to Primary Sources
What are primary sources? How and why would we
use them in teaching and learning?
This activity is designed to help teachers and students understand
the difference between primary and secondary sources. With this knowledge,
you can create your own primary source material for future generations
Primary Sources are original works in various media formats such
as photographs, drawings, letters, diaries, documents, books, films,
posters, play scripts, speeches, songs, sheet music, and first-person
accounts that are recorded at the time of an event. Even tombstones
and tools are primary source artifacts.
are created by someone either not present when the event took place
or removed by time from the event. Examples
sources include textbooks, journal articles, histories, and encyclopedias.
Watch these short
videos from the Library of Congress American Memory Fellows Summer
Institute from 2001.
Many of the artifacts
on the Internet are in raw format without any supporting information.
Since primary sources are fragmentary, students may not relate
to these bits and pieces. This is when interrogation techniques
can be employed where students ask questions on their own terms
and begin to make sense of the artifacts.
Let's take a
peek behind the scenes at The Library of Congress in the Prints
and Photographs Division.
Maricia Battle, Curator
View this clip as Rosemary Plakas, Curator in Rare Books and Special
Collections at The Library of Congress tells the story about this
pattern for slippers.
for the sick and wounded soldiers of the Union
Click here to see the item in the American Memory collection
Maps also provide us with much more than geographical perspectives.
Some maps are considered pieces of art, others provide us with all
sorts of information like names of residents, and still others show
military battles. Learn about powder horn maps from Patricia van
Ee, one of the curators in the Geography and Map Division at The
Libary of Congress. She also describes a creative use of maps by
a former merchant.
Powder Horn Map
of New York