Primary Sources Made Easy

Primary Sources Made Easy

Primary Sources: GetArchive for Teachers
Visual framework for faculty and students

Primary Sources vs. The Law

Primary sources are artifacts created by individuals during a particular period in history: such as letter, speech, photograph or journal entry. The Common Core Learning Standards describe the importance of teaching students how to comprehend informational text. Students, not teachers, are those who are asked to “read closely, make inferences, cite evidence, analyze arguments and interpret words and phrases” as they are used in a text.

But there was a huge problem: It is time-consuming even for a teacher to find and prepare primary sources for lessons. In real life, it is often teachers, not students who search and develop primary sources for the classroom. With GetArchive it is not a problem anymore!

With the GetArchive’s new product, it is not an issue anymore! Keep reading…

Fair Use Exemption

Teachers may not realize that, but when citing primary sources, they operate under U.S. copyright law Fair Use exemption umbrella.

The Fair Use exemption is a complicated legal concept. In plain English, it allows teachers to use copyrighted materials if ALL of the following conditions are met:

  • The materials are used in class (meaning physical classroom, not a distant education),
  • The materials are used in a non-profit educational environment (meaning it is not OK if your educational institution is for-profit),
  • You can legally use No more than five images by a single artist or a photographer.
  • Images: No more than 15 images or 10 percent of any collection, whichever is less, may be used (it is not entirely clear what “collection” means).
  • Video: Must be a legal copy, not a bootleg or a home recording; Must be used in a classroom or nonprofit environment “dedicated to face-to-face instruction”, not online! Video use should be instructional, not for entertainment or reward. And it is OK only if “replacements are unavailable at a fair price or in a viable format.”
  • Music: Can be reproduced only if up to 10 percent of a composition; Should be performed and displayed not separately but a part of a multimedia program produced by educators or students. A maximum of 30 seconds per musical composition may be used.

Do you think you never breached the law? Complicated, isn’t it?

Why Public Domain?

GetArchive resolved the Fair Use exemption limitations with two bold moves:

  • First, GetArchive created an enormous set of primary source materials that are in public domain. With public domain sources, there is no need to hide under Fair Use exemption umbrella. GetArchive’s source materials can be used anywhere, without any restrictions. Read below on the revolutionary changes in teaching and studying it leads to…
  • Second, GetArchive made it possible not only for an adult or high school student but for a student of any grade to search for primary sources using


In 2016 GetArchive created the largest public domain media bank and search engine with more than 6 Million Objects: all Public domain, free to use, with no copyright restrictions.

PICRYL makes millions of public domain media objects from the Library of Congress, NASA, the Internet Archive and hundreds of other sources readily available in one place. PICRYL is a primary source search engine and slideshow player in one.

With PICRYL anyone can create and share collections, slideshows, videos. All Free and Legal! And, It’s as easy as sharing selfie set in social networks of your choice.

What’s Now?

Since all the sources now come from the public domain, the resulting media, such as slideshows and videos, created by the teacher or by they students, can be published and freely distributed anywhere.

It means that in addition to lesson plans and lists of sources, the resulting presentations can be legally shared, including online.

Just imagine what you can do now if you want:

  • Ask your students to find and prepare sources for your class;
  • Ask your students to create collections and ask other students to vote for the best.
  • Save the best slideshows online, export them to youtube, share on any social platform.
  • Have your own, your class, school, and district work saved and available for future use so new students can both search for new sources and build upon previous students work. Yo can choose to keep the best or have everything archived. You can decide to make it public or limit access.

What’s Next?

GetArchive is working hard to make it even easier to create and share school content.

We want to make it possible that student’s and teacher’s presentations can be set available for online publishing. We want to create spaces where faculty and students from other parts of the world can see and can vote to decide who made the best story on a particular topic. We want to incorporate challenges and competitions, sponsorships and donations…

Picryl is just a start. Keep tuned!

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