Bring Your Class

Special Collections and University Archives provides unique active learning experiences for students at Grand Valley State University that promote critical thinking, historical empathy, and primary source literacy.

Special Collections & University Archives encourages the use of archival collections in teaching at GVSU. We work collaboratively with instructors to integrate primary source materials into their curriculum: 

  • Develop instruction sessions tailored to meet the goals of your classroom. These instruction sessions can take place in Seidman House with hands-on access to materials or virtually, using our document camera to allow remote viewing.
  • Curate course-appropriate materials from our collections that engage students in the research process and strengthen students' critical thinking skills and understandings of topics, time periods, or formats.
  • Guide students in learning how to conduct archival research within our holdings and beyond, using databases, archival finding aids, and search strategies 
  • Design course-specific activities and active learning sessions for students to analyze primary sources in different formats. Activities may include how to interpret text documents or visual records, how to evaluate bias in primary sources, understand authenticity and representation, and construct arguments with source-based evidence.  

We are prepared to assist with or conduct a variety of instruction sessions ranging from general introduction to resources to an in-depth presentation on specific materials and their historical contexts.

Schedule a Visit

Please contact [email protected] as early as possible in the planning process. 

In your request, please include information such as:

  • Your preferred visit date(s) and time of class
  • Learning objectives or goals for your students
  • Syllabus or relevant assignment guidelines
  • The number of students in your class 
  • Any necessary accommodations

Primary Source Sets

Young Lords in Lincoln Park collage

Special Collections and University Archives is piloting the creation of primary source sets for instruction sessions where in-person archival visits are not feasible. 

Young Lords in Lincoln Park Lesson Plan

Young Lords in Lincoln Park Primary Source Materials



If you have suggestions for future primary source sets, please contact Leigh Rupinski at [email protected]

Examples of Instruction Sessions

ART 425: 19th Century American Art

In this session, the archivist provides a brief introduction to materials and ensures proper handling of historic photography samples when requested. Students engage with the instructor about the materials they examine during class. Following the session, students use the Reading Room and work with the archivist to pull materials for a related assignment. 

HSC 201: The Scientific Revolution

Students used a "Bingo" activity to engage with rare books. Students were introduced to the concepts of material culture and how to analyze materials in languages they couldn't read. In pairs, they examined a wide range of scientific and medical texts to learn why these materials were significant and draw conclusions about scientific advancements.

HST 290: Research Methods in History

Students engage deeply with how to conduct archival research. In class, students may learn how to use archival finding aids to retrieve information in the research process, search strategies for using online archival resources, and/or how to analyze primary sources. 

PHO 266: History of Photography

In this session, the archivist provides access to various samples of historic photography methods. After a brief introduction and demonstration of proper handling and care, the instructor leads the students in discussion of the materials.

Page last modified July 14, 2022