eDay Lesson #3

eDay Lesson #3: Primary/Secondary Sources (DUE two weeks after school resumes)
By the end of this lesson you will be able to:
1. Describe the difference between a primary and secondary source.
2. Accurately analyze several important primary sources from our past.
Step 1: Read the following document to determine the difference between a primary and secondary source:
HOW TO... Distinguish between primary and Secondary Sources
Primary Sources:
A primary source is a firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation.
Primary sources are written or created during the time period being studied, or by a person directly
involved in the event. The nature and value of the sources cannot be determined without reference to
the topic and question it is meant to answer. Primary sources offer an inside view of a particular event
or time period. Some types of primary sources are:
Original Documents                           Creative Works                                  Artifacts
Diaries                                                Novels                                                             Jewelry
Speeches                                             Music                                                  Tools
Letters                                                Films                                                   Pottery
Minutes                                              Visual Art                                            Clothing
Interviews                                           Poetry                                                             Buildings
Research Data                                                Performing Arts                                  Furniture
News Film Footage
Diary of Ann Frank - experience of Jews in World War II; The Declaration of Independence - United
States History; Arrowheads and pottery - Native American history
Secondary Sources
A Secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. Secondary sources are one step
removed from the primary sources. Some types of secondary sources are:
Textbooks, Journal Articles, Histories, Criticism, Commentaries, Encyclopedias and Biographies.
Thomas Jefferson: A Life - a biography of Thomas Jefferson; The Encyclopedia of Education - brief
treatments of educational topic; Introduction to Psychology - Psychology textbook
Primary Sources on the Web
These are some examples of sites where you can find primary sources.
American Memory
The Library of Congress's National Digital Library contains more than 40 collections, which feature
historical photos, maps, documents, letters, speeches, recordings, videos, prints, and more.
Documenting the American South
This electronic text archive from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill contains primary
source slavery narratives and first-person narratives of the South as well as a digitized library of
southern literature. http://metalab.unc.edu/docsouth/
National Museum of American Art
This museum site offers online exhibitions of American art. http://nmaa-ryder.si.edu/

Step 2:
When finished reading the above document, determine what kind of source each of the following would be considered.  Write your answers on a sheet
of paper.
1. Textbook
2. Magazine article
3. Letter written by President Lincoln
4. Interview of an eyewitness to an event
5. Biography written about President Obama
Step 3: Analyze the following document below (Zimmerman Telegram) using the following criteria:
Record your analysis on a sheet of paper.
Document Analysis Worksheet
1. Type of document (check one)
___ Newspaper ___ Letter ___ Diary
___ Government Report ___ Interview ___ Legal document
___ Debate transcription ___ Jesuit relation ___ Index
___ Memoir ___ Other
2. Date(s) of document or speech:
3. Author (or creator) of the document or speech:
4. What do you know about the background of the author(s)?
5. Who do you think this document was written for?
6. What is the topic or issue of the document?
Document Information: (There are many possible answers to these questions)
7. List three things the author said that you think are important:
8. Why do you think this document was written?
9. What evidence in the document helps you know why it was written? Give an example from the document to support your opinion.
10. List two things the document tells you about life at the time the document was written:
11. Write a question to the author that is left unanswered by the document.
When finished, bring your answers to Step 2 and your analysis of the primary source to school when school resumes.