(This is the glossary for Carol Buswell’s curriculum unit, Exploring Your Community.)


A government department that is responsible for a particular activity, area, etc., or a business that provides a particular service.


A careful study of something to learn about its parts, what they do, and how they are related to each other.


A scientist who studies material remains (as fossil relics, artifacts, and monuments) of past human life and activities or evidence of the culture or activities of a people from the past.


A place in which public records or historical materials, such as documents, are kept.


A simple object (such as a tool or weapon) that was made by people in the past.


A list of the books, magazines, articles, etc., which are mentioned or were consulted in the creation of a text.

Buffalo Robe

The hide of an American buffalo dressed with the hair on, used as a robe, rug, or article of bedding. Commonly used by American Indians of the Plains.


A plant of the lily family chiefly found in what is now the western United States. Has edible bulbs. Commonly used by various tribes along the Lewis and Clark Trail.


The official process of counting the number of people in a country, city, or town and collecting information about them. In the case of the United States census, taken every 10 years beginning in 1790 and continuing until the present day.


The person, persons, government agency, organization, or company that makes a new photograph, written document, map, video recording, audio recording, etc.


To show someone or something in a picture, painting, photograph, etc., or to describe someone or something using words, a story, etc.

Direct Observation

The act of careful watching and listening, paying close attention to someone or something itself (rather than from photos, videos, or other recordings) in order to get information.

Ethnic group

A group of people associated with or belonging to a particular race or who have a culture that is different from the main culture of a country.


A set of words or word forms (such as pronouns or verb forms) that refer to the person who is speaking or writing. (Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary)


Coming directly from actually experiencing or seeing something. (MirriamWebster Online Dictionary)


The knowledge and understanding that you have about an event only after it has happened.

“Indian Presents”

Special items taken by Lewis and Clark to give to various tribes along the Lewis and Clark Trail. Includes such items as 12 dozen pocket mirrors, 4,600 sewing needles, 144 small scissors, 10 pounds of sewing thread, silk ribbons, ivory combs, handkerchiefs, yards of brightcolored cloth, 130 rolls of tobacco, tomahawks that doubled as smoking pipes, 288 knives, 8 brass kettles, vermilion face paint, 33 pounds of tiny beads of assorted colors.

Interest Group

A group of people who try to influence politics or the policies of government, business, etc., in a way that helps or advances their own interests.


A meeting at which information is obtained from a person (such as by a reporter, television commentator, or pollster).

Oral history

Tape-recorded historical information obtained in interviews concerning personal experiences and recollections.


Re-stating a text, passage, or work in your own words.


A carving or inscription on a rock. There are many petroglyphs created by ancient American Indians in the United States.

Point of view

A position or perspective from which something is considered or evaluated.


The number of people who live in a place or a general reference to a group of people or animals of a particular kind that live in a place.

Primary source

(Very simplified version.) A depiction of an event written, told, or illustrated by someone who was there at the time. (Buswell, 2014)

For a more detailed definition, see (University of California, Berkeley Library)


To repeat (exactly, word for word) something written or said by another person.


Not original; taken from someone who was not directly involved. (Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary)


A set of words or forms (such as pronouns or verb forms) that refer to the person that the speaker or writer is addressing. (Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Secondary source

(Very simplified version.) A depiction of an event or events created by someone who has examined source evidence and come to his or her own conclusions. (Buswell, 2014)

For a more detailed definition, see (University of California, Berkeley Library)


When speaking about primary source documents, this adjective describes something that has been written (usually on paper), such as a letter, speech, or completed form, either handwritten, typewritten, or computer generated. (Buswell, 2014)


A set of words or forms (such as pronouns or verb forms) that refer to people or things that the speaker or writer is not addressing directly. (Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary)


Received from or through two intermediaries. (Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary)


To make a written copy of something (Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary) or to type something that was previously handwritten. (Buswell)


A plant found in shallow wetlands producing edible tubers that were extensively used by Native Americans. (Memidex Dictionary)