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Patriot Burials™ Marker Grant Program

A stack of books with a magnifying glass

Why Primary Sources?

  • Primary sources are evidence from the past. They are as close as possible to the actual events and give a more accurate picture. Primary sources are often the most direct, the most certain and the least filtered sources of data.
  • Every time someone retells a story, details get dropped and there are changes of tone and emphasis; sometimes errors get introduced. Also, secondary sources may introduce creator bias based on the purpose and point of view of the creator.
  • We have made a commitment to grant applicants and the public at large that if a historic marker is funded by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, then they can be absolutely assured that the facts presented are indisputable today and into the future. That’s a promise we can only keep by having primary source documentation on file to support the text on the marker.

What Are Primary Sources?

Primary source documentation is any documentation that occurred at the time of the event, and in which the information documented was based on first person knowledge. 

Examples of Primary Sources

  • Pension records, muster rosters, land bounty records, other military records – copy of original document; with some exceptions, transcriptions alone are not accepted.
  • Minutes, correspondence, other local or state government records – copy of original document created at the time event(s) occurred; include title, date and location of source.
  • Headstones, grave markers – photo of headstone or marker noting Revolutionary War service; headstone or marker must be original to time of burial – replacements or monuments installed later will not be accepted.
  • Federal, State and local government census records – must include copy of original document for federal and state censuses, include column information at top of page; for local government census records, include title, date and location of source.
  • Newspaper articles and obituaries – created at the time event(s) occurred; masthead with name and date of newspaper must be included.
  • Journals, diaries and church records (bound volumes) – copy of page(s) containing relevant information; include title page, cover or spine with author/owner’s name and date, if not appearing on page with information.
  • Letters, other correspondence –  copy of entire letter or correspondence; must be written by individual with firsthand knowledge of Patriot’s service.
  • Deeds, wills, probate files, court records – copy of original document; include title, date and location of source.
  • Atlases, gazetteers, and other publications – copy of page(s) relevant to marker text, including title page, publisher and publication date of source; please note that local history publications, such as county histories, are rarely accepted as primary sources documentation.
  • Maps – include date and source of map (website, if applicable); use multiple images, if needed.

Applications for membership for both the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and the SAR (Sons of the American Revolution) are not accepted as primary sources. However, these may be useful in leading you to primary sources.

Want to print out this information? Download Examples of Primary Sources PDF

NOTE: Images provided with applications may be scans, photocopies or photographs; email attachments are accepted. Please underline, highlight

What’s the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Sources?

Primary sources provide firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning the subject being researched. They are usually created at the time the events occurred. Examples include diaries, photographs, census records, deeds, legal filings, and newspaper reports published at the time of the event. Here’s a helpful link for determining if a source is primary: 

Secondary sources analyze, report, summarize or interpret data. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Examples include reference books (such as encyclopedias and local history publications), textbooks, magazine articles, and newspaper articles analyzing past events. National Register of Historic Places nominations are considered secondary sources as the historical information they contain is not routinely verified by the historic preservation office. 

Additional Resources:

Primary Sourcing Tips   Want to print out this information? Download Our Accepted Primary Sources PDF