The importance of primary sources to students

Does the author agree or disagree with other authors of the subject? Participants and eyewitnesses may misunderstand events or distort their reports, deliberately or not, to enhance their own image or importance.

Roosevelt, as they look at WPA administrators' reports on economic conditions in Pennsylvania and Oregon, or as they listen to recordings of government-produced radio dramas, they weigh the significance of these sources against such generalizations as that provided by Todd and Curti: "The most urgent task that Roosevelt faced when he took office was to provide food, clothing, and shelter for millions of jobless, hungry, cold, despairing Americans.

Essential among these skills is the ability to understand and make appropriate use of many sources of information.

Characteristics of secondary sources

In most cities and towns, local historical groups, preservation societies, and museums serve as excellent starting points for classes locating documentary materials about local communities. Who is the intended audience? Develop critical thinking skills Using primary source require you to be both critical and analytical as you read and examine documents and objects. The use of primary sources exposes students to important historical concepts. For a biography of a historian, that historian's publications would be primary sources. Using detective work as a metaphor for introducing primary sources and the central role they play in creating those secondary accounts can be useful. Historians studying the modern period with the intention of publishing an academic article prefer to go back to available primary sources and to seek new in other words, forgotten or lost ones.

Understand the continuum of history… It is difficult for students to understand that we all participate in making history everyday, that each of us in the course of our lives leave behind primary source documentation that scholars years hence may examine as a record of "the past.

Consider that primary sources about the same event can directly contradict, that they can contain antiquated or complex prose, and that the background knowledge necessary to understand a primary source can be substantial; and it definitely makes sense that your students balk at using them.

primary source questions

Arthur Marwick says "Primary sources are absolutely fundamental to history. Examples in which a source can be both primary and secondary include an obituary [21] or a survey of several volumes of a journal counting the frequency of articles on a certain topic.

What are the bases of the author's conclusions?

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What are primary sources?