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Choosing primary sources


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What are primary sources,how to choose the appropriate ones for your investigation.

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Choosing primary sources

  1. 1. ChoosingPrimary SourcesMary Jane GuerraThe History Site
  2. 2. What is a Primary Source?A primary source is a document or object writtenor created during the time that is being studied.These sources were present during a certain timeperiod and offer an insightful view of a particularevent.
  3. 3. Types of Primary SourcesSome types of primary sources include:Original documents: Diaries, speeches, manuscripts,letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies,official records. For example, Anna Frank’s diary.Creative works: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art.Relics or artifacts: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings.Adapted from
  4. 4. How do I know it is a PrimarySource?Authors How does the author know what he/she knows? Does his/her knowledge stem from personalexperience or having witnessed an event? Does the author cite several other (published) reports?
  5. 5. Content Why is the information being provided or the article written? Are there references to other writings on this topic?Currency/Timeliness Is the date of publication evident? Is the date of publication close to the event described?Adapted from:
  6. 6. Choosing the right onesWhen choosing primary sources for your investigation,keep the following questions in mind: Interest – What is the topic of the primary source? Is itsomething that can relate to your investigation? Variety of Sources – How many sources can youfind related to the topic in question? Journal entries,newspaper articles, political cartoons, speeches. Accessibility – How easy is it to access thedocuments? Can you obtain them online?
  7. 7.  Length – How long will it take you to read and analyzethe document? Varied Perspectives – Am I being objective? Am Iusing enough sources to show differentperspectives? Intended Purpose – How will you be using thedocument in your research? Is the document useful tothat purpose?
  8. 8. Where to get these Sources? Article and Newspaper Databases – NY Times Local Archive Sources – Museums Public Web Sources – Universities
  9. 9. Contact me Google Plus: The History Twitter: @wargirl007 Facebook: Visionaire Website: E-mail: