How to use Primary Sources

At first look, a primary source from the past can seem nearly impossible to understand. But with guidance and practice, you can learn a lot about history from primary sources—in fact, they’re the main tools of the historian! Try your hand at these primary sources. We’ll guide you through the process and then let you compare your thoughts with those of a historian.

Choose a topic:

  • The Dressmaker
    Explore women’s history through a photograph. What can you learn about women’s work in the past?
  • Gaslight Advertisement
    Analyze this ad to explore changes in lighting and understand what people of the past thought would make their lives more comfortable.

These online interactives are based on our curricular activities. You can also view and download the complete printable lesson plans.

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