primary sources

Evaluating Primary Source Web Sites: Examples

  • Is there a clear purpose or reason for this site?
    • About Link
      To find an "about" link or information about the author/organization you may need to find the homepage for the entire site. This may require backtracking a url -- deleting the end of the URL section by section until you find a main page for the site.

    Examples of Explicit Purposes:

    • THOMAS: Legislative Information on the Internet - About Thomas states "Acting under the directive of the leadership of the 104th Congress to make Federal legislative information freely available to the Internet public, a Library of Congress team brought the THOMAS World Wide Web system online in January 1995, at the inception of the 104th Congress."
    • DoHistory - "About this Site" states "DoHistory invites you to explore the process of piecing together the lives of ordinary people in the past. It is an experimental, interactive case study based on the research that went into the book and film A Midwife's Tale, which were both based upon the remarkable 200 year old diary of midwife/healer Martha Ballard. Although DoHistory is centered on the life of Martha Ballard, you can learn basic skills and techniques for interpreting fragments that survive from any period in history. We hope that many people will be inspired by Martha Ballard's story to do original research on other "ordinary" people from the past."
    • NORML - the "About NORML" states "Since its founding in 1970, NORML has provided a voice in the public policy debate for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition and favor an end to the practice of arresting marijuana smokers." This site provides excerpts of opinion polls dealing with marijuana use. You should ask yourself if any information might have been omitted to support NORML’s agenda. What other polls might have been cited? Which questions in these surveys aren’t presented?

Image: James Omura editorial, "Freedom of the Press" published in the Rocky Shimpo, 29 March 1944. Courtesy of Conscience and the Constitution.