Analyzing Primary Sources: Tools & Guides


Primary sources, as described by the Library of Congress, “are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects that were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts that retell, analyze, or interpret events, usually at a distance of time or place. Bringing young people into close contact with these unique, often profoundly personal documents and objects can give them a sense of what it was like to be alive during a long-past era. Helping students analyze primary sources can also prompt curiosity and improve critical thinking and analysis skills.”

Below we have gathered a number of short articles, blog posts and videos with advice and strategies, as well as tools and guides, for analyzing primary sources from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program; resources come from the Library unless noted otherwise.

Analyzing Primary Sources

Primary Source Analysis Tools 

Using the Primary Source Analysis Tool

Primary Source Analysis Guides

Analyzing Books & Other Texts

Analyzing Historical Newspapers

Analyzing Images

Analyzing Maps

Analyzing Motion Pictures/Video

Analyzing Music & Sound

Analyzing Oral Histories

Analyzing Political Cartoons

Facilitating Primary Source Research