Comprehensive Curriculum Links Unit 3
Activity 4: Primary and Secondary Sources (GLEs: 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51)
Materials List: various examples of primary and secondary sources (photographs, clothing, news articles, etc.), Primary Sources BLM
Before beginning the lesson, the teacher needs to gather the following primary and secondary sources from different time periods: photographs of buildings, people, clothes, and activities; and maps, diaries, articles of clothing, advertisements, magazines, etc.
Discuss with students how we record our history. The teacher should bring to the discussion the fact that most of our history is written down in books, but that we have many things in our culture that also let us discover our history. Ask students to identify other ways (oral and visual) that they think history is recorded. Tell students that we use primary and secondary sources to discover what has happened in the past, and define the two sources for them.
Write the following on the blackboard: photographs, works of art, encyclopedias, tombstones, videos, interviews, speeches, music, maps, blueprints, architectural drawings, advertisements, textbooks, cookbooks, journals, letters, diaries, clothes, and periodicals. Explain the difference between primary and secondary sources. Have students create a “T” chart like the one below and identify primary and secondary sources from the list on the chalkboard.
Discuss the choices the students made and why each item falls into a specific category.
In cooperative groups, have students examine the examples of primary and secondary sources to discover the significance each one brings to history.
Have students create a working history pictorial journal. The students will include the activities below in their journals:
Civil War Women: Primary Sources on the Internet
Vermilion Parish Schools (Louisiana)