Test Your Understanding
Explore the online resources listed below. Some are primary sources, and some are secondary. Can you tell the difference?
Blueprints of the R.E. Olds Mansion in Lansing, Michigan (1903); held at the Archives of Michigan.
Blueprints of the R.E. Olds Mansion (1903)
Blueprints and architectural plans are a primary resource. They record how a building was originally conceived and constructed. These are especially valuable for historians if the building no longer exists or has been remodeled or renovated.
Sheet music for Hang Your Hat in Detroit (1910); held at the Archives of Michigan.
Sheet music for Hang Your Hat in Detroit (1910)
Song lyrics would almost always be considered a primary resource for research into culture and society. They often document popular images of people and places, romantic ideals, or offer political criticism.
"The Story Behind the Lacoste Crocodile Shirt," published in the Smithsonian Magazine's "Threaded" blog.
"The Story Behind the Lacoste Crocodile Shirt"
This article is a secondary resource. It does include primary resources (photographs, quotations from people's memoirs) but the article itself uses these primary resources to tell a story: the historian's interpretation of the available facts and evidence.