Massachusetts Studies Project store of Primary Sources.
are Primary Sources?
of original resource materials include:
federal - census, military, and court records, legislation,
• state - census, state military, and vital
records, agency reports, petitions, legislation,
• county - probate, deeds, court records
• municipality - tax valuations, town meetings,
local census and militia records, voter lists
papers, diaries, family records, letters, etc.
newspapers, directories, handbills, genealogies, etc.
interviews, tapes, transcriptions
property such as artifacts, furniture, clothing, gravestones, and real estate;
landmarks and landforms.
Images: illustrations, maps,
drawings, portraits, engravings, photographs, etc.
Why Use Primary
Sources? The Library of Congress's
excellent website includes many primary sources
including important US documents and photographic
collections. They also include a learning page for
teachers which cites two reasons for
using primary sources:
Primary sources expose students to multiple perspectives on great issues of the
past and present. History, after all, deals with matters that were furiously
debated by the participants. Interpretations of the past are furiously debated
as well, among historians, policy makers, politicians, and ordinary citizens.
By working with primary sources, students can become involved in these debates.
Primary sources help students develop knowledge, skills, and analytical
abilities. By dealing directly with primary sources, students engage in asking
questions, thinking critically, making intelligent inferences, and developing
reasoned explanations and interpretations of events and issues in the past and
The National Archives is another major source of primary
materials, many related to Massachusetts. They have
an excellent Digital
Classroom which includes ideas and lessons for
with Documents, co-sponsored with the Mass.
Council for the Social Studies, is a monthly series
in the MCSS publication, Social Education and also appears on the Digital Classroom page.
MSP Resources Database includes over 180 Primary
Sources that can be searched under subject and other
fields. Check out the complete list in alphabetical