Primary Sources

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Primary sources are the very documents that history is made of, the images that science is based on, the raw material of our lives. They are also excellent tools to teach the critical thinking skills required by the Common Core State Standards and the C3 Framework for Social Studies.

OneHistory has a lot of primary source material for you. And now, the founders have written a book that explains in detail the strategies you can use to make primary sources come alive for your students, using fascinating photographs and powerful primary source texts.Because it is geared to students in elementary and middle schools--or older students who are beign introduced to primary sources for the first time--it emphasizes sources that do not require advanced reading skills--images and personal voices such as diaries, letter, journals and oral histories.

You'll find other resources when you scroll down this page. There's help for finding primary sources and what to do when you find them. We have printable posters with questions for classroom discussion, and pages of important primary source text. Except for the book, which you can order from Capstone Publishing, it's all free.

Excerpts from Examining the Evidence
Get a sense of what this book is about and whether it could help you teach with primary sources in your classroom.
Excerpt 1: From Strategy 3--Look for Bias
Excerpt 2. From Strategy 4--Examine Closely the Source Itself

Foreword by Sam Wineburg
Read the foreword to the book, written by eminent scholar in the field of history education Sam Wineburg.
Reviews of Examining the Evidence
See what teachers and other reviewers have to say about the book
Support Material
The book containsimages and text from many sources. We've included a number of photographs from our own collection. We've posted high-resolution versions of those images here as part of our printable posters collection.

Seven Strategies Poster
The book presents seven strategies for examining, analyzing and interpreting any primary source. Here is a printable poster of the strategies for your classroom.

Other Primary Source Materials and References
on OneHistory

Multiple-Source Teaching Units
(with high-resolution images)

Dust Bowl
Working in the Mills
One-Room Schoolhouses
Little Rock Nine

Primary Sources and Resources for Finding Primary Sources

The Best Places to Look for Historical Images Online

Some Good World History Sources

Free Downloadable, Printable Classroom Posters

Founding Documents Full text of the Declarartion, the Preamble, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Amendments 11 -27.

Great Speeches by Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Chief Joseph, and more

Candidates for a Primary Sources Library

Finding Primary Sources Online (pdf)

Major Visual Collections (pdf)

Miscellaneous Resources

Primary Sources: What to Use and When to Use It (pdf)

Some World History Sites with Primary Sources