Digital Primary Sources

What are Primary Sources?

Updated 10/27/20

Primary sources are original items or records that have survived from the past, such as clothing letters, photographs, and manuscripts…they are part of a direct personal experience of a time or event. Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience (from The Library of Congress).

Why Use Primary Sources?

Primary sources provide a window into the past and unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period. Bringing young people into close contact with these unique, often profoundly personal, documents and objects can give them a very real sense of what it was like to be alive during a long-past era.

  • Engage Students
  • Develop Critical Thinking Skills
  • Construct Knowledge

Where Can I Find Digital Primary Sources?


Christine Schein
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