Primary Source Learning: The U.S. Capitol and the Events of January 6, 2021

The Peace Monument located in Peace Circle on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol

Primary sources are the perfect avenue to help explore and investigate the events of January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol as well as those that preceded it and those that followed it. Below we have compiled numerous resources to assist in deepening understanding of our past and present in the hopes that we can better address the future.


Many different words were used to describe the events of January 6, 2021. Before beginning an investigation, consider digging into and discussing some of those terms (all links except the last are from Merriam Webster).

Selecting Sources

As you consider how you will incorporate primary sources into the learning, consider reviewing the following posts and articles.

If you decide to include contemporary news coverage, consider using the following resources to guide you.

Source Analysis

When analyzing primary sources that documented the events of the day, be sure to guide students in analyzing the sources. Not only should they make observations (statements about things that they see and can point to) and reflections (thoughts or feelings based on those observations) but they should also consider the viewpoints, perspectives, and purposes of source creators. Below are some resources to help.

Historical Context

Investigating relevant events from history provides students with additional context that can lead to deeper understanding of contemporary events and enable more critical reflection on possible steps to take in the future. Below are some sources to help in this endeavor. Also see Putting the Riots into Historical Context from 6 Ways to Help Students Make Sense of the Capitol Siege Education Week January 13, 2021 (scroll to access the sections).

The Aftermath

What has happened since that defining day in U.S. History? Use the resources below to help you and your students investigate and explore further.