A Jackdaw is your personal archive of hands-on primary source materials. They are an array of fascinating, relevant primary source documents delivered directly to students. Most documents are reproduced in their actual sizes for you to touch and explore over and over. Transcripts and translations of difficult to read documents are provided for better understanding. Jackdaw primary sources encourage critical thinking and analysis, and augment retention of information in a variety of interdisciplinary disciplines.

Please keep in mind that entire sets of documents do not need to be used at once. Please feel free to cherry pick certain documents to create the ideal lesson for your grade. Also, the items within the different subjects are a range of reading levels (sometimes in Old English or cursive).

Jackdaws are also a wonderful way to incorporate many of the new key concepts of the Common Core Social Studies framework.


Jackdaws are wonderful examples of primary resource documents that are ideal for inquiry projects and developing essential questions. Students have the information that they need for a rich learning experience and deep understanding when given the opportunity to use primary resources. Using Jackdaws helps students focus on a particular topic or time period and explore the information at their own pace. Students can then report findings of their research to their class or group. Once these findings have been reported, information can be consolidated and then applied to different projects and is retained as knowledge.

What's New?

Assassination at Sarajevo (750062)


On June 28, 1914, a young man named Gavrilo Princip stood on Grebet Street in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo and aimed a pistol at an automobile that carried His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Princip’s shot, which killed the Archduke, was heard around the world, for it set in motion a series of events that plunged the great powers of Europe into World War I. Although almost all involved agreed that such an all-out war would be a terrible and bloody tragedy, a combination of treaty alliances, national ambition, ethnic rivalry, diplomatic miscalculation, and saber rattling nevertheless led Europe into the conflagration that became known as the War to End All Wars and left nine million people dead.

The Atomic Bomb (750063)


Documents from the Truman Library, Einstein’s letter to F.D.R., the scientists’ petition against use of the bomb, and the official bombing order will surely stimulate class discussion. Five Broadsheets and a timeline illuminate events surrounding our entry into the Atomic Age.

The Balkans: Ethnic Conflict (750064)


The difficult subject of ethnic conflict in the Balkans, and the historical and political background of the area are clarified through broadsheets, historical documents, photographs and illustrations. A history of the Ottoman Empire, explanations of such concepts as ethnic cleansing and nationalism, provide understanding of the tragic events that have occurred since the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Cold War and the Super Powers (750065)


Your students will gain a solid understanding of the Cold War era that led to the nuclear arms race, and has now resulted in worldwide concern with the control and disposal of nuclear weapons and waste. Documents convey the fear, hysteria and brinkmanship diplomacy of those perilous days, bring alive Cold War personalities such as Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman and Joe McCarthy; and provide an up-close look at the House Un-American Activities Committee proceedings. Broadsheets detail the era from beginning to end.

The Crusades (750066)


In May, 2001, Pope John Paul II formally apologized to the Archbishop of the Eastern Orthodox Church for the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. Use these documents and Broadsheets to study the crusades and their lasting importance in Europe and the Middle East. Discuss the Pope’s apology to demonstrate the continuity of history and current consequences resulting from events that occurred centuries ago. The hands-on exhibits allow you to travel the routes of the Crusades, and learn about the key persons involved.

The French Revolution (750067)


This Jackdaw effectively teaches the story of the Revolution from events leading up to the storming of the Bastille by the people of Paris to the complicated government and terror of the “Revolutionary Tribunal” that followed. Hands-on replicas of key historical documents — eyewitness accounts, London newspaper report, copies and translations of “The Declaration of Rights” and “Law of Suspects,” and even a poster with grisly details of “La Guillotine” and the fate of Louis XVI ¾ transport students to France during this turbulent time. Historian: Robert Lacey.

The Middle East: The Land and Its People (750069)


Students will study how the Middle East was the center of civilization, birthplace of the alphabet, the wheel, and three predominant religions, and they will, also, realize the importance of the Middle East as oil supplier to the world. This Jackdaw, through hands-on exhibits, presents the culture, and some politics, of the Middle East. Students will learn about the region’s four major languages, and they will be fascinated by “how and why mummies were made,” by whirling dervishes, muezzins and minarets, and by regional recipes and songs. The region’s critical importance today and are characterized with key historical documents on the creation of Israel and an early agreement between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat.

The Rise of Napoleon (750061)


Acquaint your students with the real Napoleon, one of the most fascinating and influential figures in history. Seven Broadsheets trace his blazing career from humble Corsican birth, his rise to become the self-proclaimed Emperor of France, to exile, and then return to power. Hands-on newspaper accounts, correspondence, sketches, portraits and letters provide reality to this sweeping saga.

The Russian Revolution (750060)


With this Jackdaw you can teach your students about Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin and the violence that brought the Communists to power in Russia with interesting, hands-on documents. The documents — such as Lenin’s own handwritten resolution proposing an armed uprising — and broadsheets will help students understand the major events that led to the USSR.

The Silk Road (750070)


With this Jackdaw, students will learn what it was like to travel and trade along the Silk Road, a 5,000 mile-long route over unmarked desert tracks and the highest mountains in the world, which served as the main highway between China and the west from the 1st century B.C. to the 14th century A.D. Using an enchanting narrative style that is certain to engage students, the four broadsheet essays and 10 illustrated exhibits describe how and why the Silk Road began, why silk was so mysterious and so valuable, the excitement and dangers of caravan life, the importance of spices, the languages Silk Road merchants used to communicate, and the astonishing variety of goods, inventions, and ideas that were exchanged between the vastly different worlds of China and the west.

Struggle for Black Voting Rights (750071)


Eighteen, hands-on, historical documents, including Thomas Nast cartoons and reproductions of NAACP pamphlets, bring this struggle to life for your class and reflect the strong emotions that accompanied the fight for black suffrage. Vivid documents reflect historical events and changes in society concerning this troubling issue.

The World of Islam (750068)


Your students will benefit from this introduction to the Islamic World, which is so active on the world scene today, and so little known to most Americans. The World of Islam reveals thirteen centuries of achievement of thought and action. Early Islamic scholars and scientists were far ahead of Europe in medicine, astronomy, and mathematics. Islamic art and literature produced beautiful and sophisticated works. This Jackdaw sets these achievements against the background of Islamic history. Hands-on exhibits introduce Mohammed, the Koran, Ramadan and the spread and history of the Muslin faith.

New PHOTO Collections

Jackdaw Photo Collections each consist of twelve, extra-large, 17" x 22", black-and-white photographs illustrating an important historical subject. For more information on the photos included in each collection, please check out our library catalog.

World War I: War in the Trenches (750057)

Child Labor: The Shame of the Nation (750052)

World War II: European Theater (750058)

World War II: Pacific Theater (750059)

Bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki (750056)

The Bombing of Pearl Harbor (750055)

The Depression Hits Home (750053)

The Dust Bowl (750054)

Contact Us!

The MultiMedia library is open 7:30am-3:30pm Monday-Friday. Please call or email us if you have any problems or requests!