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The Portal to Texas History

Primary Source Adventures - Alphabetical Listing

Using the Primary Source Adventures enables History teachers to direct their students to primary source historical documents that will dramatically enrich their learning experience. Each Primary Source Adventure includes an introduction to the materials and links to other learning resources to help you be prepared. The lesson plan discusses the objectives, assumptions, materials, anticipatory set, instructional input, guided practice, and assessment activity for each Primary Source Adventure. Materials can be shown on audio visual equipment in the classroom, or dowloaded and printed in either Adobe PDF or MS Word format.

If you would like to browse the PSA lessons by time period, click here.

American G.I. Forum

The American G.I. Forum explores the creation of a pivotal civil rights organization dedicated to pursuing equal rights for Hispanic Americans. This national organization was founded in Corpus Christi by Dr. Hector P. Garcia. Students will discover how this group successfully fought discrimation and segregation.

Battle of San Jacinto

The Battle of San Jacinto focuses on the victory that was the pivotal point of the Texas Revolution. To explore the battle, excerpts are taken from Jesse A. Ziegler’s When Texas Was Young, a Santa Anna order, and a Lynchburg Voter’s List analysis. Further depth is added by maps and modern photos. Plus, we also have an interactive painting of the Surrender of Santa Anna by William Huddle for students to explore!  

Buffalo Soldiers

Buffalo Soldiers examines the service of African Americans serving the U.S. Army during the late nineteenth century by using period accounts from Harpers Monthly and The Century. Students will learn about the perils of the cavalry patrol: extreme heat, dust, thirst, boredom, and bravery.

Building Texas: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Building Texas: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reveals the important role that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has had on Texas and America.

Cabeza de Vaca

Cabeza de Vaca tells the story of his lost years in the New World, as explorer, slave, trader, shaman, and surgeon. This Primary Source Adventure focuses on his time in Texas.

Charging into Battle with Hood's Texas Brigade

Charging into Battle with Hood's Texas Brigade draws students directly into the Civil War battle experience through a chilling account of a young man's first engagement in battle.

Coronado: Misfortune's Explorer

Coronado: Misfortune's Explorer portrays the debacles of Coronado and his men as they journey in search of "gold, God and glory." Students will learn about Spain's lust for gold, and the hapless adventurers pursuing it.

Failed Diplomacy: the Zimmermann Telegram

Failed Diplomacy: the Zimmermann Telegram examines the affect the telegram had on Texans and the role it played in bringing America into World War I. This PSA immerses learners in the debate and outrage over the telegram through newspaper articles, posters, and political cartoons.

Fort Wolters: Texas and Vietnam

Fort Wolters: Texas and Vietnam reveals a role that Texas played in training helicoptor pilots for the Vietnam War. Texas, with its abundant land and resources, has played host to numerous military bases in the past.

Galveston 1900: Storm of the Century

Galveston 1900: Storm of the Century focuses on the deadliest natural disaster in United States history, the Galveston hurricane of September 8, 1900. This PSA allows students to gain an understanding of the hurricane’s devastation and how the citizens of Galveston reacted and rebuilt.

Home Front: the United States during World War II

Home Front: the United States during World War II examines issues such as rationing, conservation, war production, and separation. Through oral histories and images, students will come to better understand the impact the war had on the United States and Texas.

Iwo Jima: Forgotten Valor

Iwo Jima: Forgotten Valor depicts the story of Charles W. Lindberg, a Texan who fought in the Pacific and is captured in this photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima. Read his stirring account of his experiences in the war, while exploring WWII posters and battle photos.

Life in the Civilian Conservation Corps

Life in the Civilian Conservation Corps examines the harsh realities of the Great Depression, and explores one path a young man might take to keep his family from starvation.
sam houston

Life of Sam Houston

Much is known about Sam Houston's political and military career, but his role as a family man and how these family influences helped shape Texas History has remained obscure. The Star of Destiny consists of a collection of personal letters between Houston and his wife Margaret Lea that offers insights into his life.

Lone Stars and Gun Smoke

Lone Stars and Gun Smoke illustrates the role the Texas Rangers played in maintaining law and order along the Texas-Mexico border. Students will explore the prevailing views of frontier justice through the eyes of Texas Ranger Captain, Dan W. Roberts.

Lorenzo de Zavala: Empresario, Statesman and Texas Revolutionary

Lorenzo de Zavala: Empresario, Statesman and Texas Revolutionary presents fascinating materials documenting the life of a Texas patriot and first interim Vice-President of the Republic of Texas. This content was supported in part by Humanities Texas.

Mier Expedition

The Mier Expedition delivers a first-hand view of the infamous black bean incident in Saltillo that determined which Texan prisoners would be executed on Santa Anna's orders.

Native Texans: Comanche and Wichita

This Primary Source Adventure illustrates the diversity of Texas Natives through the observations of the first United States Indian Agent in the region, a U.S Army officer, and an artist.

The Path to Revolution

The Path to Revolution examines the events leading up to the Texas Revolution. Materials for this adventure include excerpts from a Pictorial History of Texas, and numerous images. After completing this adventure, learners will understand the underlying conflicts for the coming Revolution.


Ranching is an iconic part of Texas history, and this lesson plan uses three oral histories as its primary sources and dramatic images. This view of everyday life on a Texas ranch will engage learners with first-hand accounts and will introduce them to the realities of life at the turn of the century.

Reconstructing Texas: 1866-1874

Reconstructing Texas: 1866-1874 takes an in-depth look at the conflicting attitudes and beliefs between military authorities and resistant Texas citizens who opposed any change to their social order. Period sources include William D. Woods's Reminiscences of Reconstruction in Texas.

Remember the Alamo

Remember the Alamo covers the quintessential event in Texas history, the Battle of the Alamo. It served to fire up the Texas revolutionaries who led the charge at the Battle of San Jacinto with cries of "Remember the Alamo."  Examine fascinating materials that bring this history alive.



Shelby County: the Regulator Moderator War

Shelby County: the Regulator Moderator War relates the events of one of the bloodiest feuds in Texas history. Students will understand the motivations and personalities that led to this fierce conflict.

Texas Annexation: United We Stand?

Texas Annexation: United We Stand? examines the controversy surrounding the Texas annexation question during the 1844 United States presidential election. Students will understand the difficulty in achieving annexation and can observe the growing divide between slave and free states. 
Texas Rangers posing for photograph

Texas Border Violence, 1910-1920

The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) had a profound effect on the civil society and security of Texas and bordering states.

Texas City Disaster

Texas City Disaster allows students to experience the devastation of April 16, 1947, when the worst industrial accident in U.S. history occurred in the port at Texas City. Two ships loaded with ammonium nitrate, the SS Grandcamp and the SS Highflyer, exploded causing over 500 deaths. 

Texas Revolution

The Texas Revolution examines the events of the Texas Revolution through a wealth of primary resources: Filisola's Evacuation of Texas, military maps of the Texas Revolution, History of the Revolution in Texas, letters from Lorenzo de Zavala, and the surrender terms signed by General Cos.