Primary and Secondary Sources

Contributor: Danielle Childers. Lesson ID: 10481

Have you ever been present at a historical event? Then you're a primary source! Using videos, an online game, and news about a hurricane, make a foldable that displays primary and secondary sources!


United States

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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This is a list of passengers that drowned in the sinking of the Titanic.

  • By looking at this picture (below), what class were these passengers?
  • Many of them do not have an occupation listed; why do you think this is?

Titantic passenger list

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

By looking at items like this list, we can learn more about the sinking of the Titanic and its passengers.

Historians, the people who study history, use what they call primary resources and secondary resources to learn about and piece together the past, like you did in the introduction. Many people are used to learning about history through a text book, but there are many other ways to learn about history, like looking at primary and secondary sources.

A text book would be an example of a secondary source. Secondary sources tell us about a certain historical event or time in history by sharing information gathered from primary sources. Secondary sources are made after the event took place, and usually show a bigger picture of the event.

Primary sources are sources of information from people present at the event or time in history. A journal entry of a person at the event would be an example of a primary source.

Examples of Primary Sources

  • text—letters, diaries, original documents, legal agreements, treaties, maps, laws, advertisements, recipes, genealogical information, lectures
  • audio—oral histories or memoirs, interviews, music
  • images—photographs, videos, film, fine art
  • objects—clothing (fashion or uniforms), tools, pottery, gravestones, inventions, weapons, memorabilia

Examples of Secondary Sources

  • textbooks
  • encyclopedias
  • biographies
  • reference books
  • journal articles

Learn more about these two sources while you watch Primary vs Secondary Sources from HistoryVideos100:

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  • What was one primary source example discussed in the video?
  • What was one secondary source example?

When you are ready, keep going in the Got It? section.

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