For thousands of years, Historians have relied on a series of methods to uncover the past that rely on primary sources. As students begin or continue to learn history, it is vital for them to have a rich understanding of how and where to get their information. Primary and secondary sources allow students and historians to take a look into the past or explore how past historical events and figures have been perceived. In order to make authentic and meaningful connections to the past, students must use primary sources to get a first-hand account of the people, events, conflicts, ideas, and themes that have occurred in the past.
Document: A letter written by President Abraham Lincoln in November 1864 to a widow living in Boston, Massachusetts, who was thought to have lost five sons in the Union Army during the American Civil War.
Dear Madam,-- I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully, A. Lincoln
Document: A Time Magazine article from 1991 about the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack
Day Of Infamy
Answer: The letter written by President Lincoln, otherwise known as the Bixby Letter, is a primary source document. This is a primary source document because this is the exact letter that was written in 1864 without any alterations made to it.
Document: A photograph of you and your friend at your 6th birthday party that you view on your new phone.
Primary or Secondary Source: Identification Activity
Answer: The Time Magazine article from 1991 about the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack is a secondary source document. The main reason why this is a secondary source is because it is a summary of the events that took place 50 year prior to the article. The author of the article was not at the event which makes this a secondary source.
Document: A box of tea that was recreated to resemble a box of tea from the Boston Team Party. This box of tea is on display at your local museum.
Answer: The photograph of you and your friend at your 6th birthday party is a primary source. This photograph fits the criteria of a primary source because it is the same image that was taken on the day of your birthday. Although you are using a new phone as the medium to look at this picture, the picture itself hasn't changed and retains its authenticity.
Answer: Although the box of tea may resemble an exact box of tea thrown of tea that was thrown into Boston Harbor during the famous Boston Tea Party, because it is not an authentic box, it is a secondary source.