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Source analysis guidelines:

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U.S. National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) analysis worksheets for written documents; maps; artifacts; photographs

The Library of Congress has a variety of teaching materials at The Learning Page,
including an introduction to using primary sources; on-line workshops about primary sources, and media analysis tools

The Center for History and New Media (CHNM)
has guides for analyzing different kinds of sources

How to Use Primary Sources

Primary sources are the raw material of history, the evidence that historians collect and interpret to make sense of the past. Without a clear historical and interpretive context, however, such materials can be difficult to analyze. For elementary classrooms, see the guidelines developed for younger students. For middle and highschool students please consult our AP PARTS Guide or the links to the right.

Using primary sources can be both very rewarding and challenging. For many students, first-hand accounts, such as diaries and letters, bring to life moments and individuals long gone. These materials offer a sense of immediacy and engagement with the past.

To understand these sources fully, a student, teacher, or reseacher must first pose a number of questions. To help students, there are guidelines with grade-level appropriate questions for general source analysis, as well as specific handouts to accompany sources featured in the lesson plans.

To the right is a list of web sites featuring excellent source analysis guidelines, most notably those of the United States National Archives and Records Administration and the Center for History and New Media. These templates, as well as the handouts designed to accompany many of the sources on this site, can be used directly or easily adapted to individual classrooms.