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Human Rights Archive - Teaching with Primary Sources

Subject Guide

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Patrick Stawski
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Duke University, Box 90185
Durham, NC 27708
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Call me:919-660-5823

Additional Resources

The Rubenstein Library offers several introductory videos to our digital collections. They cover useful information on refining search results, navigating digitized items, proper citations and copyright.

You can also find more teaching modules on the Rubenstein Instruction page.


This guide provides teaching and learning modules that incorporate collections from the Rubenstein Library's Human Rights Archive.  The modules are easy to use tools for instructors who want to teach students how to understand and analyze primary sources.  All the exercises and resources are available on-line and at no cost.

Each subsection of the guide focuses on a collecting topic of the Human Rights Archive. They include digital and digitized primary sources, brief descriptions of the documents, learning outcomes for each exercise, and a document analysis worksheet with guiding questions and discussion points.

What is a Primary Source?

As defined by the American Library Association, "Primary sources are the evidence of history, original records or objects created by participants or observers at the time historical events occurred or even well after events, as in memoirs and oral histories...These sources serve as the raw materials historians use to interpret and analyze the past." Primary sources may include letters, memos, postcards, posters, interviews, videos, cassette tapes, e-mail, spreadsheets, websites, and even social media accounts.

Marshall T. Meyer papers