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

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

Heritage Resources Online Instruction

Due to the COVD-19 outbreak, Heritage Resources' physical facilities are closed to the public and to in-person research at this time. Staff are working remotely during regular business hours, and are staying in touch with our campus and community users through email, phone, and online video-conferencing platforms. Understanding that moving all classes completely online has presented immediate curricular challenges for Western students and faculty, we are finding creative ways to use these technologies to maintain reference, instruction, and other services in support of campus teaching, learning, and research needs. It is our goal to continue providing access to our services and resources even if we are unable to meet in-person and provide physical access to collection materials at this time.

Some specific projects under development include:

Heritage Resources staff can also recommend online resources (as well as additional content that may be available digitally but is not currently posted online) that are specifically relevant to courses you are teaching or enrolled in. We are eager to work with faculty and students directly to assist you. This support might include:

  • Outlining and pointing you towards existing, digitized primary source content that is posted online (in particular via the MABEL platform), as well as additional (non-WWU) resources.
  • Sharing additional materials that are digitized and stored to servers, but not yet available for access online.
  • Participation in and facilitation of remote introductions and orientations, discussions, Q&A etc. via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
  • Customized consultations re: primary source research strategies, ideas for integrating primary source instruction into course content, and suggestions for specific content in our collections that can support course learning goals.

Heritage Resources Face-to-Face Instruction (currently not available due to COVID-19 outbreak)

If you are including a primary source-based assignment in your course, we recommend having students visit our facilities to get an authentic experience working with archival and special collections materials. Staff can provide a brief introduction to the operations and types of materials housed within our respective units, information on how to access and use these resources, and a "behind the scenes" tour of our spaces.

Planning a visit 

Advance notice and arrangements are required for all tours and hosted group sessions. Instructors must accompany students during class visits. When contacting Heritage Resources, please let us know:

  • Possible dates/times.
  • 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 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 interactive session.

Before a class visit

  • Instructors should ask students to review the rules for visiting and use of our research spaces. You may use the following link to find this information online: "Access and Use of Collections".
  • All visitors will be asked to sign the visitors' register and secure belongings, including food and drink, pens, binders, notebooks, and bags/purses/backpacks, in designated spaces. Note taking materials will be provided. 
  • Instructors and students should give advance notice of any specific materials they wish or expect 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 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 Session at the Goltz-Murray Archives Building

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.

Additional Resources

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

Examples of Possible Topics

  • 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