Freedom & Captivity Primary Source Sets

Investigate incarceration through historic images, documents, artifacts, and sound recordings

Created by a collaboration between the Maine State Archives, Maine State Library, and Maine State Museum.






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Logos for Maine State Library, Maine State Archives, and Maine State Museum

What's in the packets?

The topics are designed for different grade levels, ranging from 3-12. Each packet includes:

  • A Teacher guide with recommendations on setting up the activity
  • An introduction with background information, recommended activities and reflections
  • Themed sets of Maine-based primary sources (documents, artifacts, sound recordings, and images)
  • Analysis Worksheets to guide students through working with primary sources

What are the themes?

Choose one or more big ideas to investigate with your students:

-What Kinds of People are in Prison? 

-Life in Prison

-Captivity Outside of Prison

-Working in Captivity

How to get started

Quick Lesson Summary

(Learn more in our Teacher Guide) Use the introductions for each theme to pick the topic and age level that you think will be a good fit for your students. Then:

  1. Present whatever historical context from the introduction you think is necessary.
  2. Give students a primary source (or allow them to choose one) to work with.
  3. Students fill out an analysis worksheet without any information but what they can gather from the source itself.
  4. Talk in groups or as a class about what they think the sources are, and how they relate to the topic.
  5. Give students the source labels so they can learn more about each item.
  6. Use the class reflection questions and optional activities in the introduction.

The Four Packets

Click the links to download materials

What Kinds of People are in Prison?


Standards Alignment

Grades 3-5

Grades 6-8

Grades 9-12

Trouble getting started?

Let us help in your classroom

Our educators are ready to provide you with any help you need as you work with your students. The video below provides an introduction to these materials and how to use them in the classroom. 

Recorded Teacher Webinar – Freedom & Captivity 

For help or to learn more, contact Lead Educator Kate Webber at


Project Interns:

-Devon Berkeley, Colby College

-Stella Margarita Gonzalez, Colby College

Content Editor: 

-Misa Beltran-Guzman, Colby College 

Partner Organizations: Maine State Archives, Maine State Library, Maine State Museum

Maine State Museum