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Document Discovery

These are materials used in outreach and on-site workshops taught by the Public Education Coordinator. All Document Discovery classes are taught either in-person or virtually on Zoom - for free!

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Activities & Materials

How to Write a Letter to Your Representatives

Grade level: Elementary - High School

chart showing an example letter written to a representative. It includes helpful tips of what to include throughout, such as: Legislator's address, Don't forget the date, Salutation, Introduce yourself, Why are you writing, What questions do you have, Ask for a response, and signature and return address.

Be an active member in your community, whether you write to your principal, mayor, city council member, or congressman. Gather ideas from other constituent letters in the Dole Archives to craft your message. What opinion do you want to share? What is important to you?

Essential Question: Have you written a formal letter before? What message do you want to explain?


'Read' a Photograph

Grade level: Elementary - High School

a group of people are standing in a room. Senator Bob Dole is standing near the doorway. Close to the camera is a table with a decorated cake.

Investigate an interesting photograph from the archives to analyze the clues that this picture holds. Use this photograph with young elementary children for an easy introduction into the Dole Archives or use with older students to examine their analysis skills. What time period does this event take place? Who do you think these people are? What are they doing? Always keep asking questions!

Essential Question: What do you observe? What context clues help you decipher what the setting is for this photo?


Introduction to Primary Source Analysis

Grade level: Upper Elementary - Middle School

Top of typed letter used in primary source analysis

This is a great introduction for younger students in primary source document analysis. This easy to read letter uses simple language and does not hit on heavy themes of war; a young Bob Dole is writing his parents while he is in training for the army during World War II. A good way to introduce typewriters, writing letters and time away from family. The public education coordinator uses this letter for 4th grade and above.

Essential Question: What are some main points the author (a young Bob Dole) wants to tell his family? What about the fried chicken and ice cream?


Introduction to Research Methods and Primary Source Analysis

Grade level: Middle - High School

Top of typed letter with House of Representatives letterhead used in Research Methods analysis
This example is correspondence on the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

This workshop provides an introduction to primary source analysis and how to decipher clues about significant documents from the Dole Archives. Students then transition to exploring primary sources from the internet, includes tutorial on how to search the Dole Archives online digitized collections and database. Recommended search terms are also overviewed to promote efficient and useful Google searches in the midst of vast available information.

Essential Question: What are the best practices when searching for useful primary sources?


Document Debate: Before the 26th Amendment- The 18-year-olds Right to Vote

Grade level: Middle - High School

typed letter arguing against giving 18 year olds the right to vote, dated January 21, 1969

A typed letter arguing in favor of giving 18 year olds the right to vote, dated May 13, 1969

A look at two 1969 constituent letters from the Dole Archives highlighting opposing views on whether 18-year-olds should have the right to vote in the United States.

Essential Question: Should 18-year-olds have the right to vote and make decisions for our country?


Document Debate: A Look at the Americans with Disabilities Act

Grade level: Middle - High School

typed statement of Bob Dole's personal story titled How I overcame my physical handicap

A newspaper article clipping from the Washington Times titled Unfunded federal mandates disable states, legislator says. Dated December 10, 1993

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. Four primary sources from the Dole Archives illustrate the process of government and address how community problems can lead to legislation. The Dole Personal Story and ADA Facts are part of the pro-ADA legislation side, and the other two documents, the Unfunded Mandate news article and the Vachon Memo, highlight opposition to the law. Comparing and contrasting these documents will prompt a class discussion. Hopefully students will understand that there is no wrong or right side, just different viewpoints on legislation and how to help people the most. 

Essential Question: How has ADA affected lives? Is this issue complete yet?

More on ADA

For more information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, including additional archival materials and lesson plans, check out our ADA online exhibit.

Contact Our Public Education Manager

Julie Clover

Julie Clover
Public Education Manager
Dole Institute of Politics