Transform Your Classroom with Early American History Primary Source Activities for Educators


Enhance your teaching of early American history with these comprehensive activities designed to deepen students’ understanding of the subject. These activities require no preparation.


Explore the rich history of early America with this bundle of primary source activities. From the Boston Massacre to John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson’s controversial election, these activities provide a unique and engaging way for students to learn about key events and figures that shaped the nation.

This is a bundle on Early American History includes the following primary source activities:

Boston Massacre Primary Source Activities

Boston Massacre

Explore the Boston Massacre and its significance as a catalyst for the American Revolution with this engaging learning opportunity.


American Revolution and Common Sense Primary Source Activities

American Revolution

Discover the impact of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense on the American Revolution and how it helped shape the nation’s path to independence.


Federalist Paper Number 10 Primary Source Activities

Federalist Paper No. 10

Gain a deeper understanding of James Madison’s thoughts on factions and how the newly drafted Constitution sought to mitigate their potentially harmful effects.


Corrupt Bargain Investigation Primary Source Activities

Corrupt Bargain

Students will analyze the Election of 1824 and evaluate whether it can be characterized as a “Corrupt Bargain,” as alleged by Andrew Jackson.


Frederick Douglass and Kale Primary Source Activities

Frederick Douglass & Kale

Students contrast Frederick Douglass’s powerful speech “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” with a letter penned by eleven-year-old Kale, a captive aboard the La Amistad ship.


You can buy these resources individually or save money by buying this bundle.

Enhance your teaching of early American history with these comprehensive activities designed to deepen students’ understanding of the subject. These activities require no preparation, and they are available in both PDF and Google Docs versions. Simply print or load them into your Learning Management System (LMS) and select the version that best suits your class’s needs.

Boston Massacre

Learn about the Boston Massacre, an event that ignited the American Revolution. Through this lesson, students will gain a clearer understanding of how different primary sources can lead to varied interpretations of history. Suitable for both History and English classes, this curriculum will sharpen analytical skills and develop critical thinking. Analyze propaganda and its impact on social movements while learning to think like a historian. Enhance vocabulary and reading comprehension while mastering the ability to analyze AP US History DBQ documents. Perfect for AP English and History students seeking to refine their skills and deepen their understanding of this pivotal moment in American history.

American Revolution & Thomas Paine’s Common Sense

Explore the American Revolution through the lens of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, the pamphlet that ignited the call for independence. But this activity goes beyond the patriot perspective by including Charles Inglis’s The Deceiver Unmasked, a primary source advocating for continued British rule. These activities are ideal for American history and English reading classes alike, offering a comprehensive understanding of print culture’s role in shaping the revolution. Students will learn to think like a historian, analyze primary sources, and enhance their vocabulary while sharpening their ability to read and analyze AP US History DBQ documents. A must-have for students seeking to deepen their knowledge of this pivotal moment in American history.

Federalist Paper Number 10

Analyze the U.S. Constitution and “Federalist Paper No. 10” by James Madison with this engaging curriculum. This activity includes the complete “Federalist Paper No. 10” as well as an abridged version, allowing educators to choose what is best suited for their class. Through reading and analysis, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the Constitution and the Founding Fathers’ apprehension regarding factions. Explore the differences between republics and democracies and learn how the Founding Fathers felt about these forms of government. Sharpen analytical skills, think like a historian, and improve vocabulary while mastering the ability to read and analyze AP US History DBQ documents.

“Corrupt Bargain”

Dig deep into fascinating world of American history with this thrilling primary source activity, perfect for history teachers! The Election of 1824 was a pivotal moment in American politics, and this activity includes ten short secondary and primary source excerpts that offer students a comprehensive understanding of why Andrew Jackson called it the “Corrupt Bargain.” By investigating this event, students will have a blast deciding for themselves whether or not history has misrepresented what actually happened. With this activity, students will improve their analytical thinking skills and ability to comprehend and analyze primary sources, while delving deeper into the complexities of the electoral process. Get ready to think like a historian and unravel the mysteries of the past with this exciting Election of 1824 primary source activity!

Frederick Douglass & Kale

This resource is designed to engage your students by comparing and contrasting Frederick Douglass’s powerful “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” speech with an extraordinary letter penned by an 11-year-old boy named Kale aboard the La Amistad ship. By examining primary sources from both a renowned figure like Douglass and a relatively unknown child like Kale, students will gain a unique perspective on the struggles of black people before the Civil War. As they analyze and compare these two primary sources, students will improve their ability to read and think critically, enhancing their historical and literary analysis skills.

Materials include:

  • Background information
  • Primary sources
  • Historical thinking questions

How to use these Activities

There are many ways to use these activities. You can read them the primary sources and answer the questions in class, or you can assign these activities as homework. You can also divide your class into groups and have them work on these activities together.

Students Will be able to…

  • Have a deep understanding of the time period
  • Think like a historian
  • Read, comprehend, and analyze primary sources
  • Improve vocabulary

Want more primary resources?

For an extensive collection of American history primary resources, visit the Nation Archives website.

Additional information

Resource Types

Homeschool, Primary Source Activities, DBQs


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