Legislative Branch

Educational Resources

Educational Resources

The Center for Legislative Archives—part of the National Archives—maintains some of the most historically valuable documents created by the federal government: the records of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Educators can us these historical documents to teach about representative democracy, how Congress works, and the important role Congress has played throughout American history.

eBooks and Mobile Apps

These digital tools have been created to compliment our lesson material, and can be used both inside and outside of the classroom.

DocsTeach: Teaching with the Records of Congress

DocsTeach is the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives. The Centers's special DocsTeach page will help students learn about Congress and its role in American history.

Lesson Plans

These lesson plans are designed to assist teachers with using primary source materials to integrate Congress into history, government and civics classes. They are suitable for junior high and high school students.

Fundamental Principles of Government

  • Teaching Six Big Ideas in the Constitution
    Students engage in a study of the U.S. Constitution and the significance of six big ideas contained in it: limited government; republicanism; checks and balances; federalism; separation of powers; and popular sovereignty.

Congress in History

  • Was Reconstruction a Revolution?
    Students examine primary sources from the Reconstruction era to determine whether the Reconstruction period of American history should or should not be viewed as a revolution.
  • Hetch Hetchy: Congress and the Environment
    Students use primary sources to study the Hetch Hetchy Valley environmental debate in Congress, and analyze how those positions inform today’s environmental debates.
  • Kids at Work: Congress and Child Labor
    Students analyze petitions and letters sent to Congress to discuss whether Congress should change regulating child labor from a state to a Federal responsibility.
  • Congress, the Great Society, and Today
    Students use primary sources from an online exhibit to study legislation passed in response to President Lyndon Baines Johnson's call for America to become a "Great Society."

How Congress Works

  • The Legislative Race
    Students explore a simplified version of the legislative process in the U.S. Congress