One of the great things about the Internet is its ability
to transmit primary source documents right into our classrooms!
Archives and museums are constantly digitizing photos, diaries,
notes, manuscripts, and more. The sites below will give you
a start as you begin to search for appropriate primary source
Library of Congress is the best place to start.
Archives Digital Classroom is impressive.
Vaults is a Flash powered site where kids can create
posters and movies with primary sources.
Sense of Evidence is a learning site that helps students
better understand primary sources and how to use them/how
they are used.
Primary Source from Sharon, Connecticut- a
Diary of an Enlisted Man (Civil War)
Connecticut History Sources
A collection of 15,000 digital primary sources developed
to serve the needs of students, scholars and the general
public; a joint effort of the Connecticut Historical Society,
the Connecticut State Library, Mystic Seaport, and the Thomas
J. Dodd Research Center.
Why Use Primary Sources?
1. By reading and analyzing primary source documents,
students are able to arrive at their own conclusions based
on their understanding of the documents. This empowers students
as they find themselves in the roles of historians. Indeed,
they will often find contradictions between the views expressed
in a document and the material they have read in a textbook.
This can inspire students to conduct further research into
the area they are studying.
2. Use of primary source documents can enhance
student understanding of a historical time period. Primary
sources provide windows into the daily lives of individuals
living in the past. An analysis of documents can reinforce
the themes and content learned from the textbook or in class
3. Another useful strategy when using primary
source documents is the use of two or more documents that
represent varying viewpoints on the same issue. There are
many opportunities for teachers to develop lessons using two
or more documents. Any of the classroom strategies described
above can be employed with multiple documents. For example,
students could read newspaper articles published in the Revolutionary
War period from America and Great Britain to better understand
the feelings on both sides of the Atlantic.
Additional Sites of Interest