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Primary Source Sets

Meaningful inquiry through primary source sets supports the development of essential historical thinking skills and connects students directly to history.

Primary source sets are curated resources around one theme or question. Meaningful inquiry through primary source sets supports the development of essential historical thinking skills and connects students directly to history. The primary source sets developed by the New Hampshire Historical Society complement the range of topics covered in the “Moose on the Loose.” Each set of photographs, documents, maps, and objects offers multiple entry points for investigating a piece of New Hampshire’s past. See the Analyze It! section on this website for investigation frameworks for each type of primary source.

Here are several suggestions for using primary source sets:


Category Sort

A category sort is a simple way to introduce all the items in a set at once. Students examine the items for differences, similarities, and themes. What categories can they create? How many categories can they create? Which items go in which categories?


Students focus on two items selected from the set to consider different perspectives on the topic of the set.

Focus Question

Teachers and students can work together to develop a question about the topic that prompts inquiry into multiple sources from the set. How do different sources help answer the question? How do additional sources enrich the answer?


Students use details gathered during analysis to put the sources in chronological order as best they are able. Once the order is determined, students can look for change in how the topic is represented over time, new issues that arose about the topic during certain time periods, or connect specific items to other events that occurred at that time in the state, the country, or in other parts of the world.

Museum Exhibits

  • Full exhibit: Educators hang up images in the hallway or in the classroom with blank paper under each one. Students examine the sources and write one word per source on the paper that relates to how they interpret the source. Once the class has all contributed, students and teachers discuss the words and themes, patterns, or discoveries made.

  • Micro exhibit: Students select three items from the set for close analysis. After analyzing the items, the students use them to curate a micro exhibit about the topic.


Illustrated Guides

Select items from the primary source set to illustrate the student guide and prepare a presentation, either an online slideshow or a printed book.

Amoskeag Manufacturing Company

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Once the largest textile mill in the world, the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester was one of the great industrial giants of its day.

Franklin Pierce

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Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States, serving from 1853 to 1857. He was the only president to come from New Hampshire.

Mount Washington

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At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the highest mountain in northeastern North America.

Old Man of the Mountain

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Officially named a state emblem in 1945, the rugged “face” of the Old Man was widely embraced as a miraculous symbol of the character of the state of New Hampshire.

John Stark

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One of the most revered figures in New Hampshire history, John Stark was a Revolutionary War general and the author of what became the state motto, “Live free or die.”

Franklin Leavitt Maps

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The whimsical depictions of Franklin Leavitt's eight White Mountains maps contributed to the region’s legends and lure.