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Junior Historian: Is It a Primary Source or a Secondary Source?

Issue #1

Old poscard of Hospital Soldiers Home, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Back of a postcard
Audio file

When people learn about history, they get their facts from different sources.

This postcard from 1917 is a primary source (pry-mary sors). Why? Because you can read Uncle Bob’s very own words written in 1917!

The card says, “My Dear Little Mary. Five eggs today. Come up and help eat them. Uncle Bob. Feb. 4, 1917.” It was sent to “Miss Mary Jane Holt, 774 E. 22nd St., Paterson, New Jersey.”

When you look at a primary source, you learn a lot from it. You can learn much about Uncle Bob and Mary if you study this postcard. 

If you were to write a story today about Uncle Bob and Mary, it would be a secondary source (se-kon-dairy sors). Why? Because your story would be written long after Uncle Bob wrote his postcard. Your facts would be from what you learned from the postcard, but your story would be from your point of view.

What can you learn about Uncle Bob and Mary from this card?