Archives in Action: Building Collaborative Partnerships through Online Curriculum Projects

Michael Fegan

Civics Online is an internet project working to provide a rich array of multi-media, primary sources to K-12 classrooms. Civics Online came about from two ongoing needs expressed by K-12 teachers - lack of access to rich, relevant primary source texts and what has been described as the inaccessibility of current online libraries and archives. Civics Online attempts to answer these needs by moving past the standard notion of the archive/library by providing materials and building an interface specifically suited to an audience and by working to help that audience use its materials through a collection of professional development tools for teachers and inquiry based activities for students. This presentation will explain how the Civics Online team construct ed a resource that works for K-12 teachers instead of making teachers work for it, will argue for a new conception of the online archive-one that meets the specific needs of audience and is accessible to those other than professional researchers, will pre sent new schemes for accessing historical/online information in terms of searching and interface design, will detail the benefits of working closely with K-12 teachers in the completion of the project, and document the richness, challenges, and obstacles of cross disciplinary, multi-leveled development team.