Ten years ago Texas history teachers had few options when looking for primary source materials to support their lessons. Now there is a bountiful supply of digital photographs, documents, maps, artifacts, and more that are freely available online through The Portal to Texas History. More than 200 institutions which include universities, historical societies, private collections, government agencies, and museums, have contributed their collections to The Portal to Texas History. Each day thousands of teachers are discovering ways to use these wonderful resources in the classroom. Among the many treasures in the Portal are photographs of early Texas pioneers and Native Americans, historical maps that document explorers’ routes and Indian trails, the transcribed correspondence of Stephen F. Austin, and historical newspapers.
As a way to save teachers time, The Portal to Texas History team also created a companion website, Resources 4 Educators, which has more than sixty lessons that incorporate primary source materials from the Portal. All of the lessons are aligned to Texas Essential Skills and Knowledge standards and provide links to additional resources and background information. Most of the lessons include a PowerPoint lecture and interactive learning activities for 4th and 7th grade classes.
The Portal to Texas History itself is constantly growing and each month there is something new to discover. At the request of teachers, University of North Texas digitized and added more than 5,000 items for its Texas Cultures Online project sponsored by the Amon Carter Foundation. This project reveals the many ethnic cultures of Texas through photographs and other historical items belonging to seventeen organizations. Included is the Texas Folklife Festival Collection of photographs that depict folk dancing and foodways of Czech, German, Cajun, Polish, Scandinavian, Lebanese, Mexican and Native American cultures.