Learning Center

Teaching with Primary Sources

Primary sources are the fundamental materials that furnish the raw data and information out of which historians understand the past. The OHP refers to primary sources as "historical records." Using primary sources, or historical records, is particularly important for students at all levels because it enables them to consider multiple perspectives and to compose informed interpretations. When students research and interpret primary sources, they begin to understand that history is constructed of multiple experiences and points of viewRead More

Digital Exhibits

Women in the Shipyards
Oregon women joined millions of women across the country who found meaningful employment in war-related industries during World War II. Women who had been restricted to particular jobs—or to no jobs at all because of their gender and race—worked with men in factories and farms The increased democratization of the labor force in the United States during World War II was a consequence of the desperate need for workers to begin working immediately. Click here to see annotated primary source document sets, from the Oregon Historical Society archives. 

Interpretive essays

Michael McGregor, an accomplished writer and Associate Professor of Nonfiction Writing and English at Portland State University, wrote these essays using journals, autobiographies, letters, newspapers, photographs, and other primary documents from the Oregon Historical Society archives. Nonfiction storytelling helps readers  imagine the events, people, and issues that shaped Oregon history, encouraging readers to ask questions about the lives of those who lived during times of immense change in Oregon. Read the essays.


Browse through the biographies of significant people in Oregon history. Find the list here.

Historic Viewers

Historic Viewers are interactive and layered electronic images which engage viewers in a dynamic vision of change over time in Oregon. Each viewer links to an accompanying historic record that contains information on the viewer. Use the viewers.

Teachers' Guide

District and statewide curriculum expectations in the Social Sciences are ambitious. Secondary sources, such as textbooks, are easily accessible and allow classes to cover topics efficiently, but they are often bland and impersonal. While primary source documents (such as those available online at the www.ohs.org) can certainly add intrigue and color to textbook approaches to history. Read more.

Annotated Bibliography

A comprehensive list of some of the significant books about the history of Oregon.

Oregon My Oregon

Oregon My Oregon is an award-winning exhibit that occupies an entire floor (7,000 square feet) of the Oregon History Museum at the Oregon Historical Society. The exhibit includes two theaters, interactive displays, and several environments, including a re-creation of a Hudson’s Bay Company ship hull, a 19th century explorer’s tent, and a store stocked with 1940s-era merchandise from the Hood River Yasui Brothers Mercantile. Go to the exhibit page.

Traveling Trunks Program

Traveling Trunks are trunks that can be rented out on a weekly basis from Sunday to Saturday. They contain hands-on objects, maps, artifacts, primary source documents, and lesson plans. The trunks provide an exciting exploration into various parts of history and locations throughout Oregon. Go to the Traveling Trunks page.

Classroom tours

The Oregon Historical Society is happy to offer tours of our Museum and Library. Tours are available to the general public, adult groups, and school groups. Get information on tours. 

Lesson Plans

The lesson plans and other materials here have been created by teachers, historians, and museum educators in order to support open inquiry learning. Students will learn to create their own questions, to read and interpret primary and secondary sources, and to design projects based on regional history and its connection to the history of the wider world.

Lesson Plan: Elementary: Built Environment
Lesson Plan: Elementary School: Anthropology

Lesson Plan: Middle School: Economic Development
Lesson Plan: Middle School: Built Environment

Lesson Plan: High School: African Americans in Oregon




Oregon Historical Society

This entry was last updated on March 17, 2018