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 Kinds of Primary Sources Published documents Unpublished documents Visual documents Recordings Oral histories and traditions Artifacts Published documents are created for wide audiences. Books Magazines Newspapers Government documents Reports Advertisements Maps Pamphlets Posters Sheet music Manuscripts Ordinances Examples of Published Documents Unpublished documents are seldom meant to be read by the public and can be difficult to find. Letters and diaries Journals Wills Deeds Financial ledgers Meeting minutes Architectural drawings Blueprints Land surveys Census data Family Bibles Research files Speeches Police & court records Tax and voter records Examples of Unpublished Documents Visual documents capture moments in time.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 Documents Recordings include... Oral histories Interviews Music Popular lyrics Famous political speeches Broadcasts from radio or TV Examples of Recorded Documents 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 recreation. Examples of Oral Histories and Traditions Artifacts 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. loc.gov/ammem/nd/ped/index/html. Robinson, James Harvey. “The Historical Point of View.” Readings in European History. Boston: Ginn, 1904.