Education Outreach: April Week 6

Daily Primary Source Activities for Families Learning at Home

Parents and caregivers, are you looking for activities for students learning at home? Through April 24th, the Tennessee State Library and Archives will be posting primary sources from our collection here and on our Facebook page. These posts will include inquiry questions and short activities to help your students engage with social studies content while studying at home. 

May 4

Today’s primary source is an image of John Sevier, Tennessee’s first governor.

Questions for students:

1) Since photography wasn’t invented until 1826, early Americans relied on painted portraits to preserve their image. Some individuals would only sit for one painting for their entire lives. Knowing that, what do you think of Governor John Sevier’s portrait?

2) Who was Governor John Sevier?

3) Do you think this is an accurate portrayal of him?

4) Do you think this was his usual dress?


Besides being our state's first governor, John Sevier was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, a farmer, a tavern owner, a fur trader, and a land speculator. With this information, design a new portrait for the governor. Think about what kind of clothing would be beneficial to his daily work and how the background setting would look.

May 5

Today’s primary source is a photograph of a World War I era gas mask.

Questions for students:

1) What is the purpose of this object?

2) How do you think it protected soldiers in World War I?


Imagine your brother, a cousin, or a neighbor was recently drafted into World War I. The best way to check in on them is through letter writing. What types of questions would you have for him? What do you want to know about his experience overseas? What would you tell him about life at home? Try writing this letter.

May 6

This primary source is a political cartoon about the Highlander Folk School, most likely from 1959..

Questions for students:

1) What was the Highlander Folk School?

2) Name three civil rights leaders that received training there.

3) What words are synonyms for "poking around" in the title of this political cartoon?


Create a political cartoon about the Highlander Folk School using this political cartoon for ideas. Be creative! If you were a teacher/trainer at a school like the Highlander Folk School, what would you want to teach?

May 7

Today’s primary source is an illustration from the book The South: A Tour of Battlefields and Ruined Cities, A Journey through the Desolated States, and Talks with the People published in 1866.

Questions for students:

1) What was the Freedmen's Bureau?

2) Why was it created?

3) Why was education such an essential part of the Freedmen's Bureau?

4) What were the other laws passed after the Civil War to protect African Americans and their rights?


What do you want to be when you grow up? Education is a critical step in reaching that goal. Write a list of 3-5 ways going to school, and getting an education will help you become what you want to be.

May 8

Today’s primary source is a newspaper article published in the Nashville Tennessean on September 1, 1940.

Questions for students:

1) To what park is this article referring?

2) Where is the park located?

3) How much work did it take to make this park a reality?


In September of 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to East Tennessee to officially dedicate the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was the culmination of many years of effort to make this dream into a reality. Think about a dream you have for your community. Do you want a park? Do you want a community pool? Write a newspaper article about your idea becoming a reality.