Teaching, Learning & Research with Heritage Resources: Heritage Resources Instruction

Information on how to use Heritage Resources collections for teaching, learning and research.

Heritage Resources Instruction

If you are including an archives or primary-source based assignment in your course, we recommend having students visit Heritage Resources facilities. Staff can provide a brief introduction to the operations and types of materials housed by each program, information on how to access and use these resources, and a "behind the scenes" tour of our facilities.

Planning a visit 

Advance notice and arrangements are required for all group tours and/or hosted class sessions. When contacting Heritage Resources, please let us know:

  • Possible dates/times. Instructors must accompany students on class visits.
  • Focus of the class and/or specific interests of students.
  • Size of the class. Smaller groups preferred - 25 student maximum for interactive undergraduate class sessions.   
  • Details of any follow-up assignments.
  • Type of session requested (e.g. introductory tour, interactive class session).

We encourage instructors who have not previously used our facilities in teaching to visit and meet with staff in advance. Instructors and faculty planning a class session where students work hands-on with Heritage Resources materials will be asked to assist in selecting resources and developing a lesson plan as appropriate. We recommend allowing at least 1.5 hours of class time for this type of "hands-on" session.

Before a class visit

  • Instructors should ask students to review the rules for visitiing and use of Heritage Resources facilities. You may use the following links to find this information online: "Access and Use of Collections"
  • All visitors will be asked to sign the visitors' register and secure belongings in the lockers provided. 
  • Instructors or students should give advance notice to relevant program staff of any materials they wish to examine during the visit. There will not be time or staff available to retrieve materials "on demand" during the class session.
  • Please note that Heritage Resources staff are not permitted to give parking passes to WWU faculty, staff or students. Individuals should contact WWU's Parking Services for information about parking on campus. 

Location and Hours

Please visit individual program websites for more information about hours and driving directions to Heritage Resources facilities.

Planning a class session at the Archives

This guide is provided by Western Libraries Heritage Resources. Instructors/students wishing to work with records from the Washington State Archives (NW Region) should consult with staff from these programs as appropriate.  

Heritage Resources will ask instructors interested in having students work "hands-on" with primary sources to assist in selecting materials and developing a lesson plan as appropriate. Please contact us to discuss the needs of your students. We recommends allowing at least 1.5 hours of class time if students are expected to examine and analyze archival records. A possible framework for class activities includes:

  • Instructors define a topic or series of topics appropriate to the theme of a class, and work with Heritage Resources staff to choose a selection of relevant materials. 
  • Following a tour of or general orientation to Heritage Resources facilities, students work in groups at a table/workstation containing a selection of documents. These workstations could include documents relating to a particular topic, or in a certain format.  
  • Students collaborate to find information or "clues" on a given topic, or to answer a set of guidance questions. Students could also be assigned topics before visiting the facilities, and asked to outline their own questions. 
  • Group discussion and/or follow-up assignment analyzing the resources and information found, challenges encountered and any questions students wish to address.

Examples of previously assigned topics include: 

  • Individual people or families
  • Buildings or property
  • World War II experiences (local/regional)
  • Cold War experience (local/regional)
  • LGBT experiences (local/regional)
  • Crime and punishment
  • NW Native American history and experiences
  • Early Whatcom County industry
  • Environmental history 
  • Fishing and fishing rights
  • Food and drink
  • Oral histories
  • Parks
  • Photograph collections
  • Immigration, immigrant life and culture
  • Women's history and experiences/women's organizations
  • Advertising

Additional Resources

Web-based resources for K-12 and/or Higher Ed. students and instructors, designed to support critical analysis of primary sources: