Primary Sources

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					Primary Sources

 …valuable resources that
 you don’t want to overlook!
What are primary sources?

    Primary sources are the original items
 or records that have survived from the
 past. They are part of a direct personal
 experience of a time or event. Letters,
 manuscripts, photographs, articles of
 clothing and sheet music are all examples
 of primary sources.
What are secondary sources?

    Secondary sources, usually written
 after an event takes place, are created by
 documenting someone else’s experience
 to provide a perspective for a past event.
 The sources we use most frequently are
 often secondary sources -- encyclopedias,
 textbooks, magazines, biographies, and
 documentary movies.
Kinds of Primary Sources

Published documents
Unpublished documents
Visual documents
Oral histories and traditions
Published documents are
created for wide audiences.

Books            Maps
Magazines        Pamphlets
Newspapers       Posters
Government       Sheet music
 documents        Manuscripts
Reports          Ordinances
Examples of Published
Unpublished documents are
seldom meant to be read by the
public and can be difficult to find.

Letters and diaries   Land surveys
Journals              Census data
Wills                 Family Bibles
Deeds                 Research files
Financial ledgers     Speeches
Meeting minutes       Police & court records
Architectural         Tax and voter records
Examples of Unpublished
  Visual documents capture
      moments in time.

They demonstrate the changes in cultures
 and customs.
They present the point of view of the
 creator -- a photographer, filmmaker,
 painter, or sculptor.
Photographs, posters, film, video, fine art
 paintings and sculptures are visual
 documents .
Examples of Visual
Recordings include...

Oral histories
Popular lyrics
Famous political speeches
Broadcasts from radio or TV
Examples of Recorded
Oral Histories and Traditions

This is cultural or historical information
 passed from generation to generation
 through the spoken word. Life history
 interviews may also include a variety of
 songs and narratives as well as accounts
 of ethnic traditions for planting, cooking,
 marriage, death, celebrations, and
Examples of Oral Histories
    and Traditions

Artifacts are objects that have survived
 from times past -- some for thousands of
 years -- that supply a concrete link to our
 past. Any items representing daily life or
 significant events of a former era such as
 weapons, tools, inventions, and clothing
 are considered artifacts.
Examples of Artifacts
How reliable are
            primary sources?

Every document, visual, recording, or
 artifact has a creator and every creator
 has a point of view. When using any
 source, even the original, it is important
 to remember this.
However, the more often something is
 repeated, the less accurate and
 trustworthy it becomes. Therefore going
 directly to the primary source is preferred.
Why use primary sources?

Most of what happens in the past is either
 never documented or destroyed. What
 does remain gives us valuable clues about
 life before our time.
Conscientious researchers examine
 primary resources themselves as well as
 taking advantage of the explanations,
 suggestions and criticisms made by
 scholars in secondary sources.
Resource for this Power Point

“The Learning Page.” American Memory:
    Historical Collections for the National
    Digital Library. 9-26-02. The Library
   of Congress. 10-2502. http://memory.
Robinson, James Harvey. “The Historical
   Point of View.” Readings in European
   History. Boston: Ginn, 1904.

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