Using Primary Sources
- What is a primary source? (Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period. A primary source reflects the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer.)
- Why use primary sources? (Primary sources allow you to get as close as possible to the historical event or time period)
- What are some types of primary sources? Diaries, journals, speeches, interviews, letters ,and other published materials that were written at the time of the event, photographs, and artifacts are samples of primary sources.)
- Identify the type of document (photograph, letter, diary, political cartoon, etc.), the document's author, and its date of creation.
- What is the message of the document?
- Identify elements of the document content
- If analyzing a photograph, identify people, material objects, and activities evident in the photo.
- Based on your interpretation of the document, what do you think the (writer/photographer) intended to reveal to the audience?
- Consider the relationship between the document and historical event(s).
- To whom is the document addressed (audience)?
- Why was it written? (If a photograph, why was it taken?)
- What questions does it raise for you?
Using the above photograph complete the following
- Identify the type of document, and provide its author and date of creation. (The type of document is a photograph and the author and date of creation are unknown. We know the setting was during the Civil War, so an estimate of the date can be between 1861-1865.)
- What is the message of the document? (The message of this document focuses on the conditions the American soldiers had to endure during the Civil War.)
- Identify people, material objects, and activities. (From this photograph, you can see the following: tents, a fence, marching soldiers, houses that seem to have been ruined by war, and dirt.)
- Based on your interpretation of the document, what do you think the photographer intended to show the audience? (This photographer wanted to show the audience the living conditions of American soldiers during war. You can see the small tents, which provide little heat in the winter months, the houses that were ravaged by the war, and the solitude of camp life.)
- Consider relationships between the document and historical events. Who is the intended audience? (This photograph is addressing the men and women that did not fight in the American Civil War.)
- Why was it taken? (This photograph was taken to show the way in which American soldiers were living during the Civil War. The photographer was trying to show the emptiness of camp life.)
- What questions does it raise for you? (How many soldiers lived in this camp? How many soldiers lived in a tent? What did they do to keep themselves busy? What happened to the houses in the background?)
Now, It's Your Turn