#MakeItBetterMonday – Create a primary source

Let future historians learn from you!

How do historians learn what really happened in the past? There are many ways to learn this information, but the most valuable way is through the study of primary sources. A primary source is an original piece of information created at the time under study such as a diary, letter, newspaper article including eye witness accounts, or public record, artwork, photograph or literature. Even archaeological artifacts are primary sources!

Secondary sources can also be helpful. They often include primary source information with additional comments or analysis. An example of a secondary source would be a magazine or newspaper article written to honor an anniversary of an event.

When doing historic research it is important to include primary sources so that you have examined direct links to the past. We are living through an historic time right now! How will future historians learn what life in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic was like? There will be the newspaper articles (in print and online) and recordings of the news broadcasts and hospital records, but how will they know what day-to-day life during the “stay at home” order was like? You can tell them!

Journals are personal accounts of history. Do you keep one? Do you post on any social media? Then you are creating a primary source for future historians!

Print out this journal cover and put 4 or 5 additional pieces of blank paper on top, then fold in half to make a booklet. Put 2 or 3 staples very close to the fold to hold it all together.

Try keeping a daily record of your activities, thoughts and feelings for a whole week! Be sure to put the date at the top of each entry. Write down not only the basic information about what you did but also how you were feeling. What made you laugh today? Did you see something that made you sad when you saw a news segment on TV? Did your family eat a special meal together? How have your activities changed since before self-quarantine? Did you use Facetime or Zoom to keep in touch with friends or family members you are not able to see in person? Did you celebrate any special occasions like a birthday or graduation? How did you celebrate in a creative or unusual way? See if you can get other family members to keep a journal for the week, too. At the end of the week compare your entries — do you each have a unique perspective on the same activities?

Learn more!

Read an article with journal entries and photographs from the 1918 influenza epidemic https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-we-can-learn-1918-influenza-diaries-180974614

Explore primary sources – what do YOU want to learn about?     https://www.edutopia.org/blog/online-resources-primary-source-documents-monica-burns

Make history! Submit your story:   https://medium.com/history-made-by-us/you-are-the-primary-source-211c33053bcf