Test Your Understanding
A "bird's eye view" panoramic map of Grand Rapids in 1868; held at the Library of Congress.
"Bird's eye view" panoramic map of Grand Rapids
This painting was created to show Grand Rapids as it existed at the time, in 1868. That makes it a primary resource.
What if the artist had intentionally exaggerated some of the features -- like making a building larger and more impressive than it really was. Would that make this painting an interpretation rather than first-hand evidence?
The Civil War diary of George Harrington, a member of the Sixth Michigan Cavalry; held at Western Michigan University.
Civil War diary of George Harrington
This is a first-hand account of George Harrington's experiences as a soldier in the Sixth Michigan Cavalry -- clearly a primary source.
Photo of a Texaco gas station in Kalamazoo in 1958, from the John Todd Photographic Collection at Portage District Library.
Photo of a Texaco gas station in Kalamazoo in 1958
Photos provide visual first-hand evidence of a certain time and place, so they are primary resources.
The Duration of the Niagara Falls and the History of the Great Lakes (1895), from the website Canada's Local Histories Online.
The Duration of the Niagara Falls and the History of the Great Lakes (1895)
This book was written by a geologist to explain how Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes were formed, based his interpretation of the physical evidence. From that perspective, it is a secondary resource.
This book was written more than 100 years ago, and it is possible that scientists have gathered new evidence that changes their understanding of Great Lakes geology. If your research topic was "the history of geological theories about the formation of the Great Lakes," this book could then be considered a primary resource.