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Handout 1.3
Examining Primary and Secondary Sources

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Name: __________________________________________________

(1- Criteria for Defining Primary and Secondary Sources)


Primary sources:
Secondary sources:
  • created at the time of an event, or very soon after
  • created after event; sometimes a long time after something happened
  • created by someone who saw or heard an event themselves
  • often uses primary sources as examples
  • often one-of-a-kind, or rare
  • expresses an opinion or an argument about a past event
  • letters, diaries, photos and newspapers (may not always be primary sources)
  • history text books, historical movies and biographies (may not always be secondary sources)

2- Criteria for Examining Primary and Secondary Sources

  1. Who provided the information?
  2. Whose story is being told?
  3. Whose story isn't being told?
  4. What are possible biases of this source?
  5. What is the purpose of the information?
  6. Who is the audience for this information?
  7. Who might disagree with the source?

Additional questions from class discussion:

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