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A primary source is historical evidence written or produced at the time when events occurred. The following are examples of primary sources: newspapers, magazines, diaries, letters and legal documents. Students will have the opportunity to become familiar with, and are required to provide an analysis of a primary source. 


Locate a primary source significant to the history of the Americas. Post the title of the selected primary source via Moodle no later than Friday, September 18, 2015. Provide an analysis of the primary 

source selected. Your primary source essay must address the highlighted areas, while the remaining areas are optional: 



What type of source is it? (newspaper article, map, letter, film, etc.) When was it created?
Where was it created?

Who created it?



What do you know about the author's background?
What is the author’s place in society? (status, occupation, class, gender, ethnicity, etc.) 

How might the author’s place in society shape the author’s perspective in this source?
Does the author have an argument? If so, what is it? 

What motives did she/he have in creating 

       the document?


Who is the intended audience for this source?
Did the author address any particular person or group? 

Was the author speaking for (or representing) a particular audience?
Did the author's audience have any effect on the document's content?
How was the document received by the audience? 

Historical Content:
       What does this source tell you about the
       time and place in which it was created?
       How useful is it for understanding the

What biases or other cultural factors might have shaped the message of this source?
Was the author in a position to have reliable knowledge of the event? 

Reliability (continued)

Does the author have any reason to avoid telling the truth as she/he witnessed the event?
What historical perspectives are left out of this source? 

       Does it exclude, downplay, or ignore
       evidence or issues that you can verify
       through other sources?
       Was the author trying to silence another

What questions are left unanswered by this source?
How trustworthy is the source? 


Are there reasons to doubt the authorship of the document?
Was the document possibly a forgery?
Has the document been altered in any way? If it is a transcription of someone else's words, who was the scribe? 

       What role might the scribe have played in

shaping the document's tone or content? 


How important or influential was the source in its own day and age?
By what standards can one measure a document's significance? 

Was it widely disseminated and read (e.g., a pamphlet)?
Did the document's publication have anticipated and unanticipated consequences? 

Relationship to Course Themes:

How does the document relate to the course's readings and/or lectures? Provide specific examples. 



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