Primary Sources: In Their Own Words
March 07, 2003
by Andrea Lipinski,
Young Adult Librarian,
Kingsbridge Regional Library
Primary sources are first-hand pieces of history. They can be documents, photographs, diaries, political cartoons, newspaper articles, recordings, or any other historical artifacts that were created at the time the history was being made. Primary sources make history come alive in a way that textbooks can't. They are essential for DBQs (document-based questions), exit projects, and anyone who wants to feel like living in the past.
History Firsthand (various titles and editors). Each book in this series contains first-person accounts that take readers into the personal experiences of people who lived during that time. Titles include The Middle Ages, The Civil War: The North, The Civil War: The South, The Great Depression, and Japanese Internment Camps.
Opposing Viewpoints (various titles and editors). This series of books consists of essays on both modern and historical topics. The titles on historical topics (The American History Series) contain essays written by contemporary sources. Titles include The Creation of the Constitution, The American Revolution, The Industrial Revolution, Slavery, Reconstruction, World War II, and The Civil Rights Movement.
Pages From History (various titles and editors). This series of books, subtitled “A History in Documents,” includes reproductions of documents, illustrations, photographs, engravings, posters, prints, and other sources. Titles include The Depression and New Deal, The Gilded Age, and The Struggle Against Slavery.
We Interrupt This Broadcast by Joe Garner. Book and double CD collection of audio broadcasts of original news reports. Broadcasts include the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the launch of Sputnik, the assassination of President Kennedy, and man's first walk on the moon.
EyeWitness: History Through the Eyes of Those Who Lived It -- Articles provide brief overviews of historical periods, followed by excerpts of primary sources for each one. The chronological index includes Ancient World, Middle Ages/Renaissance, Civil War, Old West, World War I and World War II.
Documents For the Study of American History -- Divided by chronological period, this site provides links to primary sources ranging from Columbus' journal entries all the way through to President Bush's speech to congress in September of 2001.
U.S. National Archives Exhibit Hall -- Includes documents, records, photographs, drawings, and posters from many aspects of American life. Exhibits include "Powers of Persuasion: Posters From World War II," "Picturing the Century," A New Deal For the Arts," and "The Charters of Freedom."
Primary Sources on Discovery and Exploration --A list of links to journals, letters, and other writings by explorers. Also includes maps and charters that are directly related to the history of exploration. The extensive list of explorers includes Daniel Boone, Christopher Columbus, Lewis & Clark, and Marco Polo.
Image Details: Three park employees catching a big snake, 1906. New York Zoological Park. Image ID: 810174. Source: The Picture Collection Online.