Primary Source Analysis Essay

Once permission has been granted you may proceed with final work on the assignment. First, it should accurately describe the source contents to someone who cannot see or read the document in question.

Review your notes from earlier in the term about things to think about when reading and describing primary sources. What didn't the author say that might have been included?

There are all kinds of potential documents related to business, politics, the emergence of science, medicine, religion, technology, sports, family, and just about anything else you can imagine.

The main restrictions are that the document has to come from North America, it has to have been created before the year 1877, and it cannot be a document that is already well-known or that has been written about extensively by historians.

(See below for more detailed rules about permissible texts.) If you are unsure about what counts as a primary source it may prove helpful to review the Brief Guide to Sources that we read for the Mexican encounter primary source exercise. Participants with appropriate intermediate to advanced language skills are encouraged to consider materials from the Archive General de la Nacin Mxico, The Biblioteca Collection: "500 Anos de Mxico en Documentos", the Bilioteca Digital Mexicana, or the Bibliothque et Archives Nationales du Qubec.

We have a library guide with lists of other primary source collections specific to this assignment that may also be used.

A document may be of various types: a written document, a painting, a monument, a map, a photograph, a statistical table, a film or video, etc. Category of document: What is the category in which this document falls (memoirs, poem, novel, speech, law, study, sermon, Church document, song, letter, etc.)? Reaffirm the core thesis of the document/author; present your personal evaluation of it.

Anything from the past that helps us learn what happened, and why, is a document. What motive (purpose) might the author have had in writing this document? Does the geographical location influence the content? How would the type of writing affect the content and believability of the document? Audience: What is the intended audience of this document? Or addressing the document to a specific group (or speaking to a specific group)? Content of the document: What does the author argue (main theme; secondary themes: summarize them briefly but thoroughly. Comment on the influence/impact the document might have had and the reason(s) for it. If possible, situate this document in a wider context.

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