Exploring Primary and Secondary Sources
In this activity, students will learn the difference between primary and secondary sources as they compare and contrast Lunford Lane's description of his life as an enslaved person compared to a biography of Lane written after his death.
- Excerpt from The Narrative of Lunsford Lane (1842) by Lunsford Lane, Raleigh, N.C. (1843) by Moses Grandy, Camden County, N.C.
- Biography of Lunsford Lane
- copies of Primary and Secondary Sources worksheet (one per student)
- pens or pencils
1. Distribute a printout of the excerpt from The Narrative of Lunsford Lane and a copy of the Primary and Secondary Sources worksheet to each student. Have the students answer questions 1–5 on the worksheet.
2. Distribute one printout of the corresponding biography to each student. Have the students answer questions 6–9 on the worksheet.
3. Discuss the difference between primary and secondary documents and the importance of studying primary documents.
4. Encourage the students to do additional research—using primary and secondary sources—on enslaved and free people of color during the antebellum period. In a future class, have the students discuss their findings and explain how this additional information helped them understand the original primary documents they examined.