Presentation on theme: "The National Archives and Records Administration Pacific Alaska Region Seattle, Washington & Anchorage, Alaska 9/1/2009 What are primary source documents."— Presentation transcript:
The National Archives and Records Administration Pacific Alaska Region Seattle, Washington & Anchorage, Alaska 9/1/2009 What are primary source documents and what do I need to know about them? Archival Research Basics with the National Archives Lesson # 3
What is a Primary Source document?
Do you own one or more yourself?
What is a Primary Source document? Do you own one or more yourself? –Where is it? –What does it look like? –Is it valuable? –How long will you keep it?
What about your birth certificate?
Maybe you are a new US Citizen
Definition of “Primary Source: from the Teaching Library at the University of California at Berkeley –Diaries, journals, speeches, interviews, letters, memos, manuscripts and other papers in which individuals describe events in which they were participants or observers; –Memoirs and autobiographies; –Records of organizations and agencies of government; –Published materials written at the time of the event; –Photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures, video recordings documenting what happened; –Artifacts of all kinds; and –Research reports in the sciences and social sciences. “Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to the truth of what actually happened during an historical event or time period. Primary sources are the evidence left behind by participants or observers. Examples of primary sources include:
What is an Archives?
A safe place to keep primary source documents
What is an Archives? A safe place to keep primary source documents A place where documents can be cared for and preserved
What is an Archives? A safe place to keep primary source documents A place where documents can be cared for and preserved A place where you can obtain copies of these documents
Are primary sources stored in places other than government archives? Where? Homes Private Collections Library Special Collections Newspaper morgues Film libraries Online (usually in image libraries) Reproduced in books
Is the information in primary sources always correct and/or accurate? Primary sources are subject to the same problems as all human endeavors Human Error Bias Prejudice Misinterpretation of facts Outright Lying
So how would you decide about the accuracy or meaning of any primary source?
Analysis First, let’s get some document analysis sheets to help us focus and look for clues.
Make a note of the web address
Now … click here for a copy of the photo analysis worksheet for this exercise. Please print it out, then continue …
The following five photographs are for you to analyze using the photo analysis worksheet you just printed out.
Richard M. Nixon meeting with Elvis Presley, 12/21/1970
In answer to the last question asked on the worksheet, here is a little more information that has been compiled by The National Archives for you. met-elvis/index.html
Now … do you understand the photograph better? Why? Why not? Where else might you find more information on this topic?
Let’s try some other examples Go back to the document analysis worksheet page at Find an appropriate worksheet for each example Find an appropriate worksheet for each example Fill one out for each of the following examples Fill one out for each of the following examples
Hunting Seagulls Records of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Alaska Region, Anchorage ARC # (www.archives.gov)www.archives.gov Photographs
Pribilof Islands (Alaska) Evacuation Camp Map, August 12, 1942 The National Archives and Records Administration, Anchorage, AK Maps & Drawings Records of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Record Group 22)
Written Documents Official Logbook, St George Island, June 16-29, 1942 Records of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Alaska Region, Anchorage, AK ARC # (www.archives.gov)www.archives.gov
Cartoons Untitled. [Reorganization of Congress], 07/28/1946 ARC Identifier Item from Record Group 46: Records of the U.S. Senate, Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration (Washington DC)
Assignment #3 Write no more than one page describing your findings in the four document analyses you just completed and noting any indications of bias or prejudice you found in each of the records. Please send a copy of the page to for review and suggestions. If you are taking this course for credit, this is a REQUIRED and GRADED assignment.
Questions? Contact: The National Archives and Records Administration Pacific Alaska Region The National Archives at SeattleThe National Archives at Anchorage 6125 Sand Point Way NE654 West Third Ave. Seattle, WA 98115Anchorage, AK