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Primary Source Assignment
Due January 16
Papers should be about 1250 words, and should be typed and double-spaced. The paper should
include your name, the title of the course, and the date in the upper left corner of the first page. The
paper should have a descriiptive title at the top of the first page. There is no need for a separate title
The file name for your document should take the form: [YOUR LAST NAME], [YOUR FIRST INITIAL]—
Critical Analysis Assignment. If a student named Jane Doe were submitting the paper, for example,
the file name would be “Doe, J.—Primary Source Assignment.” Papers can be submitted as either
Word or PDF files. Please do not submit them in any other file format. All assignments should be
submitted through Blackboard.
Choose a collection of primary source material on one of the subjects we have studied in the course so
far. Primary source material includes artifacts, documents, and testimony that are original to historical
events, rather than later observations and analysis. There are various materials on the Blackboard site
for the course that are suitable primary sources for this paper. You can also use outside material.
This assignment is designed to give you a sense of how historians do research and draw conclusions
about historical events. Historians and other social scientists, of course, study and rely on secondary
sources (like writings by other historians). In the end, however, all this accumulated scholarship traces
back to primary source research.
You will find links to appropriate materials (such as online archives, anthologies of original documents,
or recorded or transcribed interviews with participants) in the “Additional (Recommended) Materials”
items for many lessons.
First, select an issue that interests you and get a general grounding on the history (from secondary
sources, such as historians’ accounts in books and articles). You will need to use the required reading
and lectures, as well relevant recommended materials from the course, in your paper to analyze the
primary source material and place it into historical context. You may also use outside research
material, but make sure not to use it to the exclusion of material from the course. (A major objective
for all papers is to demonstrate your serious study of the course materials.)
Second, examine the primary source materials you have decided to use. Do not feel like you need to
write about a large number of different primary sources, or to find primary sources that will allow you
to write very comprehensively about the event or issue. Rather, focus on one or a few primary sources.
What does that piece of evidence tell you about the event or issue? How does it fit into a bigger
picture (what you learned in your background research)?
References to use:
(Must include) Alice Kessler-Harris, Women Have Always Worked: A Concise History.
(Must include) Nancy Folbre: The invisible heart: Economics and Family Values
can use outside sources as well
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