning Center at the National Archives in Washington, DC
Drop in during your museum visit to explore replica documents, images, maps, posters, and more, and to participate in hands-on activities. Join us for family days that highlight civic topics, or for a family learning lab to make connections between historical documents and big ideas about our government and history.
Programs on Civic Education:
Citizen Engagement in America’s History
Watch a cross-generational and bipartisan discussion about how citizen movements have influenced – or failed to influence – policymakers. From Civil Rights marches to student activism in the social media age, citizen activists joined a panel with former members of Congress who discussed how in their careers on Capitol Hill citizens changed their thinking on specific topics. The conversation focuses on civic engagement, civic education, and how to petition the government.
Forum on National Civics Poll: How Competent a Citizen Are You?
From October 2014 through April 2015, Purdue University students led by former U.S. Ambassador Carolyn Curiel polled 1,100 American adults in the areas of civic knowledge, civic participation, and civic confidence. Paula Dwyer, an editor at Bloomberg View, moderates a discussion with some of these students and presents the findings
A Conversation with Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter explained the importance of civic education to a democratic society with Linda Greenhouse, a Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times reporter and a Senior Fellow at Yale Law School.
More Programs and Video Resources from the National Archives' YouTube Channels: