Teaching / Primary Documents /

Primary Documents

The use of primary documents in the form of letters, photographs, newspaper articles, and oral histories not only helps history come alive for students, it also allows students to play the role of historian. The process of selecting, evaluating, and interpreting evidence to develop and test an historical hypothesis is central to the historian's craft and helps students develop critical thinking skills. Oral histories provide unique perspectives and vivid stories, but the unreliability of memory and subjectivity means that as source material, oral histories, like all evidence, need to be analyzed and interpreted by the historian. The historian uses additional primary documents for evaluating, reinforcing and contrasting the oral testimony. For that purpose we have provided in this section some text and image documents to supplement the Brooklyn College student oral histories on Farm Labor work and the college censorship of The Vanguard newspaper.