Primary Source Evaluation Assignment

Primary Source Evaluation Assignment


Learning to use Primary Sources


As a historian, you need to develop your skills at analyzing and working through primary sources in history. While secondary sources are great to understand historical analyses and interpretations of the past, the bulk of your new and novel research is built off the primary sources found in archives. Understanding the perspectives of historical actors and events will build your understanding of part of the story of the past. As with all primary sources and first-hand accounts, you have to take into consideration who is talking and when they are talking.


Using the primary sources linked in weeks 1, 3, 6, or primary sources beneficial to your individual research, you will complete the primary source form. The form contains questions that are designed to guide you through the process of contextualizing, corroborating, and making sense of the primary sources of the past.


For week 1, select some sort of piece of folk culture from the late 18th century to the mid to late 19th century to analyze. This can be fairy tales, folk poetry, operas, or short stories. Your goal will be to understand them as a reflection of the time in which they were written or collected.


This assignment is to be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 1.


For week 3 you will select some primary source that characterizes the change from 19th to 20th century. This can be propaganda, letters, books, newspaper articles (though you may need a range of these), or political pamphlets to show the change from 19th to 20th century.

This assignment is to be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 3.


For week 6 you will find a primary source reflecting on genocide in the 20th century. This must be a first-hand account of someone who experienced genocide or perpetuated it. An example here would be a prisoner at Auschwitz or a guard that was responsible for interning prisoners at Auschwitz. It may reflect the Holocaust, Armenian Genocide, purges of the Soviet Union, or that in Bosnia in the 1990s.

This assignment is to be submitted by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 6.