The Value of Using Primary Sources
  Engage your students with primary sources  
For years, historians and educators of all subjects have understood the value of using primary sources in K-12 education. Two key reasons for using primary sources in learning activities are listed below.

1. Primary sources expose students to multiple perspectives on great issues of the present and past. The human experience, after all, deals with matters that were furiously debated by the participants. Interpretations of the past also continue to be debated by historians, policy makers, politicians, and ordinary citizens.

2. Primary sources help students develop knowledge, skills, and analytical abilities. By dealing directly with primary sources, students engage in asking questions, thinking critically, making intelligent inferences, and developing reasoned explanations and interpretations of events and issues both in the present and the past.
  Using Bloom's Taxonomy to Assess Primary Sources
Areas Skills Assessment Questions
  1. Observe and recall information
  2. Acquire knowledge of dates, events, places
  3. Grasp major ideas
  4. Master subject matter
  1. When was this source created?
  2. Who created this source?
  3. What person(s), place(s), event(s), or issue(s) does this source represent?
  4. What is the condition of this source?
  1. Understand information
  2. Grasp meaning
  3. Translate knowledge into new contexts
  4. Order, group, infer causes
  5. Predict consequences
  1. Why might this type of source have been created?
  2. What technology was used to create this source and what significance, if any, might that technology have on the information presented?
  3. What does this source document or demonstrate and what might have been left out?
  4. How is this source similar to and different from other sources that represent the same person(s), place(s), event(s), or issue(s)?
  1. Use information
  2. Use methods, concepts, theories in new situations
  3. Solve problems using required skills or knowledge
  1. What new perspectives have you gained about the person(s), place(s), event(s), or issue(s) that this source represents?
  2. How might you choose to document or relay information about the person(s), place(s), event(s), or issue(s) that this source represents?
  1. Find patterns
  2. Organize parts
  3. Recognize hidden meanings
  4. Identify components
  1. For what reason(s) might this source have been created?
  2. What bias might the creator of this source have had?
  3. How does this source relate to other sources that represent the same person(s), place(s), event(s), or issue(s)?
  1. Compare and discriminate between ideas
  2. Make choices based on reasoned arguments
  3. Verify value of evidence
  4. Recognize subjectivity
  1. How might the bias of the source creator have affected the creation of this source?
  2. Why do you think this source is important or not important?
  3. Would a modern-day person be likely to create a similar type of source for a similar reason? Why or not?
  1. Use old ideas to create new ones
  2. Generalize from given facts
  3. Relate knowledge from several areas
  4. Predict, draw conclusions
  1. What possible problems might the creator of this source have encountered while creating or presenting this source to others?
  2. What conclusions can you draw about the person(s), place(s), event(s), or issue(s) that this source represents?
TPS Programs
TPS-Barat provides no-cost teacher professional development to help K-12 educators provide high-quality classroom instruction using the millions of digitized primary sources available from
The mission of the national Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program is to: build of the Library’s educational initiatives; provide content that promotes the effective educational of the Library’s resources; and offer access to and promote sustained use of the Library’s educational resources. Learn more about the Library’s TPS program and other resources available to teachers at
Content created and featured in partnership with the TPS program does not indicate an endorsement by the Library of Congress.
Learn more about Teaching with Primary Sources by visiting