Reading and Analyzing Texts
Primary and Secondary Sources
In selecting sources for students to use, it is important to consider how well these sources provide evidence for claims that answer the essential question of the investigation. But some sources might be more useful than others when it comes to answering the essential question. Consider the types of sources common to the discipline of history: primary sources and secondary sources.
Primary sources are the “raw materials” for constructing interpretations about events in the past. These sources were created by people who experienced the events during a certain time period under study and who have direct knowledge of what was occurring at the time. Primary sources can be artifacts, documents, or recordings and can take the form of newspaper articles, diaries, speeches, and housing records. While this course focuses on literacy with written texts, other documents such as images, photos, and prints can also be used as primary sources since they too were created by people who lived at the time under study or participated in the events that they comment on. There are numerous ways to find primary sources that can be used within classroom historical investigations. (Unit 8 has support for this.)