History classes often involve a lot of memorization and taking tests. Still, you can show off your research skills and make history come alive in your essay. To do this, you must find primary sources to back up the points you earn. Primary sources are evidence of the period you are studying; they can be letters, documents, photographs, and other records of the era. Using primary sources can make your essay more interesting and give it a more personal touch.
Now that you know what primary sources are let’s talk about how to find them.
The first step in finding primary sources is to do some research. Find out who wrote about the period you’re studying, what documents were created during that time, and if any photographs or other records exist from that era. You can also look for interviews and memoirs from people who lived during that period. The library, the internet, and archives are all great places to start your search.
Once you know what kind of sources you’re looking for, you can begin digging! Finding primary sources to use in your history essay can make the process more exciting and engaging. Researching primary sources can help you better understand the period you’re studying and give your piece a more personal touch. With a little bit of digging, you’ll be able to find the evidence you need to make your essay stand out.
What is a primary source?
There are two main types of sources when it comes to research: primary and secondary sources. A primary source is an original document, creative work, or artifact from the period being researched or created by someone present. This could include speeches, letters, manuscripts, photographs, newspapers, news film footage, interviews, autobiographies, and memoirs. For example, primary sources from the 1920s would include newspaper articles and pictures.
Creative works from 1920s America provide insight into the period’s culture, values, and lifestyles. Popular novels like The Great Gatsby and All Quiet on the Western Front remain widely read today and can give readers a glimpse into the lives of Americans in the 1920s. Music was changing drastically, with black jazz musicians being recorded for the first time, their lyrics and style reflecting the vibrant energy of cities like New York and Chicago.
Advertisements from the 1920s also provide insight into the consumer culture of the time, as everything from cigarettes to skincare products was advertised. Artifacts from the 1920s are still accessible today, with collections available to view online or in person at the Henry Ford Museum. Physical items such as pottery, jewelry, weapons, tools, furniture, clothing, architecture, and machinery can still be seen and provide a tangible connection to the past.
What is a secondary source?
When writing a history essay, primary and secondary sources are essential for making historical arguments. Primary sources provide insight into the thoughts and actions of the people being written about, while secondary sources interpret primary sources by analyzing them and making their arguments. Examples of secondary sources include textbooks, biographies, documentaries, and magazine articles. Tertiary sources such as book reviews can also be used but are usually unnecessary. To make solid historical arguments, it is essential to use both primary and secondary sources. Asking for assistance from a history essay helper is always a good alternative to an hours-long digging for sources – obviously, it’s time spent better, right?
How to find primary sources
To locate primary sources, the internet is a great resource. However, due to the amount of documentation that needs to be digitized, it may be beneficial to visit a school or public library.
Libraries typically have microfilm of old newspapers, reference materials, and some videos available to watch or check out. Additionally, university libraries may work together, allowing one to order materials from one university to be loaned out to one they attend. Examples are the Harvard Library and the New York Public Library. Furthermore, libraries may also have archives, which can be especially useful if the history essay is about something that happened in the local area. Lastly, if visiting a library, a librarian can help with finding the necessary materials; however, if not, seeing what is needed may take more time.
Local and regional historical societies are a great place to find primary sources for your history essay. Their archives are often more extensive than those found in libraries and are predominantly focused on local history. You may also look to national websites such as the National Archives and the Library of Congress to access primary sources relating to a broader range of subjects, which can be done from the comfort of your home.
Museums are another great source of primary sources, both online and if you visit in person. Online museums may have images of art, documents, artifacts, and recordings, while staying in person may allow you to take photos or notes (if allowed). For example, the Brooklyn Museum has a whole exhibit on the Roaring ‘20s that can be helpful for a topic related to this era. If you are looking for more museum exhibits, try searching “museum exhibits about [topic]” on Google and ensure that the results are from actual museums.
Finding sources on the Internet
Researching on the internet is a great way to find legitimate primary sources. Look for websites ending in .edu, .org, and .gov to ensure that the information is credible. If you are looking for newspaper articles, check the archives section of prominent newspapers like the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune for digital copies of newspapers from the turn of the century. With primary sources, you can connect to history in a way that textbooks can’t and use them to prove or disprove an argument. If you are having trouble incorporating primary sources into your essay or are uncertain of the strength of your argument, seek help from HistoryHelp editors, who will help revise your paper into a masterpiece.
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