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 a primary source-based assignment in your course, we recommend having students visit with us virtually or face-to-face so staff can provide a brief introduction to the operations and types of materials housed within our respective units, as well as information on how to access and use these resources. We are also pleased to offer a series of instructional videos about primary sources and how to access them:

Introduction to Heritage Resources: Primary Sources for Teaching, Learning & Research
An introduction to primary sources, including those available at Western through the collections of Heritage Resources, with information about how to use them in teaching, learning, and research.


Finding Historical Primary Sources at Western and Beyond 
Strategies and resources for finding primary sources in Western Libraries' circulating collections and at other institutions.

Discovering Resources Through MABEL: Training for Students and Instructors
Training on how to use MABEL, Western's digital assets management platform, to access select digitized content from Heritage Resources' collections.

Onsite Class Visits

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. Due to COVID-19, all onsite visits are currently subject to capacity limitations (this varies depending on location so please inquire for more details).
  • 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

More information about hours and driving directions to Heritage Resources' facilities can be found on our website: https://library.wwu.edu/hr/hoursanddirections.

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 (and/or their staff can be invited to planning meetings).  

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 Possible Topics

  • Advertising
  • Buildings or property
  • Campus history and student/staff/faculty experiences
  • Cold War experiences
  • Crime and punishment
  • Early Whatcom County industry
  • Environmental history 
  • Fishing and fishing rights
  • Food and drink
  • History of place and place-based research and learning
  • Immigration, immigrant life and culture
  • Individual people or families
  • LGBTQA+ experiences
  • Northwest Indigenous history and experiences
  • Oral histories
  • Parks
  • Photograph collections
  • Women's history and experiences/women's organizations
  • World War II experiences

Additional Resources

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