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History 118 - United States History, 1865 - Present - Stonis

With the recent controversies around Confederate monuments and historical memory, this project helps students think about public spaces, historical revision, and public art in an engaging way.

Primary Sources | What Are They?

Primary Sources Defined

Workers prepare for an expected 100,000 people for the dedication of the world's largest memorial to leaders of the Confederacy, May 1970.

Image Source: Smithsonian Magazine

What Are Primary Sources?
PRIMARY SOURCES are FIRST HAND ACCOUNTS and include works such as:


- journals

- letters

- photographs

- speeches

- memoirs

- autobiographies

- original artwork (or photographic representation of art work)

- artifacts

A PRIMARY SOURCE can be anything that is considered a DIRECT SOURCE; in other words, a source that was created by someone who was either a direct participant in, or an observer of, an event. 

Primary sources can also include RAW DATA. Census data or facts published in a newspaper account immediately after an event may be considered primary, depending on the account.


poetry or lyrics

- policy or legislation

- songs in audio format

- playbills

- promotional posters 

- fliers

- flags

- ticket stubs to an event

- postcards

- maps

- cartoons

- public opinion polls

- manuscripts

- quotations

- propaganda

- other creative production or artwork in various mediums such as ceramics, metal, etc.


Although many sources can be considered primary, it's important to consult with your instructor to confirm a source you're considering using in your group project is acceptable for this assignment. While some instructors may accept a wide variety of primary sources, others may specify the kind of primary source you're expected to use. It's your responsibility to understand the requirements of the assignment and to select and use the correct materials. If you have questions, ASK!

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