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Primary Resources

You can now readily see after using all of your primary resources to uncover the mystery of “Little’s White Oil Bottle” in the Archaeology section, that knowing what primary resources are and how to use them is very important in your role as an historian.

What exactly is a primary resource? Well, as the name suggests, a primary resource is the first resource. First, meaning, it is the most direct source of information to the given subject; it came earliest in time compared to the event in question. Some examples of primary resources are diary entries, old letters and newspaper articles, deeds for houses and buildings, old coins and money, artifacts from the ground….the list just keeps going! Some secondary resources are probably the resources you are more familiar with such as encyclopedias, magazines, and the internet. Secondary resources combine all the information from several types of primary resources and record them in an organized way.

If there are things like secondary resources, what do you need primary resources for? Well, by using primary resources you make your own analysis and interpretation of them, instead of just taking someone else’s word for it. Also, there may come a time in your life as an historian where you want to research something that no one else ever has, and therefore you would not be able to find that information in an encyclopedia or other reference book—just like the mystery of Little’s White Oil bottle.

Let’s take a look at a few examples and then turn you loose to do some of your own interpretations! Just like when the archaeologist and research historian had to go to the county office to look up important primary documents, you are going to uncover some things that no one else may have figured out by looking at these images of original documents.

Try your imagination and writing skills at some story starters from the old Scottsville Ordinance book. Click the star below:

How much new information can you come up with by analyzing these primary resources? Click the star below:

How do we know?   Oral History   Archaeology   Archives/Accessions   Teacher/Parent





Check out some OLD ordinances Check out some Primary Resources