Promoting Thinking and the Growth of Thinkers
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Module Five - - Going to Primary Sources
Primary sources often give us a basis in fact to verify or dismiss our suppositions. Letters and papers often relate incidents that show character. They may also give a glimpse of the person separate from the achievements for which they are famous or infamous.

If students rely upon the judgments of historians and commentators to determine someone's character, they are surrendering.

It is fine to read some secondary sources to temper and balance what is learned from the primary sources, but it is best to begin with the primary sources so the student feels invested in formulating her or his own picture of the person.

Go to Advanced Google and enter Matthew Flinders in the exact phrase box with the word papers in the top box. This is a good search strategy to find the papers of almost any historical figure, whether it be Napoleon, Flinders or Emily Dickinson.

The top hit should be the National Maritime Museum in the U.K. ( )

Browse for letters from Flinders to his wife, Letters from Matthew Flinders to Ann Flinders and use what you have learned to challenge, revise or substantiate your original suppositions.

Use the format below to collect pertinent sections of letters:

© Jamie McKenzie, 2007, all rights reserved. No copies can be made or distributed in any format without the express written permission of the author.

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