Introduction to Poe Using Primary Resources

Contributor: Lisa Lo Piccolo. Lesson ID: 11061

Would you like to meet Edgar Allen Poe to find out why he was so creepy? You can't do that, but you can study his life and times through newspapers and other sources, called primary source documents!


Literary Studies

learning style
personality style
Golden Retriever
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Watch — if you dare! — and see if the works of 19th-century poet and master of the macabre, Edgar Allen Poe, still frighten the faint of heart today!

Trailer - The Raven (2012) Movie Trailer HD:

Studying the life and time in which an author wrote will help you understand his or her works and allow you to make connections that will deepen and enrich your learning.

In this lesson, you will learn about the life of Edgar Allan Poe, how his life experiences influenced his writing, and how his writing continues to inspire.

Let's start with a quick video that gives you some basic background on Poe and his troubled life. As you watch Edgar Allan Poe – Mini Biography from The Biography Channel, ask yourself the following:

  1. Why might Poe have thought of himself as cursed?
  2. Do you think Poe would have been such a well-known writer today if he had lived a happier life?
  3. Why do we still study, read about, and generally appreciate, certain people long after they are gone?

In order to look further into Poe's influence, you are going to use primary source materials.

Primary source materials are defined by the U.S. Library of Congress as the raw materials of history — original documents and objects that were created at the time under study.

They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience.

Examining primary source documents is almost like having a time machine — it will give you a real sense of the time period in which a particular author lived and worked, or, in this lesson, how an author has been remembered over time.

Analyzing primary source materials will provide you with a deeper connection to, and understanding of, the literature. So, in order to prepare ourselves to read the works of Poe, let's jump into our time machine and see what we can find in the Got It? section!

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