70 World History Primary and Secondary Source Activities

The benefits of using primary sources in the classroom have long been known to social studies teachers and education leaders. Whereas bias can misinformation can sometimes be found in textbooks or online sources, primary source activities allow students to directly analyze and interpret history. 

Primary Sources expose students to different perspectives in World History and allow them to draw conclusions about important historical events. 

Secondary sources are valuable as well. These can be used to introduce students to a topic, provide context to historical events, and ensure that students understand the major people, places, and events of a topic. 

An important aspect of teaching social studies is blending good primary and secondary sources into all of your units while making sure that students understand the differences (and benefits) of both. 

A difficult part of that for many teachers is finding good primary and secondary sources that students can understand. Often primary sources are at a higher reading-level that students might struggle with. Secondary sources as well could be overly long, too short, or biased in a way that make them inappropriate for the classroom. 

During the course of my 15+ years teaching,  I dedicated myself to curating and editing engaging primary source resources for World History. I've spent hours researching to discover resources for each unit that can be understood by students.

I've also written and edited secondary source "informational text" articles for World History. These are almost always 1-page and include analysis and comprehension questions to ensure students understand the article. 

At the beginning of the year, we will practice understanding the differences between primary and secondary sources along with covering other historical thinking skills

Then, in each unit in World History my classes will analyze both primary and secondary sources. I've linked 70 of them below if you'd like to check them out or use them in your classes. They're organized by eras and broken up by primary and secondary sources: 

Ancient History Primary Sources

Ancient History Secondary Sources

Middle Ages to the Modern World Primary Sources

Middle Ages to the Modern Secondary Sources

Imperialism, World War 1, & the Interwar Era Primary Sources

Imperialism to the Interwar Era Secondary Sources

World War 2 and the Cold War Primary Sources

World War 2 and the Cold War Secondary Sources

I hope you find some of those resources helpful for you in your teaching! 

If you think you could use many of them, you can also sign up to join Students of History and you'll gain immediate access to ALL 65+ primary and secondary sources with your World History subscription

Joining also gives you access to lesson plans for every day, PBL, interactive notebook activities you can pair with these documents, digital notebooks, flipped classroom videos, and much more! 

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