Re: definitions for primary sources. A good place to start with students is
to define a primary source as an eyewitness account. It's a record of what
someone actually saw, heard, tasted, smelled, felt or somehow experienced
firsthand. A secondary source is someone else's interpretation of those
These definitions are straightforward, and can lead easily into two key
discussions: the reliability of primary sources (do we trust the account of
what the person says he/she saw, heard, etc.) and the gray area between
primary and secondary sources, e.g., in what way is a 19th century newspaper
article a primary source? in what ways is it a secondary source?
I've found that this approach effectively helps students tease out the
Hope this helps,
From: Monica R. Edinger <[log in to unmask]>
To: Multiple recipients of list AMFELLOWS <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Friday, July 09, 1999 7:36 AM
Subject: primary sources definition
>I'm sitting here at my computer constantly surfing the Net in order to
>avoid my major summer project -- a book for grades 4-8 teachers on using
>primary sources in their teaching. At the moment I'm developing a working
>definition of "primary sources" and looking for good, clear (nothing
>overly academic) definitions in other publications. If any of you know of
>a really great resource for this I'd be most grateful.
>Thanks so much.
>The Dalton School
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