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Examining the Evidence Breaks New Ground in Using Primary Sources with Younger Students

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – May 7, 2014 – Capstone Professional, publisher of professional development resources and services for preK-12 educators, announces the publication of Examining the Evidence: Seven Strategies for Teaching with Primary SourcesThe latest book by acclaimed visual historians Hilary Mac Austin and Kathleen Thompson tackles the difficult and timely issue of teaching younger students (K-8) to think critically, using photographs, artifacts, and text documents to ask questions, analyze assumptions, and evaluate information. Examining the Evidence directly addresses the requirements of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) with strategies teachers can use to make primary sources come alive for students.

Examining the Evidence is also a powerful tool for teaching visual literacy, another skill emphasized in the CCSS and one that is vital in our visually oriented world. The book includes more than 60 powerful images chosen for their appeal for young learners and for their usefulness as primary sources in social studies, history, science, and reading. The authors’ website features a selection of downloadable images from the book that can be used in articles and reviews.

“The seven strategies outlined in our book can be applied at every grade level, in almost every subject.  Pre-readers can learn to question and interpret, starting with images and artifacts from other cultures, then move on to ‘personal voice’ documents such as children’s diaries and letters as they begin to read, and later apply the skills they’ve learned to more sophisticated primary sources,” said author Kathleen Thompson.

Sam Wineburg, professor of education and history at Stanford University and one of the leading figures in history education today, writes in the book’s foreword: “The book you are holding demands that we learn to see differently, to weigh possibilities, to question more precisely, to argue for our interpretation, and justify our interpretation cogently and convincingly. Primary sources are means to a higher end—one that applies not only to the social studies, but to every single subject in the curriculum. The book you are holding teaches students how to think.”

“It’s very difficult to find grade-appropriate primary sources for the early grades. This book not only highlights engaging and unique primary sources, but it also includes standards-aligned instruction for grades K-8. This instruction will be sure to enhance critical thinking and visual learning skills as teachers invite history into the classroom,” said Capstone Professional Acquisitions Editor Karen Soll.

In a free, upcoming webinar, “You Don’t Know What You’re Missing! How to Really Look at a Primary Source,” the authors will demonstrate how to help students extract every bit of information from a primary source. Educators can register for this 30-minute webinar at: Previews of the book, including a downloadable chapter, table of contents, and foreword are available at

Hilary Mac Austin and Kathleen Thompson have co-authored three previously published visual histories, including The Face of Our Past: Images of Black Women from Colonial America to the Present (Indiana University Press, 1999), of which Henry Louis Gates, Jr., said "These historic photographs . . . not only illumine the past, they explain the present and inspire the future." The Face of Our Past was featured on Oprah, as well as in USA Today and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Examining the Evidence: Seven Strategies for Teaching with Primary Sources

By Hilary Mac Austin and Kathleen Thompson

ISBN: 978-1-62521-630-4

$24.95 paperback

164 pages

e-Book ISBN: 978-1-62521-936-7

$19.95 e-Book

Pub Date: May 2014


About the Authors

Hilary Mac Austin has been working in the fields of visual history and educational development for 20 years. She has been the primary photo researcher as well as a writer and editor for a number of publications, including Jewish Women in America: An Historical EncyclopediaThe History of Black Women in America, the second edition of Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, and the Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present. She has served as image lead and project manager of digital assets for a number of educational programs.

Kathleen Thompson has been a writer for 40 years. She is the author of the feminist classic Against Rape, co-written with Andra Medea, and the first narrative history of black women in America, A Shining Thread of Hope, co-written with Darlene Clark Hine. She is also an award winning playwright and the author of hundreds of children’s books, including volumes for both the Hispanic Biographies series and the Portraits of America series. In addition she has worked in the field of educational publishing since 1975 and was a founder of the educational development house Sense and Nonsense.


About Capstone Professional

Capstone Professional publishes educational resources under the imprint of Maupin House. Their materials support K-12 educators as they create 21st century classrooms and respond to the demands of state and national standards, such as the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and the Next Generation Science Standards. Capstone Professionalfocuses on topics such as reading comprehension, close reading, writing in the content areas, teaching with graphics in the classroom, and creating safe school environments. Capstone Professional authors are educators and consultants, teachers and experts in their fields. A tenet for Capstone Professional is to support teachers, administrators, content-area specialists, students, and parents in becoming engaged in content and excited about learning. Professional development offerings by Capstone Professional range from webinars and workshops to conference speakers and author visits. Submissions for products that speak to the needs of educators today are always accepted. For more information, visit or