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 Primary Sources 
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We briefly brought up the topic of Primary sources in class today. Personally, I was never introduced to primary sources until this past semester when I took a history class. I think that primary sources are great because you get to see different views of the same events, as opposed to just hearing the end results from the "winning" point of view. I was curious to know how many of you were exposed to primary sources before college, and if not before, have you been exposed to them in college?

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Elizabeth McPhail Dawson


Thu Apr 19, 2007 2:48 pm
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In my general education in high school I was hardly ever exposed to primary sources. My exposure was primarily in my Civics class, with documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. It was not until I had an established desire to study history and took Advanced Placement history courses, that I actually began to read them. As a history major, they are an everyday part of my life.


Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:02 pm
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I don't really remember seeing primary sources in high school. I saw them in history textbooks but they were just segments of the declaration of independence or other documents, not the whole document. It wasn't until I got to college that I saw real primary sources. I feel that every student should have the chance in high school to see and use primary sources.


Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:50 pm
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The trick with primary sources is that it often takes a tremendous amount of them to paint a reasonably accurate picture of an event or series of events in history. Obviously opinions, interpretations, and recollections of events vary drastically from person to person even among eye-witnesses. For this reason, primary sources are sometimes only truly useful if they come in massive numbers. One letter from a Civil War soldier will tell you very little about the Civil War. Ten or Twenty letters won’t tell you much more. But hundreds of Civil War letters taken into consideration in addition to a descent preexisting general knowledge of the war may tell you something. Will it tell everyone the same thing? Almost never.
A handful of primary sources may be very interesting, but in a search for understanding they won’t help very much.

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Matthew Pickard


Fri Apr 20, 2007 4:14 pm
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I dealt with primary sources in my AP US History class in high school. I have dealt with them a handful of times since then here at ASU, but I think that they should be used in more than history classes. They are more interesting than a textbook interpretation if they are used properly.

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Lesley Paige de Paoli


Fri Apr 20, 2007 4:37 pm
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