“The Matthew Brady Bunch: Civil War Newspapers” is a series of lesson activities that ultimately has students produce their own newspaper articles on different aspects of the Civil War as a larger class project. Created by Amy Donnelly and Elizabeth Ridgway for American Memory, the project is intended for students in the seventh grade, though it can easily be adapted. The activities require students to use a selection of the Library of Congress’ collection of Civil War photographs, first to analyze the primary sources before choosing one for their article. Eventually the goal is for students to produce a website, or an online archive, for their “newspaper”.
Meant to take place over several days (possibly a week), the project can be modified to suit individual class needs. One example of such a modification would make the project interdisciplinary, in conjunction with English class. The “Matthew Brady Bunch” project acts as a good way to end a unit on the Civil War, allowing a class to cover a wide range of events, people, or places. In addition, the project requires students to work with primary sources, develop research skills, and improve writing skills.