Primary Sources

• Analyze two primary sources—Identify and evaluate someone else’s main idea or argument.
• Appraise elements of potential bias in your primary sources.
• Remember: summary is not analysis. You may have to engage in some summary of the source’s content, but that should not be all you do with a source.
• What are the main points contained in the document? What is the author / speaker / creator trying to say?
• What does the language imply about the mindset, ideology, or political priorities of the creator / author?
• How does this source relate to your other primary sources? Are the same events or ideas discussed? Do the authors refer to one another?
• What do your primary sources say or show about your overall theme or topic?
• Who created this document?
• When was it created?
• What is its audience / who was meant to receive it?
• Why was this document created? What problem or issue was it meant to address?
• How was it promulgated? Was it sent as a letter, published, broadcast, or spoken aloud?

Tips for using secondary sources:
• Use two secondary sources to provide context– Identify the arguments in your secondary sources and potential bias.
• Do not quote secondary sources in essay.
• To what events, ideologies, or individuals does the primary source document refer?
• What events preceded the creation of the primary source document / what instigated its creation?
• What followed the primary source document? Did it lead directly to a historical action or event?

• Word limits: 1,200-1,500 words.
• No Bibliography—I’ll do it myself. For in-text citations of primary sources, use last name of author and page number (ive written the page numbers into the document)

Tips for organizing a historical essay:
• Introduction: briefly mention each of your sources and how they relate to your topic or theme.
• Body paragraphs: analyze your sources (primary and secondary) in conjunction with one another.
• I recommend that you NOT separate your sources and write about them in separate paragraphs. That organizational scheme will tend toward summary, not analysis and will hamper you from discussing them in conjunction with one another.
• Conclusion: recap the main points from your sources and how they relate to your topic or theme.

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