Primary Sources are defined by the American Library Association as “the evidence of history, original records or objects created by participants or observers at the time historical events occurred or even well after events, as in memoirs and oral histories.”
Questions to Ask of Primary Sources:
OBSERVE Identify and note details about the source: What do you notice first? Find something small but interesting. What do you notice that you didn’t expect? What do you notice that you can’t explain? What do you notice now that you didn’t earlier?
REFLECT Generate and test hypotheses about the source. Where do you think this came from? · Why do you think somebody made this? · What do you think was happening when this was made? · Who do you think was the audience for this item? · What tool was used to create this? · Why do you think this item is important? · If someone made this today, what would be different? · What can you learn from examining this?
QUESTION Ask questions that lead to more observations and reflections.What do you wonder about... who? · what? · when? · where? · why? · how?
-From The Library of Congress, Analyzing Primary Sources Tool