Primary sources in fifth grade



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The work which follows arose from the examination of three fifth grade social studies textbooks widely adopted and accepted in the State of Texas. Within these history textbooks, seven historical events which occurred during the American Revolution were investigated to determine how primary sources are represented in each selected textbook to support a version of the historical event they accompany. The research question guiding this qualitative study was: How do fifth grade social studies textbooks present primary sources in an American Revolution unit of study. To answer this question, I analyzed the three fifth grade social studies textbooks’ American Revolution unit of study. Historical events common to the textbooks and included in the unit of study were Tax Laws, The Boston Massacre, The Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Ride, Lexington and Concord, The Battle of Bunker Hill, and The Declaration of Independence. Within the textbooks’ American Revolution units of study, the following primary sources were found: quotes, written documents, photographs, cartoons, posters, maps, artifacts, paintings, and sculpture or statuary.
The researcher discovered three findings related to the representation of primary

sources in the fifth grade social studies textbooks. These include the conundrum of fact,

monolithic representation, and verisimilitude. Suggestions for improving school history

textbooks and opportunities for future research are included.