Primary Source Worksheets

All sources provide a window to past events and people’s lives. How clear these windows are and how wide a view they give, depends upon the types of sources historians use to investigate the past. These worksheets will allow you and your students to investigate a variety of primary sources.

This instructional set includes worksheets to teach students how to:

  • distinguish between primary and secondary sources
  • interpret different types of sources (e.g. broadside/ads, documents, maps, pictures, objects, and oral histories);
  • take an idea and turn it into a research project.

The worksheets guide students in a thorough examination of all facets of the sources so that they are prepared to make strong conclusions supported by the source. All of the worksheets are reproducible. In addition to serving as "tools for decoding" primary sources in the MdHS Primary Source Kits, the worksheets are designed to work well with a variety of primary sources, including materials teachers might borrow form another cultural institution or bring from home.

Primary vs. Secondary Sources: A Comparison

How to interpret an ad or broadside

How to interpret a document

How to interpret a map

How to interpret a newspaper article

How to interpret an object

How to interpret an oral history

How to interpret a picture

Ideas to projects