Presentation Title

Primary and Secondary Sources in History: Challenges for Librarians.

Location

Room 210

Type of Presentation

Individual paper/presentation (20 minute presentation)

Target Audience

Higher Education

Abstract

New approaches to college-level history education are relying more on primary sources. History professors often ask students to obtain and study primary sources as part of their research assignment. Frequently, what constitutes a primary source may not be fully explained and this duty falls upon the librarian. A helpful and attentive librarian needs to convey to students not only where to locate and how to evaluate sources, but often librarians are called upon to distinguish between a primary or secondary source.

Librarians may be content to give the short explanation, a primary source is evidence written, created or otherwise produced during the time under study. The actual definition can be much more nuanced. It is impossible to assign a label to a source without knowing how it is used as evidence. The nature of a source does not derive the kind of object it is, but from the purpose it serves in a historical investigation.

This presentation will examine and challenge long-held perceptions of what constitutes a primary source and how the definition diverges with several examples from ancient, medieval and modern sources. Interaction and collaboration between faculty, students and librarians is vital to improve the understanding and subsequent diffusion of scholarly primary sources.

In order to build research skills in undergraduate and upper division courses a solid understand of what constitutes a primary source is crucial. Librarians can respond to these teaching innovations and provide leadership in their institutions by building their capacity to provide outreach and reference for primary sources.

Presentation Description

Historiography explores the issues and events of human endeavor through a narrative of eyewitness accounts, memoirs and wide ranges of interpretations Serious students of history must immerse themselves in all the sources to reach objective outcomes. What constitutes a primary source may not be full explained and this duty often falls upon the librarian. The challenge concerning any source is how they can be classified into any categories at all absent of broader historical inquiry.

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Sep 26th, 9:45 AM Sep 26th, 11:00 AM

Primary and Secondary Sources in History: Challenges for Librarians.

Room 210

New approaches to college-level history education are relying more on primary sources. History professors often ask students to obtain and study primary sources as part of their research assignment. Frequently, what constitutes a primary source may not be fully explained and this duty falls upon the librarian. A helpful and attentive librarian needs to convey to students not only where to locate and how to evaluate sources, but often librarians are called upon to distinguish between a primary or secondary source.

Librarians may be content to give the short explanation, a primary source is evidence written, created or otherwise produced during the time under study. The actual definition can be much more nuanced. It is impossible to assign a label to a source without knowing how it is used as evidence. The nature of a source does not derive the kind of object it is, but from the purpose it serves in a historical investigation.

This presentation will examine and challenge long-held perceptions of what constitutes a primary source and how the definition diverges with several examples from ancient, medieval and modern sources. Interaction and collaboration between faculty, students and librarians is vital to improve the understanding and subsequent diffusion of scholarly primary sources.

In order to build research skills in undergraduate and upper division courses a solid understand of what constitutes a primary source is crucial. Librarians can respond to these teaching innovations and provide leadership in their institutions by building their capacity to provide outreach and reference for primary sources.