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Touchstone 4: Analyzing Primary Sources

12108Touchstone 4: Analyzing Primary Sources
ASSIGNMENT: You have learned that the historian’s craft involves using evidence from the past to learn and write about what happened. This evidence comes in the form of primary sources, or first-hand accounts or artifacts from the time period that the historian is writing about or studying. These sources provide the foundation for any historical narrative. Throughout this course, we have introduced you to the skill of Analyzing Primary Sources and to numerous primary sources that professional historians have used to develop a narrative of U.S. history. Now, you will have the opportunity to practice the historian’s craft by reading and analyzing two primary sources yourself.

Keep in mind that the same skills you use to read and analyze historical sources can also be applied to current sources of information, such as newspaper articles, social media posts, television reports, and commercial advertisements. By practicing these skills now, you will not only develop your ability to perform historical research and think like a historian, you will also become a more skilled consumer of information in general.

To complete this assignment, download the submission template below. You will return the completed template as your Touchstone submission.

Touchstone 4: Analyzing Primary Sources Template
Touchstone 4: Analyzing Primary Sources Sample

In order to foster learning and growth, all work you submit must be newly written specifically for this course. Any plagiarized or recycled work will result in a Plagiarism Detected alert. Review Touchstones: Academic Integrity Guidelines for more about plagiarism and the Plagiarism Detected alert.
A. Directions
Step 1: Choose Two Primary Sources
Review the Touchstone 4: Primary Source List and select two primary sources from the list for your assignment. The primary sources you choose should come from different time periods. Submissions that analyze primary sources that are not on the provided list will be returned ungraded.

Step 2: Read and Analyze Each Source
Read and analyze each source by following the instructions outlined below. Record your responses in the Touchstone 4: Analyzing Primary Sources Template.

Part 1: Meet the Primary Source

What type of primary source is this?
Types could include a letter, speech, court transcript, legislation, diary entry, photograph, artifact, map, broadside, circular, political cartoon, artwork, etc.
Provide a brief description of something you notice about the source, as if you were explaining to someone who can’t see it.
For example, you might describe its physical appearance, its formal title (if it has one), its type of language, its size or length, or anything else in particular that stands out to you.
Part 2: Observe its Parts

Who wrote it or created it? Was it one person, or was it a group, like an organization?
When was it written or otherwise created?
What are two things you know about the personal background or beliefs of the person or group who created it?
Was the source meant to be public or private? If public, who do you think was the intended audience?
You may need to use the internet to help you research these questions.
Part 3: Interpret its Meaning: Historical Context

Describe two other things that were happening at the time the source was created.
Careful! In some cases, this could be different from the time the source describes or portrays.
How does that context (or background information) help you understand why it was created?
If needed, revisit the US History I tutorials. The four time periods in the Primary Source List correspond to the four Units of the course. Navigate to the most relevant course unit and explore tutorials. Then find information to relate each primary source to its specific historical context.
Part 4: Interpret its Meaning: Main Point and Purpose

What is the main idea or point of the source? Use specific evidence from the source itself to support your answer.
Why do you think this primary source was made? Provide evidence from your prior responses to support your answer.
For example, was its purpose simply to inform? To persuade? To sensationalize? Or something else?
Part 5: Use it as Historical Evidence

What are two historical questions this source could help you to answer?
What are two pieces of information the source presents that you should “fact check” (verify as true) by checking other primary or secondary sources?
This primary source shows one perspective on this event or topic. What are two other perspectives you should get to better understand this event or topic, and why?

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