When doing research for your National History Day project you will encounter many primary sources. These sources are essential to your project. They give you first hand accounts about your topic. Considering there are varied amounts of primary sources you can use each one in a way that will give your project the “wow” factor.
Here are some examples of primary sources and how you can use them to their greatest advantages. Personal records such as letters, diaries, photo albums, and scrapbooks could help you learn about values, attitudes, first-hand accounts of historical events, uses of technology, and more. These resources are probably located at local historical societies. Records from organizations and businesses such as inventories, cemetery records, travel brochures, school records, yearbooks, and union records are all great primary sources. They all show different types of history such as economic and educational. Public organizations such as schools, business, and historical societies would be where you can find these sources.
Paintings, drawings, blueprints, photographs, and other visual records are great primary sources especially if you are doing a documentary or an exhibit. It allows you to get a realistic view into the time period in which you are studying. Art museums and historical societies would a great place to look for these sources. Newspaper and magazines can help you gain information about an event or historical era from writers who may have witnessed the event. Many libraries and historical societies contain copies of old newspapers.
Interviews are a great primary source. They give first-hand accounts of important people or events. You can conduct your own interviews or some maybe pre-recorded and found at your local historical societies.
Now to my personal favorite primary sources, (I know how cool am I that I have a favorite primary source) pop culture sources. These sources consist of music, advertisements, old TV shows, magazines, and books. These sources show the values of a certain time period. These sources can also be found in historical societies and libraries.
Government records such as trade agreements, treaties, census data, and court proceedings allow you to see how the government dealt with various issues. Local government information is found in local historical societies, while government records are found at the National Archives. Maps, genealogies, doctoral dissertations, or other academic sources can be full with useful data. Libraries and historical societies would be the best place to find these sources. Now go out and go find yourself some amazing primary sources!
-Ali, Delaware Historical Society Intern