A primary source is an artefact, diary, document, autobiography or any source of information that was created at the time that an event under study happened. As a researcher, you need to use primary sources to ensure credibility of the assignment. The following assignment is a primary source hunt from HIST 100 class. Read it to get a better understanding of how to approach such assignments.
Short Response: Primary Source Hunt
Describe your overall experience locating these primary sources. Was it challenging or straightforward? Do you learn anything interesting along the way?
Locating the primary sources was challenging considering that I had to use certain key words in their respective websites. In the initial stages of searching, I did not locate the primary sources right away. I had to modify the key words or add some words to locate the sources. For example, when locating the transcription of the oral history with Tom Evans, I used the key words, “Tom Evans” but did not get the source, then I changed the key word to “Tom Evans Interview” and I got the source.
I learned that locating primary sources requires the researcher to know the specific key words that should be used to locate a source. Unlike the secondary sources, which can be straightforward to find, primary sources require knowledge of the specific key words that should be used to do the research. This can be a difficult task for a person who does not understand the course of history well. Also, it is important to know how to navigate through the website to locate the primary source.
Were you able to locate an interview with Tom Evans, a close friend of President Truman’s, who interacted with scientists who were trying to reach Truman with their campaign against the use of the atomic bomb? Share your search terms and a link to the primary source.
Yes. I was able to locate an interview with Tom Evans. However, it was not straightforward as I thought before beginning the search. In my initial searches I used the key words “Tom Evans”, but did not get the transcription. I used to change my search to “Tom Evans Interview”, and got fourteen results on Tom Evans. I scrolled down and located the transcription source on the interview with Tom L. Evans.
My search items are “Tom Evans,” and “Tom Evans Interview.” The link to the primary source: is https://www.trumanlibrary.gov/library/oral-histories/evans4, retrieved from the Truman Library collections. Locating the transcription of the interview from the Truman Library Collection was challenging because it requires a researcher to navigate through the website using the search items. If the primary source could be located strategically, it would be easier for researchers to find it.
Were you able to locate a petition against the use of the atomic bomb circulated by Leo Szilard directed toward President Truman? Share your search terms and a link to the primary source.
Yes. I located a petition against the use of the atomic bomb circulated by Leo Szilard directed toward President Truman. The key words I used I the search to find the source are, “Szilard petition”. However, I did not get the source right away, I made more than three searches before I found the source. The initial key words that I used to search for the source from the Atomic Heritage Foundation website include, “Szilard atomic bomb,” and Szilard’s view on atomic bomb.”
The link to the source is https://www.atomicheritage.org/key-documents/szilard-petition. In the petition, Szilard argues that since Germany had surrendered, the atomic bomb should not be used on Japan. Szilard’s petition shows that scientists knew the effects of using the atomic bomb on Japan and were ready to protect human lives. The search for the source is challenging because it is not located on the home page of the Atomic Heritage Foundation website. The researcher must navigate through the website pages using specific key words to locate the source.
Were you able to locate an interview with Lilli Hornig, a scientist who signed Szilard’s petition against the use of the atomic bomb? Share your search terms and a link to the primary source.
Yes, I located the interview with Lilli Hornig from the Voices of the Manhattan Project. The link to the interview I found is https://www.manhattanprojectvoices.org/oral-histories/lilli-hornigs-interview. The key words that I used are, “Lilli Hornig interview.” Finding the primary source was not challenging. I found it straight away with the first search.
Locating the Lilli Hornig interview from the Voices of the Manhattan Project has provided insights into primary source search. I have learned that while some primary sources are challenging to locate, others are straight forward. For example, the Lilli Hornig interview was a video with oral transcription. This made it easy to find. Also, perhaps I may have located it easy because the website does not have many sources about Lilli Hornig.