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EIU Teaching with Primary Sources

How to Select Primary Sources

primary source header 

Learning Page Lesson Framework. (n.d.) Retrieved October 1, 2007, from


What kinds of sources are of particular interest to my students?

Reading Level

How difficult is the reading level of the primary source compared to my students' abilities? What might help my students comprehend this material (a glossary of terms, for example)?


How long is the source? Do I need to excerpt a portion of the source given my students' abilities and/or time constraints? How do I ensure that the original meaning of the source is preserved in the excerpt?

Points of View

Are various points of view on a given topic, event, or issue fairly represented in the sources I have chosen to use? Have I achieved proper balance among the competing points of view?

Variety of Sources

Have I included a variety of types of sources (e.g., published, unpublished, text, visual, and artifacts)?


Where can I or my students find the sources we need (the school or public library, the local history society, over the Internet)?

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