Newberry Library

60 W. Walton St., Chicago, IL 60610

Participating Staff:

  • Hana Layson
  • Rachel Rooney
  • Charlotte Ross

Chicago Teachers as Scholars: Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North

This professional development program for Chicago Public School teachers in grades K-12 addressed the connections between Civil War home fronts and battle fronts, revealing how even those far removed from the battlefields felt the war’s impact. Teachers focused on primary source materials featured in the Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North exhibition at the Newberry Library. Items from the exhibition are featured on the Newberry’s Digital Collections for the Classroom website ( with context essays and discussion questions for teachers to bring back to the classroom.

Key learning objectives

Teacher learning objectives:

  • Explore Civil War era visual culture to examine the impact of the war on the northern home front.
  • Gain confidence in analyzing images as historical documents.

CCSS connections

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9 Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9: Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

How the program addresses the standards:

“Chicago Teachers as Scholars” seminars like Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North are content-based sessions with a primary source focus to address Common Core skills like close readings of texts, comparing texts and exploring relationships between texts, and searching for evidence within texts. Each “Chicago Teachers as Scholars” seminar has an accompanying digital resource on the Digital Collections for the Classroom website so that teachers can bring primary sources related to the seminar content into the classroom.

What we learned

Teachers enjoy the show-and-tell component of seminars, but evaluations indicate that they prefer the digital resources because they are easy to bring back to the classroom. Participants appreciate the content-based framing around working with documents; however, they have asked for more explicit Common Core connections on the Digital Collections for the Classroom website. The challenge we face with adding specific Common Core standards to the site is that a single document or set of documents can achieve different standards depending on how they are used.

Quotes from participants

  • “I think the DCC [Digital Collections for the Classroom website] has a fantastic collection of primary sources that I can use. They are challenging, which works well with the increased rigor available in the Common Core.”
  • “This program introduced me to other areas of the Civil War that I can address with students beyond slavery and economics.”
  • “The materials from the seminar will help me incorporate more primary sources into my lessons.”