History in Your Hands: Getting in Touch with Primary & Secondary Sources

Explore the engineering process through the application of forces and redesign of CAD files.

1. Objectives:

After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

a. explain the difference between primary and secondary sources.

b. classify sources as primary or secondary sources

c. cite sources using proper MLA formatting.

d. design vector images for laser scoring using introductory CAD / vector software.

2. Overview

In this lesson, students will be putting primary and secondary sources in context by creating art that reflects a historical event or period. They will select an object or shape that relates to their chosen subject matter, then superimpose real-world headlines, quotes, and news articles over the object, while also learning to cite their sources properly.

Have you ever wondered what the main difference between an autobiography and a biography is?

Well, it turns out it’s pretty simple: one is a primary source and the other is a secondary source. Chances are, you encounter examples of primary and secondary sources pretty frequently in your everyday life. So what are these sources and how can you tell which is which?

Primary sources are firsthand, eyewitness accounts that provide information directly from the original source. Let’s say you are researching the Cuyahoga River Fire of 1969. Some examples of primary sources relating to this event might include a diary entry written by someone who observed the fire, photographs of the fire, or a newspaper article written by a reporter who was present at the time of the fire. An autobiography can be classified as a primary source because the author is writing about their personal experiences, so the information has not been altered or reinterpreted.

Secondary sources are documents that analyze or interpret primary sources and are at least one step removed from the event in question. Going back to the Cuyahoga River Fire, some secondary sources you might encounter include a textbook about the environment, a documentary about the fire, or a newspaper article written by a reporter who did not personally witness the fire. A biography can be classified as a secondary source because the author is writing about the experiences of another person and is therefore providing a secondhand account.


Brooke Powell