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Use of Primary Source Material

Primary Source Documents are those materials that were created by an individual or individuals. The documents can be in the form of letters, diaries or journals, books, notes, receipts, record books, recipes, photographs of the individual(s), drawings, verbatim interviews, income tax forms, etc. In modern times, these can include audiotapes and videotapes.

The following worksheet assists students in documenting and analyzing primary source materials.

Primary Source Documents

What kind of document are you examining?

  • Letter
  • Diary/Journal
  • Book
  • Receipt
  • Record Book
  • Drawing
  • Census Report
  • Newspaper article
  • Audiotape
  • Speech
  • Videotape
  • Note/Memo


Who created this document?


What is his or her relationship to the person or topic you are researching?


What dates appear on the document?


Why do you think this document was created?


What evidence in the document tells you why it was created?


List three things this document tells you about the person who created it.

  1. __________________________________________________
  2. __________________________________________________
  3. __________________________________________________


What questions does this document answer for you?


Does this document give you important information that you can use?

Use of Primary Source Material