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Primary Sources   Tags: primary source, professional development  

Examining primary sources gives students a powerful sense of history. Helping students analyze primary sources can also guide them toward higher-order thinking and better critical thinking and analysis skills.
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Locating Primary Sources

  • Library of Congress
    The LOC is the largest library in the world, containing books, documents, photographs, music, videos, and other artifacts.
  • National Archives
    Is charged with preserving and documenting historical documents.
  • The American Memory Project
    Brought to you by the Library of Congress.
  • Primary Source Nexus
    This is a comprehensive, project-based learning program that uses digitized primary sources from the Library of Congress to foster student inquiry and personal connections
  • EuroDocs: Online Sources for European History
    The links connect to European primary historical documents that are transcribed, reproduced in facsimile, or translated.
    They shed light within the respective countries over a broad range of historical happenings (political, economic, social and cultural).
    The order of documents is chronological wherever possible, and may include video or sound files, maps, databases, and other documentation.
  • Internet History Sourcebooks Project
    From Fordham University: The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly (without advertising or excessive layout) for educational use.
  • Hanover History
    Presents texts from ancient to modern times. Material touches on the Crusaders, Italian Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, French Revolution, and many other topics.
  • Historical Newspapers (ProQuest)  
    Search full-text (with pictures) of The New York Times in graphical format back to 1764! Find primary documents that were written during the Civil War, World War II, and the civil rights movement.
  • World Digital Library
    An online repository of primary sources from over 70 countries. From the Library of Congress and UNESCO.
  • NYPL Digital Gallery
    NYPL Digital Gallery provides free and open access to over 800,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library's vast collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more.
  • Primary Source Village
    From the University of Illinois: Here, you’ll learn to understand the value and uses of primary sources and how to find them in the UIUC Archives.

    There are modules on finding sources, incorporating them into a research paper, and how to make sense of a primary source document by considering its creator and the context and purpose of its creation.
  • Our Documents: 100 Milestone Documents
    This is a list of 100 milestone documents, compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration, and drawn primarily from its nationwide holdings. The documents chronicle United States history from 1776 to 1965.
  • C-Span Classroom
    Free Primary Sources for Social Studies teachers.

What is a Primary Source?

Articles about Primary Sources

  • Beyond the Bubble
    Stanford University “goes beyond the bubble” by offering easy-to-use assessments that capture students’ knowledge in action – rather than their recall of discrete facts.
  • WWII After the War Photos
    From the Atlantic magazine.
  • Discovering Primary Sources
    From the Finding Dulcinea (SweetSearch) blog.
  • Teaching with Primary Sources
    Lesson Plans from the National Archives.
  • Incorporating Primary Sources in Your Classes
    From the Truman Library: An article by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) that provides a persuasive rationale for teaching with primary sources, including recordings, documents, maps, artifacts, among other materials. NARA writes: "Primary sources fascinate students because they are real and they are personal; history is humanized through them. Using original sources, students touch the lives of the people about whom history is written."
  • Historical Thinking Matters
    A website focused on key topics in U.S. history, that is designed to teach students how to critically read primary sources and how to critique and construct historical narratives.
  • Primary Sources Meet Free Web 2.0 Tools for Common Core Learning
    From the NYT Education section. This is a great article with tips of getting students to think deeply about these sources.
  • Getting Kids Engaged with Primary Sources
    From School Library Journal's Digital Shift, this article shares ideas on getting students excited about interacting with primary sources (not just reading).
  • The Primary Source Librarian
    The Primary Source Librarian is a friendly professional space where you can find information, advice, and support for teaching with primary sources. Check out the links to primary source collections, discover the best primary source lesson plans, learn what's happening in the world of digitization, explore the links you find in each post, and share your own primary source experiences!

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