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Bruton High School Virginia History Day (Spring 2024)

What is a Primary Source?

A primary source is anything created during the period under study, and often the creator doesn't think of the material as a "primary source" when making it.   An episode of The Simpsons is a great primary source when studying 1990s popular culture, but the creators did not have future historians in mind when creating the episodes.  Examples of primary sources include:

  • Personal narratives
  • Correspondence
  • Biography
  • Interviews
  • Letters
  • Speeches
  • Pamphlets
  • Sermons
  • Diaries
  • Wills
  • Logbooks
  • Legal Documents
  • Book Reviews
  • Books
  • Films
  • Music
  • Oral Histories
  • Paintings

Everything from scraps of ancient Egyptian papyrus to modern comic books are used as primary sources -- you're only limited by your creativity and ability to convincingly argue a thesis. 

Second Battle of El Alamain

Topic: Second battle of El Alamein


  • 10/23/1942 to 11/4/1942
  • Western Frontier of Egypt

What types of primary sources would this generate?