New Smithsonian Primary Sources in U.S. History: Lively, First Person, and Real

Posted on May 26, 2016

Primary sources have been called snippets of history – small windows that show a picture of one moment in time. A letter, a memoir, a personal account – each provides a unique, often personal perspective. And when they are put together in a meaningful way, they create a full and rich picture of historical events, people, and developments while supporting national learning standards.

By directly engaging with artifacts and individual records, students can explore, analyze, and delve more deeply into a topic.  In addition, primary sources help students:

  • Develop critical thinking skills by examining meaning, context, bias, purpose, point of view, and more.
  • Pursue independent learning as they construct knowledge by interacting with sources that represent different accounts of the same event/topic.
  • Understand how viewpoints and biases affect interpretation of history.

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