Teaching with/about Primary Sources Committee

The purpose of the TPS Committee is to advocate for the active and interactive use of primary sources in teaching and learning as a core component of archival work.  The Committee will do this by gathering and disseminating information on the topic and developing resources and assessment tools for archivists and allied professionals. In so doing, the TPS Committee will reach out to all types of institutions (academic, cultural heritage, etc.) and all levels of learners: K-12, college and university, and life-long learners.


Initially established as a working group, the Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Committee was created in 2010 by past RAO chair James Gerencser to address a need and interest of the RAO membership. Mary Manning and Tanya Zanish-Belcher were the first co-chairs of the committee and spearheaded the creation of the committee charge and the original bibliography on which the committee built in their first two years of work. The first two projects that the committee completed were (1) a bibliography of works about teaching with primary sources, and (2) a report of findings and analysis from a survey of archivists regarding practices for teaching with primary sources. In 2013, the RAO Steering Committee approved making the TPS working group a standing committee of the RAO Section.  In 2014, the TPS Standing committee established four projects and adopted a project team structure to manage the work and communication of these projects.  The projects were:  Advocating and Proposing Standards for TPS, Resource Bank Development, Hosting UnConference Workshop, Survey of TPS content in graduate education. Three of these projects continue for 2015/16. They are: Resource Bank Development, Hosting UnConference Workshop, Survey of TPS content in graduate education.


Leadership and Organization 
Alison Reynolds (2020-2022) and Chloe Gerson (2020-2022) serve as co-chairs of the committee. The TPS Standing Committee is organized around project teams. TPS co-chairs appoint project team leaders. Project teams and TPS co-chairs create annual project charters outlining work, goals, and responsibilities in October and November each year.  Previous TPS leaders include Matthew Herbsion, Robin Katz, Doris Malkmus, JoyEllen Freeman, and Heather Oswald. 

Volunteers for project teams are solicited from a broad range of constituencies.  

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Developing and/or identifying techniques for creating interactive instruction experiences, including concrete examples, case studies, and resources, that will help archivists create high-value instructional sessions without “reinventing the wheel.” Resources supporting instruction should cover a range of topics in the whole spectrum of archival research, including navigating archives spaces and policies, identifying and finding materials, and analyzing primary sources. 
  • Identifying strategies for connecting with faculty/instructors and engaging them in the instruction planning process recognizing that every relationship and every institution is unique.
  • Advocating for instruction as a core component of archival work, given that the underlying barrier to successful instruction is lack of time, resources, and/or institutional support.
  • Developing best practices for assessment to create a shared understanding of what makes instruction successful.
  • Creating new teaching resources and working to disseminate these resources widely to those that teach with primary sources.
  • Ensuring ongoing communication within the committee and the larger archival community via appropriate means that allows and encourages communication, collaboration, and feedback.

RAO-Survey_Questions-2013_Survey_on_Teaching_with_Primary_Sources.pdf123.9 KB



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