Thursday, April 21, 2011

Using Primary Sources

I’m working on an education module which uses eighteenth century land patents. The module will be part of a new web site “Engaging the Piedmont: Transitions in Virginia Slavery 1730-1790” (more soon!) Archaeologists, as well as historians, use primary documents such as probate inventories and patents to gain a greater understanding of the sites on which they work.

Not only are many of these documents not available on the web, they are written in eighteenth century script. Fortunately technology can at least help students start to work with primary sources. The module below is part of a larger piece we did for the Virginia Department of Historic Resource “What Do Archaeologists Do?”

I’ve had a few people ask if they can just buy the translate box but, unfortunately, there’s a little smoke and mirrors there! It based on an idea I saw years ago “Martha Ballard’s Diary” a great site exploring primary sources. Interactive content can help students get started in looking at difficult material, but it can’t replace research quite yet.

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