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Teaching with Primary Sources at UW : Home

A resource for incorporating historical primary sources into teaching.


This guide is primarily intended as a resource for UW faculty who are interested in using archives, special collections, and other primary sources in their classes. Whether you have used these resources in the past or are just curious about what is possible, UW librarians and archivists are happy to work with you.

We can introduce your students to primary sources and develop your students' primary source literacy skills in an in-person or online environment. Librarians and archivists from UW Archives, UW Special Collections, Ebling Library for the Health Sciences: Rare Books & Special Collections, and the Wisconsin Historical Society can meet you in your classroom, online, or in our reading rooms to provide resources, exercises, demos, and discussions to prepare your students to use special collections and archives. We're here to help.

About UW-Madison Primary Source Libraries

Several campus libraries contain historical primary sources and offer instruction services. We work together as a team to create and provide instruction, which each specializing in distinct subject areas.

  • Ebling LibraryRare Books & Special Collections
    Contact: Micaela Sullivan-Fowler, Curator/History of Health Services Librarian 
    • Medical, Nursing, Public Health & Pharmacy, 1500's-present 
    • Unprocessed pamphlet and other files and artifacts 
    • Strengths in early print anatomy, infectious diseases, women's health, health sciences and society
  • UW Archives - Steenbock Library, 4th fl
    Contact: Katie Nash, University Archivist
    • The University Archives serves as the official repository for all UW-Madison, UW-System Administration, UW-Extension and UW Colleges records appraised to have permanent or archival value.
    • Holdings include the Daily Cardinal and Badger Herald, the Badger yearbook, minutes of the Regents and the Faculty Senate, course catalogs, timetables and directories of students and staff.
    • Oral History Program includes 1,500 interviews (nearly 4,500 hours) touching on all aspects of the University’s history.
    • The LGBTQ Archive contains oral histories, personal papers, photographs, ephemera and organizational records related to LGBTQ life in Madison and Dane County from the 1940s to today. 
  • UW Special Collections - Memorial Library, 9th fl
    Contact: Lisa Wettleson, Special Collections Public Services Coordinator
    • Includes manuscripts, rare books, and some archival collections
    • Strengths include English & American Literature, European History & Social Sciences, History of Science, History of the Book, Philosophy & Theology, and a Little Magazine Collection
  • Wisconsin Historical Society - Headquarters Building, Library Mall
    Contact: Cynthia Bachhuber, Instruction Coordinator/North American History Librarian
    • Specializing in North American History, collections at the Society are split into the Library and Archives
    • Library strengths:
      • North American newspapers collection is 2nd largest in nation
      • Large collection of African American, Native American, labor, and prison newspapers
    • Archives strengths:
      • Wisconsin governmental records and manuscript collections
      • Maps - over 30,000 maps and atlases documenting the history of North American exploration, economic and social development, environmental change and land ownership.
      • Social Action, especially the Civil Rights Movement
      • Hollywood Theater and Film
      • Mass Communication
      • McCormick-International Harvester, large collection useful for subjects ranging from agriculture, to history of business, to international relations.